On Ukraine.

It seems to me that if the facts of the matter are as Mr. Putin has presented them, then there is a simple and elegant solution to the Crimean crisis.

If a majority, however slim, of people in the Crimean peninsula are ethnically Russian, and if they have no objection to Putin’s presence, and if Putin is genuinely interested in protecting Russia’s lease in Sevastopol, and if the Russian troops and flags are there already, then what harm is there in permitting Crimea to peacefully secede from Ukraine and join Russia?

Similarly, if a majority, however slim, of people in the rest of Ukraine wish to join the European Union, and can be persuaded into pursuing fast-track admission to NATO, and are willing to host a missile defense system similar to those we should immediately install and/or expand in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, and Turkey, then what harm is there in permitting Ukraine to develop international friendships as it sees fit?

7 comments

  1. There are a lot of issues with either scenario to various global powers.

    Chinese-Russo and Euro-American groups wish to procure the most advantageous position in the region. Crimea has a lot to offer strategically in terms of regional influence, energy and trade routes.

    Neither group had an excuse to interfere while Ukraine was under an accepted and stable government. The overthrow of the government is a great opportunity to take advantage. The West would prefer to accomplish this quietly through a proxy government or group which is wholly Ukraine in appearance. Russia recognized the inability to compete without more aggressive measures.

    Your suggestion is perfectly reasonable in theory, but it isn’t practical when global powers are competing for strategic interests, particularly in that region.

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    1. I think as time goes on, the leaders of the countries I listed (as long as they are sovereign) will grow increasingly interested in making my suggestion practical.

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      1. Incredibly late response. I would have said originally that while the U.S. may grow to favor a solution similar to yours, Russia has no incentive because they’re confident a military annexation would not lead to any serious consequences from the other global powers. The current global economic climate would highly discourage it on all sides. China owns approximately 25 percent of the U.S. debt, and they would be inclined to support Russian actions over U.S. reactions. Neither the EU or the US are willing to jeopardize economic gain for Crimea, and so Russia can confidently press forward without much fear of repercussion.

        With the recent development’s coming from Crimea, to register Jewish citizens and their property (which has been authenticated by both the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Secretary of State Kerry, although I’m still skeptical), however, I’d probably change my response to agree with you. Aggressively annexing a territory and getting away with it in the international community is already awfully close to appeasement, as Bull Moose brought up, and many others, and adding the Jewish registry to the mix is a terrible concoction sure to bring in a lot more attention and pressure. Europe and Israel, and the U.S. by proxy, will be much less inclined to cut their losses in Crimea if faced with actions too closely reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Theoretically this would strengthen a real possibility for consequences for Russia should they continue with their current behavior, and therefore maybe they would also be inclined to support a solution similar to the one you proposed.

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  2. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex issue, that sounds like appeasement. Trusting a conqueror to take an honest measure of whether or not his new subjects prefer his leadership is not a feasible position, as history already suggests. An impartial third party could attempt to accurately measure Crimea’s willingness to join the Russian Federation, but at the moment I wouldn’t assume that Putin would permit it. Has some attempt at this occurred that I am unaware of?

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    1. I did not mean to suggest appeasement. I meant to suggest creating a military alliance with Russia’s neighbors, including what’s currently left of Ukraine.

      Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me to know that the people of Crimea genuinely favor joining Russia. But since Putin moved intelligence and military assets in well ahead of the referendum, we’ll never know for sure, will we?

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