I say, the Crimeans made their own bed; let them lie in it.
At this writing, it appears official that the Russian Duma has accepted the Crimean vote to again become part of Russia, and Vladimir Putin has just signed that annexation into law. The West will wail and wring its collective hands, asserting (correctly) that this was a violation of the Ukrainian constitution.
But, wait a minute. All of Ukraine was part of the USSR until its 1989 break-up. It still consists of three separate regions and ethnic groups: Crimea, predominantly Russian-speaking, Russian Orthodox and identifying as “Russian,” Eastern Ukraine, the same, and Western Ukraine (Kiev), predominantly bilingual (Ukrainian being the primary language) and predominantly Roman Catholic and pro-West.
Crimea also has a sizable Tatar minority of Muslims, said to be around 15%, who were treated brutally by Russia and largely expelled from Crimea under the old USSR. Crimea has changed hands many times since the 1100’s, but identifying as “Russian” is nothing new.
Ukraine, on the other hand, was a shotgun marriage of different regions by the USSR. Since their notoriously corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych fled for his life, Ukraine’s provisional government has been in a shambles. It is ill-equipped at the moment to deal with what, from its perspective, is a grave national crisis.
Election results were, and would have been, a foregone conclusion — even before the destabilized Kiev regime and Putin’s heavy-handed machinations. No matter how honestly conducted, there would always have been something “illegal” about this vote for self-determination.
With Kiev shutting off access to the national voter registration database, and with short notice of elections and no regular poll monitoring, the Crimean vote would have been a world scandal, had it not been for the fact the overwhelming results were a foregone conclusion. Considering the chaos and instability in the region over the last month, it could reasonably be argued Crimeans themselves had very little real choice.
As always, the issue should never be about what governments decide is good for the people. Whether we’re talking about Ukraine, Iran, Pakistan or the United States, it should be about the people.
This cannot be about whether Putin can be allowed to get away with his annexation. Of course he can, and, in recent developments, he has just done so. There is little of substance the West can do about it within any bounds of reason.
I’ve written before that, as irregular as it was, Crimea exercised what by all accounts was an entirely predictable and representative vote of self-determination. It seems ironic that in this case America, arguably the freest country in the world (in many respects) would still object on grounds that seem to have little more substance than parliamentary procedure.
What will be interesting is when the other shoe drops: Eastern Ukraine.
Part of this post was originally posted by me on Facebook.
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