World Bulletin / News Desk
The former head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (parliament) and Ukrainian MP Mustafa Jemilev, has said that Ukraine should consider building up a nuclear arsenal if the West is unwilling to defend it from Russian aggression.
Speaking to a packed audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the US capital Washington DC on Wednesday, Jemilev reportedly said “We in Ukraine feel cheated, we feel that we were betrayed,” adding “now, we need to regain our nuclear status.”
70-year-old Jemilev was just a few months old when former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the exile of the Turkic-speaking native Crimean Tatar Muslims from their homeland in 1944. He was among the hundreds of thousands who returned from exile in the late 80s, taking advantage of a relaxation of laws.
However, by then the Crimean Tatars had come back to find the region taken over by ethnic Russians and to this day they remain as a minority in their homeland, comprising a mere 13% of the population. For that reason, they were powerless when ethnic Russians voted in favor of Crimean independence from Ukraine and annexation with Russia in the March 16 referendum, which was held after the pro-Russian Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovich was toppled in Kiev.
The 300,000 Crimean Tatars, fearing a repeat of the events in 1944, boycotted the referendum and have objected to the Russian take over. They are now discussing ways to seek their own autonomy while Russia begins the process of granting citizenship to the people of Crimea on April 18.
Russian citizenship will be given to everyone except for those who wish to remain as Ukrainian citizens. Those who reject Russian nationality not be able to work in any official government jobs thereafter. Due to his position in the Ukrainian parliament, Jemilev has been denied access to his homeland.
“We will lose all of our civil rights, and be considered foreigners in our own land,” Jemilev is reported to have said by New Republic. “We expect a serious blow.”
“Once people become Russian citizens, we end up in a trap,” he further explained. He also said that curbs are already being introduced on anti-Russian sentiment in the peninsula despite assurances from Russian president Vladimir Putin, forcing up to 5,000 Crimean Tatars to leave for mainland Ukraine. “We’ve reached the line where we cannot guarantee that blood is not going to be spilled,” he said.
Urging the West for more support for Ukraine and tougher sanctions on Russia, Jemilev warned “If the U.S. had acted more decisively in 2008, we would not see what we’ve seen in Crimea. Pretty soon, we’ll see Russian troops in Brussels.”
In the event that the West hesitates to provide Ukraine with the necessary help within the framework of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the US, Britain and Russia promised to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in exhange for the country's accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Jemilev encouraged Ukraine to take its destiny into its own hands by re-developing its nukes.
In invading the Crimean peninsula, Russia made the 1994 agreement irrelevant, Jemilev implied.Last Mod: 03 Nisan 2014, 16:07