WASHINGTON, May 16 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova - The West argues about the manner and standards in which the referendums in Ukraine's eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk were held, but misses the larger point, the reality of the situation, Patrick Basham, Director of the Washington-based Democracy Institute, told RIA Novosti Friday.
"What's important is the undeniable fact that the vast majority of voters in those two regions wish to change their status. Just as in the western part of the country, where the West has accepted this reality" he said.
"But when those either of Russian defense or affinity with Russia in the East and in the South of the country indicated they have frustrations, for some reason they don't view those as legitimate," Basham added. "I think that is a double standard and is part of the reason that we are in this crisis situation and why we won't be able to get out of it."
The pressure to break up Ukraine is not an economic one on the part of those who are advocating independence or separation, but of cultural and nationalistic mindset, Basham believes.
"Whether they wish for separation from Ukraine, whether they wish for full independence, whether they wish to be part of Russia, without a shadow of a doubt they wish for a different political arrangement. If those citizens wish for a new arrangement, you have to deal with them on the basis of their complaint," Basham emphasized.
The West imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine because it does not feel it has anything useful to offer, he added.
"Therefore, they are reacting to react. This is the default position the politicians take when they are really angry but unsure what to do about the situation," Basham said.
The policy of sanctions is extremely ineffective and hurts ordinary people, he added.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions have declared independence from Ukraine based on the results of referendums held on Sunday. The United States, Canada and Europe have denounced the results of the vote and imposed a fresh batch of sanctions on Russia, which they accused of fomenting unrest in southeastern Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive" and warned its Western partners about the "boomerang effect" that sanctions would have.