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Published On: Wed, Mar 19th, 2014

Crimea: Between Russia and the West

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Crimea Between Russia and the WestUkraine’s mainly ethnic Russian region of Crimea voted by a hefty 96% to be independent of Ukraine last Sunday, following which its parliament opened negotiation with Moscow to join the Russian Federation. The West is screaming blue murder, claiming that Russia, according to US Vice President Joe Biden, has made a dash for land grab. Already, the European Union and the United States are saying that they would roll out a battery of sanctions to drive their angst at Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a treaty formally accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation. In a fiery speech in the Russian Duma (parliament), he accused the West of hypocrisy and double standard, saying “you cannot call the same thing black today and white tomorrow”, a reference to the West’s frenzied support for Kosovo independence from Serbia. Kosovo, with an ethnic Albanian majority, was overwhelmingly backed by the West which gave it enormous diplomatic leverage.

In the case of Crimea, historically a part of Russia, it was administratively transferred to the Ukraine Federation of the former Soviet Union by President Nikita Kruschev in 1954. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 19th century, Crimea subsisted uneasily as part of the independent state of Ukraine until the political upheaval of last month that resulted in the mob overthrow of the democratically elected president of Ukraine, Mr. Viktor Yanukovich, instigated by the West. In the capital, Kiev, the mob restorted to extreme anti-Russia rhetoric, triggering well founded fears among ethnic Russians in particularly Crimea.

The Sunday referendum which was endorsed overwhelmingly paved the way for the return of Crimea to its original Russian home land. As the West makes aggressive moves to impose sanctions on Russia, the latter’s politicians have called them “face-saving” and predicted that they would fail. They pointed that Russia is too self-assured and confident to be rattled by sanctions threats.

We believe that in the unfolding drama in Ukraine and now in bitter conflict with Moscow, the West, especially the United States, has itself to blame. To have instigated a street demonstration to overthrow a constitutional government in spite of an agreement to install an all inclusive transitional government in lieu of easily elections was courting chaos. The full outcome is always unpredictable as the current unfolding Ukraine scenario demonstrates. The West propped up Kosovo for independence without a democratic pretence of a referendum against protestations from Serbia unlike Crimea which put the matter to a vote and was carried with an overwhelming endorsement by its people who preferred to return to Russia.

We counsel that in the West’s high politics of seeking to contain Moscow, the voice of the Crimea people which is loud and clear should be respected. If the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo numbering less than the ethnic Russians in Crimea would have their choice which was respected, we urge the same for the Crimean people who have chosen to join the Russian Federation.

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