The Crimean Crisis

Questions:

1. From an editorial in yesterday’s New York Times (March 2):

Has Crimea now become a Sudetenland? Or is it just a Grenada? Some Western commentators have already suggested the former, comparing President Vladimir V. Putin’s dispatch of Russian forces to Hitler’s 1938 annexation of German-populated parts of Czechoslovakia. In his 90-minute telephone call with President Obama on Saturday, Mr. Putin used a novel justification for his country’s attack on a neighboring state: protecting the interests of both Russian citizens and “compatriots” – code not just for ethnic Russians but for anyone with a political or cultural disposition toward Russia.

2. From this morning’s Globe and Mail (March 3):

Doug Saunders asks:

Is Mr. Putin really willing to throw away his economic relations with the West – worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually – simply in order to add Crimea back to Russia’s territory? On the face of it, this makes little sense, as Russia has been fully able to get the only thing it wants from Crimea – a secure Black Sea naval base – since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, without having to support a poor and fractious population.

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2 responses to “The Crimean Crisis

  1. Putin’s position seems logical enough to me for three reasons.

    First, about three quarters of Crimeans are Russian-speakers and only about 11 per cent Ukrainian. How could the Russian leader abandon his fellow Russians in the Crimea without looking impossibly weak at home?

    Second, Russia’s vital Black Sea fleet is based in the Crimea. Of course the Russian leader wants to protect it and no doubt feels the revolutionary regime in Kiev can’t be trusted. Indeed, this new government is very fragile and some of its supporters are openly anti-Russian (as well as anti-Semitic) extremists.

    Third, Putin’s position has the logic of recent history. Russia intervened a few years ago in Georgia to help the South Ossetians and Abghazians become independent, and, while the Western powers complained for a while, they did nothing else.

    If anything, Russian actions in the last few days seem restrained, since the other Ukrainian oblasts where Russians predominate have so far been left alone.

  2. On whether President Putin’s moves vis-a-vis Ukraine are right or wrong I wouldn’t venture a beep. From the perspective of domestic political legitimacy he reportedly secured an overwhelming support by Russian Parliament. Geopolitically, his message to President Obama and the rest, seems to be ‘if others who can defend their geopolitical interests do so, so can we’. (In the mode of ‘Yes, we scan’.) On the point of comparing the situation with the 1938 annexation of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia the below reference reveals an instance of how inextricably complex geopolitical situations lend themselves to being propagandistically ‘reframed’.
    27. 1. 2014 Mnichovská zrada (The Munich Betrayal) http://www.blisty.cz/art/71912.html
    (English translation by Google)