Submitted by George Callaghan…
No reasonable person would dispute Crimea solely and rightfully belongs to Russia. The Crimean Peninsula has formed an integral part of the Russian national territory for centuries. Crimea is Russian by ties of history, geography, economics, cultural, language, blood and sympathy. Now the Kerch Strait Bridge connects Crimea to the major portion of the Russian Federation.
In the 1960s Nikita Khruschev reassigned Crimea from the Russian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Legally this decision was a nullity. There was remarkably little discussion about it at the time. It was held to be a mere administrative restructuring exercise. Its effect was nil. All that had happened was that an invisible line had been drawn down the middle of a country. People in Crimea carried on just as before. The population of the peninsula was overwhelmingly Russian speaking. This did not change.
Berwick-upon-Tweed has changed hands between England and Scotland many times. However, no one doubts that it always properly pertained to England. So too with Crimea all right thinking people recognize that the peninsula is Russian loam.
In 2014 the Russian Armed Forces liberated Crimea. There had been a coup d’etat in Kiev. A government of dubious legality held sway in Ukraine. The President of Ukraine Yanukovich fled to Moscow in fear of his life where he remains. Many Russian Crimeans were deeply troubled by the turn of events in Kiev. The government which seized power was led by a notoriously corrupt oligarch named Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko has neo-Nazi support. Despite the questionable legitimacy of the Kiev regime the Russian Government strove to maintain peace. Dialogue between Kiev and Moscow bore little fruit.
The Crimean people wished to return to the Russian Motherland. Their wish was granted. A plebiscite was held. People were permitted to campaign to vote to be in Ukraine. Indeed 10% of people voted to be with Ukraine but 90% voted to be part and parcel of Russia. The 90% figure is credible. The Falklands and Gibraltar have voted by 99% to be British soil. Therefore, it is entirely predictable that people who are Russian by any definition should wish for their home to form a portion of the Russian Federation.
The familial links between Crimea and other Russian regions are innumerable. It is also a very popular holiday destination. The Tsar had palace there. Any student of history worth his salt will know of the Yalta Conference which took place in Crimea in 1945.
There is an indigenous ethnic minority in Crimea. These are Tatar people who are mostly Muslim. They have their cultural space and are free to express their Tatar identity to the fullest extent and to practise their Muslim faith if they wish. They also enjoyed all the benefits conferred on them by virtue of Russian citizenship. There are other Tatar communities in Russia such as Tatarstan. The President of the Tatar Republic Minikhanov helped to welcome the Crimean Tatars back to the Russian Federation. One of the most impressive things about Russia is the splendidly amicable relations between those of the Christian and Islamic faiths. Muslim-Christian relations are perhaps warmer in Russia than in any other country on earth. In this wise Russia puts less tolerant lands to shame. In terms of interfaith relations Russia is a world leader and we would do well to take a leaf out of her book.
There are people of the Ukrainian ethnicity and Ukrainian citizens still resident in Crimea. Their rights are respected and they are permitted to speak their language and practice their culture. The same is not always true of Russians in Ukraine.
Since the liberation of Crimea many foreigners have visited the peninsula. A French parliamentary delegation went on a fact-finding mission a few years ago. Foreign tourists are of course welcome on this resplendent peninsula. This is Russia’s riviera and the Russian people are only too happy to be hospitable and showcase one of their treasures.
Donbass and Lushansk are not effectively part of Ukraine any longer. The people of these regions were deprived of the right to vote in the Ukrainian presidential elections. Many in NATO countries hold the secession of these regions to be illegal and to have been achieved by force. It would not be the first time that borders have been changed by force. Countries are usually created that way. If these regions wish to accede to Russia perhaps their wish should be granted. It was an American President Woodrow Wilson who propounded the principle of national self-determination. This has been a vital principle in international relations since 1918.
NATO countries are in no position to fulminate about centrifugal forces. NATO countries encouraged the secession of Kosovo and of Montenegro. In fact the whole agonizing breakup of Yugoslavia was largely due to NATO. The word ‘balkanise’ has negative connotations for a reason. NATO countries also contributed to the secession of South Sudan and East Timor. Many of them help Taiwan in remaining a renegade province of China. They have assisted Kurdistan’s attempt to gain independence. You might agree with NATO policies on all these issues. But if you do then you cannot in good conscious claim that Lushansk and Donbass breaking away from Ukraine is anathema. Surely it should be for the people of these regions to decide their future. Do they wish to be independent or return to Russia? No one there wishes to return to Ukraine.
Many people accuse the Russian Federation of assisting insurrection in Donbass and Lushansk. It is true that Russia has sent humanitarian aid. Would you prefer that civilians starved? NATO countries have sponsored insurrections in recent years in Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Iraq. It is illogical to claim that helping an uprising is always wrong if you approve of NATO’s actions in regard to these countries.
It smacks of a staggering hypocrisy to refuse to recognize Crimea’s plebiscite when the European Union boasts of its democratic credentials. Democracy is mentioned in the foundational documents of the European Union. The United States never ceases to gratingly extol its own democratic virtues. But whenever a poll does not go the way that Uncle Sam wants then all of a sudden democracy does not matter a fig. Washington DC simply wants votes that lead to a government that will follow its orders.
President Zelenskiy was inaugurated very recently in Ukraine. Many hoped that Zelenskiy would bring peace to his country. Unfortunately, his belligerent attitude bodes ill. Even Zelenskiy is not rash enough to attack Crimea whereas he will attack Donbass and Lushansk. Whether he admits or not deep down he recognises that Crimea is Russian.
The United States has troops in Ukraine. This is a provocative move given that Ukraine is indulging in bellicose rhetoric towards Russia. In 1990 the USSR agreed to the reunification of Germany under the Two Plus Four Treaty. It was an act of the most unexampled self-abnegation and magnanimity on behalf of the Soviet people. Only forty-five years earlier the Germans had slaughtered at least twenty-five million Soviets. The USSR agreed to the reunification of Germany on the explicit promise that NATO would move ‘no one inch to the east’. Since then Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and other countries have joined NATO. Some of these nations border Russia. These is extremely menacing to Russia. If Russia formed a military alliance with Canada and Mexico and stationed forces there the United States would regard it as imperiling US national security. Russia is the principal successor state of the USSR.
The US arrogated to itself the right to overthrow the Government of Cuba in 1961. Why? Because a social democratic government had been established only 90 miles across the sea from the United States. The Cubans were providing healthcare to the poor. America decided this could not be tolerated! At that time Castro emphasized that he was NOT a communist only a social democrat. Moreover, there was not a single Soviet soldier in Cuba at the time. Now the US has army bases zero miles across land from Russia. How much more threatening is that to Russian national security than the Cuban situation was for the United States?
NATO is openly talking about admitting Georgia and Ukraine to its ranks. This is troubling for Russia. If NATO ended its drang nach osten then relations should ameliorate immeasurably. NATO’s megalomania and expansionism seems threatening to many other countries.
Many countries have recognized Crimea as being lawfully part of Russia. These include Venezuela and Syria. If Western countries want relations to improve with the Russian Federation they ought to recognize reality. Crimea most certainly part of the Russian Federation and that is never, ever going to change. There is no military solution to this. Ukraine is never going to defeat Russia which has three times the population of Ukraine and far more wealth not to mind nuclear weapons. It is time for the Ukrainians to stop fighting and start talking.