The Crimean Affair

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.

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