Separatists in Donetsk claim a turnout of 74.9% in a referendum on self-determination with 89.7% voting in favor of self-rule.

Ukraine says turnout was 32%. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between but that’s a pretty wide gap. Even 32% turnout seems respectable given the circumstances.

The Ukrainian government claims the election was a farce and the US called it illegal. Nonetheless, Separatists Urge Russia to Annex Donetsk in Wake of Referendum.

In a statement, Denis Pushilin, one of the separatist leaders in Donetsk, said the rebels had asked Moscow to consider absorbing the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, “based on the will of the people and on the restoration of a historic justice”.

“The people of Donetsk have always been part of the Russian world,” he said. “For us, the history of Russia is our history.”

The US, France, Germany and Britain have been pushing for broader economic measures against Moscow if it derails Ukraine’s election on May 25.

However, ministers in Brussels did not reach agreement on the election being a trigger point for a third phase of sanctions. The 28 member states concluded only that they would “pay particular attention to all parties’ attitude and behaviour towards the holding of free and fair presidential elections when deciding about possible future measures”.

In a statement on Monday, the Kremlin said: “Moscow respects the choice of the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and hopes that implementation of the referendum’s results will proceed in a civilised manner through dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk, and without a repeat of violence.”

“The farce which terrorists in cahoots with separatists call a referendum is nothing more than propaganda to cover up for killings, kidnappings of people, violence and other serious crimes . . . which are inspired by the leadership of the Russian Federation, whose aim is complete destabilisation of the situation in Ukraine, derailing presidential elections and overthrowing Ukraine’s leadership,” Mr Turchynov said in a statement.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, on Monday accused Kiev and the US of refusing to engage in dialogue with the separatists. “It’s a pity that some people in Washington and Kiev are opposed to starting a dialogue with the regions,” he told reporters in Moscow. “The fact that the OSCE’s road map has not been given out publicly is further confirmation that Kiev is not ready to talk with the people [of southeastern Ukraine].”

France to Honor Warship Contract Russia

While the US pressures European nations for more sanctions, many of which on individuals who have nothing to do with the crisis, France Won’t Cancel Warship Deal with Russia

France will press ahead with a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.66 billion) contract to sell helicopter carriers to Russia because cancelling the deal would do more damage to Paris than to Moscow, French diplomatic sources said on Monday.

The long-discussed French sale was Moscow’s first major foreign arms purchase in the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy had hailed the signing of the Mistral contract as evidence the Cold War was over. It has created about 1,000 jobs in France.

Russia’s Mistral purchase would give it access to advanced technology, alarming some of France’s NATO allies.

Sanction Madness

At a meeting today to discuss more sanctions, the EU and US agreed to sanction 13 more individuals but did not name names. In addition, the EU also slapped asset freezes on two firms in the Crimean region.

In the stupid bluff of the day, British Foreign Secretary William Hague reiterated the EU’s threat to move to wider sanctions on whole sectors of the Russian economy if the tension in Ukraine does not subside.

Precisely who is responsible for the tension? And who is in control of Donetsk?

If Hague isn’t bluffing, the threat is just plain stupid.

Either way, warship sales to Russia must go on! So does the madness, hypocrisy, bluffs, threats, and endless stream of propaganda from both sides.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock