Many in the EU and US fail to accept that Crimea is today, as it was for centuries, a peaceful and integral part of Russia. They seem obsessed by a short aberrational period of history between 1991 and 2014 where the people of Crimea and Sevastopol engaged in a protracted struggle for autonomy and independence from Kiev after the peninsula was transferred to a new state of Ukraine following the illegal break-up of the Soviet Union.
For those who think that the struggle of the Crimean people to return home only began in 2014, they simply do not know history.
In 1992, Crimea proclaimed its full-self governing status, but pressure from Kiev and little support from a totally compromised Russia, led to the indefinite postponement of a referendum that was to have decided the fate of an independent Crimea.
In 1993, autonomous Crimea created a new office of Crimean President, but this was abolished a year later, again under pressure from Kiev.
In 1995, Kiev abolished the autonomous Crimean Constitution all together, leading to vastly renewed tensions. The tensions were temporarily eased with the ultimately failed and totally flawed 1997 Kharkov Agreement. However, throughout the 2000s and long before the Kiev coup of 2014, things remained deeply tense between Crimea and Kiev. The people of Crimea never wanted anything to do with Kiev, even before Kiev went fully fascist in 2014.
Donbass too has never been happy being part of a post-Soviet Ukrainian state. The 2014 fascist coup was merely the straw which broke the camel’s back. Unlike Crimea, the two independent Republics of Donbass have not yet reunited with Russia, something that has saddened and worried many in both Russia and Donbass.
But do all territorial disputes result in open conflict, sanctions and strains to international relations? More specifically, do all territorial disputes involving Russia lead to such things?
The answer is no. The combination of militarism in Kiev which is itself encouraged by the US and EU’s desire to turn Ukraine into a kind of geo-political football, has made the disputes involving the fascist regime of Kiev take on a violent nature that are simply not present in other such territorial disagreements involving Russia.
Here is a list of territories in which Russia and another state have a dispute that has not resulted in any kind of violence or international hostility.
1. Estonia-Russian border
Estonia is not known for its warm feelings towards Russia, quite the opposite is the case. Russophobia is part of the narrative of successive Estonian governments and Estonia always rolls out the red carpet for NATO tanks and other military hardware.
In spite of this, protracted negotiations over the modern border between Estonia and the Russian Federation have not erupted in the kind of violent hell that Kiev is reigning down on Donbass, nor have they resulted in the kind of collective western hysteria that erupted when Crimea peacefully and democratically returned home.
Ever since 1991, some in Estonia have wanted the Estonian-Russia border to be defined by the 1920 Treaty of Tartu signed between Soviet Russia and the Finnish and Estonia states of the post-First World War era. As it was, the 1991 borders of Estonia reflected the borders of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic which existed between 1940 and 1991.
After years of often tedious negotiations, both sides agreed to exchange an equal amount of land in border regions, totalling a swap of 126 hectares of land.
It all had the ring of ‘much ado about nothing’, but ultimately both sides were placated without resorting to the insane measures surrounding post-fascist coup Ukraine.
2. The Kuril Islands
Ever since the end of the Second World War, Japan and the USSR have contested ownership of the largely uninhibited chain of islands.
After the Yalta Conference, it was agreed that the Soviet Union would take control of the entire archipelago.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan agreed to settle the conflict by giving Japan sovereignty over two of the islands whilst the USSR would retain the rest. However, the United States intervened to prohibit Japan from formalising the deal.
Today, Japan still seeks sovereignty over two of the islands in their entirety as well as partial control over two others.
The apparent good personal relationship between current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (in power since 2012) and Russian President Vladimir Putin has done a great deal to ease tensions. Both sides have agreed to take a calm and cooperative approach to the islands as two mature powers ought to do.
3. The Arctic
While not the most unforgiving piece of real estate in the world, the melting of the Polar Icecaps as well as the potential for oil exploration in the region has led to a little discussed ‘race for the Arctic’ between Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway and Denmark.
Various conflicting international treaties as well as disputes over whose continental ridges extend into the Arctic, carries the potential for a conflict between several large nations, including two nuclear super-powers (the US and Russia).
However, few people seriously believe that competition for Arctic claims will seriously result in war or total geo-political conflict.
Thus far, no such things have happened.
4. Ukatny Island
Ukatny is a small uninhabited island in the North Caspian sea. But like many uninhabited places which are of interest to various countries, Ukatny has oil. Currently, the island is the subject of a relatively small dispute between Russia and Kazakhstan.
Russia and Kazakhstan are post-Soviet allies who are both members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Union. This helps explain why there has not been and almost certainly will never be open conflict over Ukatny Island.
These four very different examples of disputes over different kinds of territory, between different kinds of nations, demonstrate that Russia is more than capable of handling disputed territorial claims with anyone, whether a post-Soviet ally like Kazakhstan, a former adversary turned country with generally good relations like Japan, a country that is politically hostile like Estonia or even a superpower like the United States and its allies Canada, Denmark and Norway.
The fact that the fascist regime in Kiev sees Ukrainian territory in places where it does not exist and further seeks to subjugate populations literally dying to get away from Kiev, is proof positive that the faults for the western spasms over Crimea and Donbass are due to a combination of Ukrainian extremism combined with western geo-political greed.
Russia is frank and upfront about its geo-political relations. Extremism is never an option for Russia but nor is the capitation that defined 1990s. Mature countries understand this, politically hysterical failed states like Ukraine cannot.