Royce discredits referendum vote in Crimea

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) discredited a referendum vote in Crimea on Sunday that showed 97 percent of voters favor leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.

“The phony referendum in Crimea is a throwback to the Soviet era,” Royce said. “No vote occurring under military occupation deserves to be treated as legitimate. This referendum is clearly unconstitutional. Congress and the president must impose tough sanctions and other measures on those who have brought about this crisis. The administration should be working overtime to help break (Russian President Vladimir Putin’s) energy grip on Ukraine and eastern Europe.”

The House of Representatives approved last week a bipartisan House resolution sponsored by Royce that condemned Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and endorsed sanctions against Russia.

Royce said the resolution was an important declaration of support for the Ukrainian people and advanced U.S. interests abroad.

Addressing Ukraine’s energy security must be part of the U.S. response, Royce said, because Russia has leveraged its natural gas supply to Ukraine to gain political control.

Royce called for elimination of self-imposed restrictions on selling U.S. energy to most foreign countries. The move would undermine Putin’s influence, support European allies and create jobs in the U.S., Royce said.