[JURIST] The European Parliament [official website] passed a resolution [press release, PDF] on Thursday condemning Russia's actions in Crimea and calling for the immediate withdraw of all Russian military forces from Ukrainian territory. The resolution [texts adopted] states that Russia is in breach of international law and existing conventional obligations, including the UN Charter, the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, the Statute of the Council of Europe, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances [texts], the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and many others. The resolution also rejects the planned referendum on joining the Russian Federation to be held Sunday in Crimea, finding it to be in violation of both the Budapest Memorandum and the Ukrainian constitution [text]. Both sources of law restrict the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to holding referendums on local matters do not permit referendums "on modifying the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine." The European Parliament declared Russia's stated objective for deploying troops in Crimea, the protection of the Ukraine's Russian minority, to be unfounded. The European Parliament also called on the Ukrainian government to protect the rights of the nation's minorities.
The ousting of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in late February has led to escalating tensions [BBC timeline] between Ukraine and Russia, culminating in the de facto seizure of the Crimean peninsula by pro-Russian and Russian forces at the beginning of March. Earlier this week Crimea's parliament voted [JURIST report] to secede from the Ukraine and declare itself an independent state in the event of a yes vote in a referendum scheduled for Sunday. The vote comes a week after the Crimean Parliament asked [JURIST report] the Russian government to allow the region to become part of the Russian Federation through a referendum. Earlier this month during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama condemned [JURIST report] Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty after Russian forces had taken up positions in Ukraine. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has generated much academic discussion including two JURIST op-eds by Curtis Doebbler of the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and Stoyan Panov [JURIST op-eds] of the University of Birmingham Law School.