Not Putin a Foot Wrong

Is it just me or is Putin playing the Russian hand as straight as could be in Ukraine?

With the UK press and media, and the rhetoric of various international premiers and foreign secretaries casting him as the bad guy, almost clamouring for violent conflict I can see Russia’s point.

OK, so as a “sovereign nation” Ukraine has rights not to be invaded (even threatened) by its powerful neighbour. But Crimea is a special case.

Geographically, thanks to Ukraine being split in half by the Dniepr, and the Crimea being further separated by an isthmus out into Russian waters, the Crimea is only part of Ukraine because of special circumstances. Originally bequeathed as a gift by Kruschev [*], the home of the Russian Black Sea navy as well as many ethnic Russians and Tatars, and a strategically significant territory overlooking the Kerch channel from Russia into the Black Sea, Crimea has always been a special case subject to special international conditions and agreements, before and since the break-up of the Soviet Union. People are humans, sovereign nations are just lines on maps after all.

I’m trying to imagine Scots Nats threatening British citizens and assets in Faslane or Leuchars with violence, and not expecting the UK government to assert its interests, yes vote or no.

Whatever the strategic economic and military power plays going on (which they clearly are), Russia’s not spilled any blood yet asserting its interests in Crimea, unlike the last few months’ events in Kyiv. Let’s keep it that way, and turn down the rhetoric please.

[Post note – I see today Thursday, the Crimean parliament has voted for Russia – the fact the arrangements include a Crimean parliament tells us it’s not as simple as Ukrainian sovereignty?]

[*] Paraphrasing from Wikipedia :

On 18 May 1944; [under Stalin] the entire population of the Crimean Tatars was forcibly deported.

On 19 February 1954; [under Kruschev] Crimea decreed to the Ukraine as a symbolic gesture.

On 20 January 1991; [under Ukrainian referendum] Crimea upgraded to an Autonomous Republic.

Since 1992;  autonomy vs self-government compromised as part of ongoing agreements to be part of Ukraine and partly fudged around both Ukrainian and Russian “shared” naval interests there and Crimeans being “permitted” to hold Russian passports.
In 2014; By constitutional means or revolutionary coup in Kyiv, there is no way a Ukrainian government can determine the status of Crimea, without the agreement of both Crimea and Russia. What’s popular in Kyiv in 2014 doesn’t govern Crimea.

8 thoughts on “Not Putin a Foot Wrong”

  1. It’s interesting to consider how upset people get over real estate. It’s the ultimate static entity. But Gorby negotiated the borders with the breakup of the USSR in 1991 and he should have kept ahold of the Crimea then. Now you just know it’s going to upset some people. But if I remember correctly, Ukraine at that time retained a substantial nuclear arsenal so it must have been that nobody envisioned a real break-off between Russia and Ukraine.

  2. Yeah, absolutely.

    Ironic now, all the jibes about “unconstitutional” action by the Crimea “parliament” (whatever that is) when it was the whim of one non-elected leader that made Crimea (and its un-consulted sitting population) part of Ukraine in the first place.

  3. “Russian waters”! Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine have jurisdiction in the Black Sea. Russia does have a lease on a naval base in the Crimea, but that does make the waters around the Crimea “Russian waters”.

  4. Craig, yeah Russian rights, but I didn’t say exclusive – I was thinking pimarily of Asov Sea portion, but any seas have rules on local rights, obviously.

  5. And BTW folks, whatever your own emotional reaction to the Crimean situation, please note what I actually said. Simply “Turn down the rhetoric, please.”

    Crimea is a mess from last 100 years history from many perspectives, Russian and Tatar. The fact that Ukraine has ANY rights there is just one incidental twist in a much deeper mess. Wielding high-handed “national sovereignty” rights is a big stick either way, when what is really needed is a negotiated solution from all parties, including Tatar. There is no turning the clocks back however.

  6. Psyberton: “I was thinking pimarily of Asov Sea portion”. But Crimea isn’t so much into the Asov Sea as creating it. As for Tatars, all I know about them is from Sponge Bob Square Pants and the sauce for crabby patties.

  7. Well then, you should be very careful holding ANY opinions about the rights and wrongs of Crimea.

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