Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the U.S.-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.
Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles of law, the U.S. Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by means of coups and invasions against countries that never invaded nor threatened to invade the United States. If anything at all is clear in international law, it is that Crimea’s breaking away from Ukraine and rejoining Russia in 2014 was entirely and unquestionably legitimate, as will be documented here, by exposing the lies that are adduced on the U.S. side, in order to allege that it’s not legitimate.
First, however, will be a bit of essential historical background, which is commonly ignored in arguments by the pro-U.S.-regime liars on this matter: From 1783 to 1954, Crimea was part of Russia. Crimea was arbitrarily transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 by the dictator of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, who was a Ukrainian and didn’t consult the residents of Crimea about this handover of them to Ukraine. Crimeans were so opposed to being ruled from the foreign-language-speaking and largely pro-Nazi (and anti-Semitic and anti-Russian) Ukrainians to their north, so that as soon as the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the only way that Crimeans would tolerate any continuation of their formal association with Ukraine was by being declared Ukraine’s “autonomous republic” (the only one) in Ukraine. This situation of partial Crimean independence continued until Ukraine was conquered (via coup) by the U.S. regime, in order to be handed over first to the European Union, and then, after the EU would accept Ukraine, to NATO, which military alliance with the U.S. was extremely unpopular in Ukraine until the American conquest and the immediately subsequent takeover of Ukraine by pro-U.S. oligarchs, who were eager to buy more privatized and formerly Soviet state-owned properties, in basically insider deals with the now U.S.-controlled Ukrainian Government. Those oligarchs’ ‘news’-media successfully propagandized most Ukrainians to switch from being anti-NATO to pro-NATO. Furthermore, Crimeans were strongly favorable toward Russia and strongly unfavorable toward the United States. Right at the time of the coup, Crimeans demonstrated in Kiev against the CIA-organized Maidan demostrations, and on the day of the coup, February 20th, those Crimeans in Kiev were forced by the U.S.-supported nazis to flee there, but the eight buses carrrying them were blocked en-route, and an unknown number of the fleeing Crimeans were killed, mainly clubbed to death. Many of the surviving ones were permanently injured. Crimeans were terrified, and some of them wrote to friends in the West regarding the terror and their fears. All of this information is ignored by the proponents of the illegality of Crimea’s separation from Ukraine, because, clearly, the basic human rights of Crimeans were then under very palpable and severe threat by the U.S.-imposed forces; and, so, any ‘legal’ argument for forcing Crimeans to remain Ukrainians was and is fake. But, still, legal arguments for forcing Crimeans to be Ukrainians again are presented; and, so, here is a quick introduction to those frauds, so that the fraudulence of The West’s entire case against Russia may be made unquestionably clear.
The least politicized of the pro-Western (i.e., pro-U.S.-regime) articles regarding the relevant international laws on this topic concern not Crimea but the separatist movements of Kurdistan and Catalonia, because in the U.S.-and-allied international dictatorship (that is, the countries that are ruled by billionares who are allied with U.S. billionaires), no unanimity exists regarding those two breakaway-movements (Kurds and Catalonians); so, the legal principles aren’t such a threat to the U.S.-and-allied lies about Russia. (The U.S. isn’t trying to conquer Kurds and Catalonians.) Here are highlights from this law-article, and I boldface what I consider key statements there:
ASIL [American Society of International Law] Insights, v. 22, issue 1
Milena Sterio, 5 January 2018
The theory of self-determination, as justifying the secession of a people from its existing mother state as a matter of last resort only, in situations where the people is oppressed or where the mother state’s government does not legitimately represent the people’s interests, has remained constant throughout the 20th century development of international law. Two United Nations’ declarations, in addition to the United Nations Charter itself, have addressed the issue of self-determination. …
Both declarations … envisioned self-determination leading to secession as a matter of last resort only within the decolonization paradigm: here, both conditions for a right to self-determination were met insofar as colonized peoples were oppressed and their colonial governments did not adequately represent their interests. Both declarations also confirmed the importance of the principle of territorial integrity of existing states,  and thus embraced the idea that self-determination could lead to the territorial disruption of existing states only in extreme instances of oppression or colonization. …
Peoples who are oppressed or colonized, however, have the right to external self-determination, which they may exercise through secession from their mother state. This view of self-determination was confirmed in 1998, in the Canadian Supreme Court opinion regarding the proposed secession of Quebec from Canada, where the Court held that all peoples are entitled to various modes of internal self-determination, but that only some peoples, such as those subjected to conquest, colonization, and perhaps oppression, may acquire the right to external self-determination through remedial secession. Today, it may be concluded that international law bestows on all peoples the right to self-determination, but that the right to external self-determination, exercised through remedial secession, only applies in extreme circumstances, to colonized and severely persecuted peoples.
While international law embraces the principle of self-determination, it does not contain a right of secession. It may be argued that international law merely tolerates secession in instances of external self-determination, where a people is colonized or oppressed (like in the case of Kosovo). In addition, secession is prohibited under international law if the secessionist entity is attempting to separate by violating another fundamental norm of international law, such as the prohibition on the use of force (like in the case of Northern Cyprus). In other instances of attempted secession, where the relevant people is not oppressed, as in Quebec or Scotland, international law is neutral on secession—it does not support a right to secession nor does it prohibit secession. Instead, the secessionist dispute is left to the realm of domestic law and to political negotiations between the mother state and the secessionist entity.
Following are two influential articles reaffirming the U.S. regime’s view, that the breakaway was and is illegitimate. In the first, the lie is simply presumed true that the overthrow of the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, during 20-26 February 2014, was a domestic democratic revolution, instead of a foreign-imposed coup. In the second, international law, as was just summarized above here, is simply ignored.
Netherlands International Law Review
December 2015, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 329–363| Cite as
Simone F. van den Driest [whose 404-page 2013 Ph.D dissertation, at Netherlands’ Tilburg University, was “Remedial Secession”], First Online: 30 November 2015
This article considers the (il)legality of Crimea’s unilateral secession from Ukraine from the perspective of public international law. It examines whether the right to self-determination or an alleged right to (remedial) secession could serve as a legal basis for the separation of the Crimean Peninsula, as the Crimean authorities and the Russian Federation seem to have argued. The article explains that beyond the context of decolonization, the right to self-determination does not encompass a general right to unilateral secession and demonstrates that contemporary international law does not acknowledge a right to remedial secession. With respect to the case of Crimea, it argues that even when assuming that such a right does exist, the threshold in this regard is not met. In the absence of a legal entitlement, the article subsequently turns to the question whether Crimea’s unilateral secession was prohibited under international law. It contends that while the principle of territorial integrity discourages unilateral secession, it does not actually prohibit it. Nonetheless, there are situations in which an attempt at unilateral secession is considered to be illegal in view of the circumstances. It is argued that it is precisely this exception that is relevant in the case of Crimea. …
[Text now:] The Russian Federation (implicitly) relied on the doctrine of remedial secession, which is seen to encompass a right to unilateral secession in case of serious injustices suffered by a people. [which were unquestionably present] President Putin advanced remedial arguments in his speech of 18 March, contending that
those who opposed the coup were immediately threatened with repression. Naturally, the first in line here was Crimea, the Russian-speaking Crimea. In view of this, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol turned to Russia for help in defending their rights and lives […]. [N]aturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress.7
To the same effect, the Russian Federation claimed in the Security Council that there had been ‘threats of violence by ultranationalists against the security, lives and legitimate interests of Russians and all Russian-speaking peoples’ in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and that ‘the issue is one of defending our citizens and compatriots, as well as the most import[ant] human right—the right to life’.8
The accuracy of these views presented, however, is highly questionable under contemporary international law [and all the rest of the article discusses none of the allegations that Putin asserted there, but only international law. Not even once in this article is anything like the word “coup” used in relation to the overthrow of Yanukovych — the overthrow that had sparked Crimeans to demand restoration to Russia. Instead the article simply assumes that there was no coup whatsoever: “The Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, which was initiated by the Euromaidan movement in the capital of Kiev, had significant effects in Crimea.” That’s all. However, that statement was false: It was no “revolution,” and it clearly was a coup. Furthermore: even if it had been a “revolution,” it was not “initiated by the Euromaidan movement in the capital of Kiev — it was initiated by the Barack Obama Administration in the summer of 2011, and started to be implemented inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev on 1 March 2013. The Euromaidan movement started on 21 November 2013. So, this author is merely assuming that “the Euromaidan movement” wasn’t part of a coup-operation by the U.S. regime.]
All in all, it should be concluded that the arguments involving an alleged right to self-determination and (remedial) secession as advanced by the Crimean and Russian authorities in attempting to justify the events on the Crimean Peninsula cannot be upheld. On the contrary: Crimea’s unilateral secession from Ukraine clearly was illegal under international law.
Lithuanian Annual Strategic Review, 2015-2016, v. 14 [published by General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania]
Erika Leonaitė & Dainius Žalimas, both of Vilnius University
it is essential to point out that a coup d’etat and the issues of constitutionality in general are matters of national rather than international law. In terms of international law, importance falls not on the constitutionality of the government, but on its effectiveness, i.e. its capability to efficiently control the territory of the state and to ensure compliance with international commitments. [In other words: any national government that can suppress and crush a secession movement is adhering to international law, according to these writers.] Even where the government is unable to carry out effective control (in political science, the concept of a “failed state” is used to refer to these cases), relations with such a state must be continued based on the principles of sovereign equality, the prohibition of the use of force [the writers mean “use of force” by any foreign govertnment, not “use of force” by the given nation’s government in order to suppress and crush any secession movement], respect for territorial integrity, and other fundamental international legal principles; other states are not released from the obligations with respect to this state [in other words: foreign nations must never side with nor support a secession movement within a country. Blatantly false allegations like that are publishable by General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania.]
U.S. President Barack Obama restored in full the Cold War that his predecessor George Herbert Walker Bush had only secretly extended into the future on the American side covertly on 24 February 1990, and Obama did this in two main steps. In 2012, he pushed and signed into law the Magnitsky Act which was based on the fraud by Bill Browder, who functioned in coordination with George Soros, another billionaire who leads in intensifying America’s war against Russia. Then, in June 2011, at the latest, he started the planning for the February 2014 Ukrainian coup.
In June 2013 (well before the ‘democratic revolution’ in Ukraine started), NAVFAC, the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, published on its website, a “Project Description” for “Renovation of School#5, Sevastopol, Ukraine,” under the euphemistic title “EUCOM Humanitarian Assistance Program”. EUCOM is the U.S. European Command — it is purely military, not “humanitarian,” at all. The 124-page request for proposals (RFP) showed extensive photos of the existing school, and also of the toilets, floor-boards, and other U.S.-made products, that the U.S. regime was requiring to be used in the renovation (by some American corporation, yet to be determined) of that then-Ukrainian school in Crimea, which at that time was a Ukrainian Government property, not at all American-owned or operated. So: why were U.S. taxpayers supposed to fund this ‘humanitarian’ operation, by the U.S. military?
The U.S. accuses Russia of trying to “seize” land, but the U.S. does that routinely, and today’s Russia certainly does not. The great threat to world peace is not Russia; it is the imperialistic and lying U.S. regime, itself. The EU and other cooperators with it are accessories to enormous crimes, and likewise lie profusely.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.