Press mulls consequences of Russia's Crimea move
The referendum planned by the pro-Russian regional parliament in Crimea on joining Russia has got analysts weighing up the pros and cons of the region breaking away from Ukraine.
Comments in the Russian press range from the euphoric "Crimea is ours!" to fears that events there could prompt separatist sentiments in Russia itself.
Pundits in Ukraine, meanwhile, are afraid that the Kremlin's desire to "swallow Crimea" may soon become a reality and accuse Moscow of adopting a "Hitler scenario" to annex the region.
'Gathering Russia's lands'
Russian pro-government analysts welcome moves for Crimea to join Russia as long-overdue.
"The inevitable has been postponed for almost a quarter of a century," says Yegor Kholmogorov in Izvestiya. He argues that the region should have become part of Russia immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, "since Crimea never wanted to be part of Ukraine". In an article entitled "Gathering Russia's lands", Kholmogorov urges Ukrainian politicians "to honestly confess" that "Crimea isn't theirs".
Writing in the same daily, Andranik Migranyan defends the right of people in Crimea "to take all power into their own hands". He argues that they acted in the same way as the Maidan protesters whose revolt installed a new government in Kiev. "What's more, events in Crimea have inspired Russians and Russian-speakers in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa; and, of course, they have given these regions of Ukraine an opportunity to raise the question of federalisation," he says in Izvestiya.
Others, however, are not so sure that making Crimea part of Russia is a good idea.
"The events in Crimea may stimulate a rise in separatist sentiments in Russia and on the perimeter of its borders," warns an editorial in Vedomosti. "Russia should have reined in the zealous supporters of annexation and insisted on talks with Kiev on a maximum autonomy for Crimea along the lines of Hong Kong," advises the daily.
Mikhail Rostovskiy also urges caution in an article in Moskovskiy Komsomolets. "Do our politicians think that the West will 'swallow' Crimea's annexation?" he asks and points out that such a move could "resurrect the Cold War in all its glory".
"Far from all Russians want to live under Moscow's rule," writes Kirill Martynov in Novaya Gazeta. "The rights of Russians are infringed in our country more than they are in Ukraine," he adds. "Here Russians, as well as representatives of other peoples, have no right to peaceful gatherings and demonstrations, no chance of a fair trial, and governments are not changed through democratic elections," he argues.
'Everything has fallen into place'
Newspapers in predominantly Russian-speaking Crimea are saying that people in the region are supporting moves to break away from Ukraine.
"We are with Russia," says a headline in Krymskaya Pravda. It carries a report from a pro-Russian rally in the city of Kerch, where people pointed out that the referendum was "the last chance" to express their opinion, "to have a clear conscience and not be ashamed to look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren".
Anastasiay Tymofeyeva lambasts the new Ukrainian authorities in an article in Krymskiye Izvestiya. "They pass laws that infringe the rights of the Russian-speaking population and enforce the toppling of Lenin statues. So, does it come as a surprise that the patient south-eastern regions have lost their temper and have rebelled?" she exclaims.
"Now everything has fallen into place. The Crimean parliament has expressed the political will of the overwhelming majority of Crimeans," concludes Nataliya Havrylyova in Krymskoye Ekho
The main Ukrainian dailies are worried that moves to sever Crimea from Ukraine might prove to be irreversible.
"We are losing Crimea," says a headline in Ukrayina Moloda. The paper writes that the Kremlin is getting ready "to swallow" the region.
In another article in the same daily, Taras Zakusylo argues that "it is not beneficial for Crimea to secede from Ukraine". Crimea was not given to Ukraine "as a present" by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, he writes, it was done out of "economic convenience". "The peninsula is linked to Ukraine by motorways, water canals and energy communications," Zakusylo explains.
"Can Ukraine offer something to Putin in order to keep Crimea?" asks Oles Buzyna in Segodnya. According to the pundit, Kiev must "promise to give up for good its intention to join Nato" and "stop any attempts" aimed at revoking the agreements that allow for the Russian Black Sea Fleet to be based in Sevastopol until 2042.
Writing in the broadsheet Den, historian Dmytro Shusharin compares "Putin's plan" to take away Crimea to the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.
"Crimea will be annexed according to the Hitler scenario," he predicts.