2016-04-30

How Russian intellectial justifies Crimean annexation

The International Affairs journal that positions itself as an intellectual media of the Russian Foreign Ministry is famous for its high quality materials. The following article "A right to self-determination, not for everyone" was published in the journal on April 27, 2016. Its author, Andrey Isaev, tries to show that Russian annexation of the Crimea was legitimate because there are cases in the modern world history when countries were allowed by the world community to occupy and annex territories.

First, the author is saying that he can't understand why Western countries demand from Russia to give up on the Crimea and stop interfering in the domestic affairs of the neighboring Ukraine.

"It is hard to understand why Russia became a part of the internal crisis in Ukraine and why Crimea should be returned to somewhere after clear declaration of its people will. But nevertheless it is how strange logic of the US and EU leaders look like."

Further the author makes a point that there are many cases in the world where modern states with a distinct history of state building have territorial disputes. The cases of Olivenca municipality, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh are used to show that the Crimean crisis was not the only case in the recent history and such attention to the Russian policy is not justified and in fact artificially driven by the outside players.

Next, the author gets to analyzing two particularly interesting cases that in his view could be further used as additional justification to the Russian case. The war of 1967 between Arab states and Israel and subsequent Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights are a perfect example when a state "follows realpolitik, i.e. a policy with unconditional superiority of its national interests over the international law." For author, the timid reaction of the world community and especially of Israel's main ally, America, suggest that occupation is criticized by seen as legitimate. Indeed, author writes, Israel considers the Golan heights as strategically, politically and economically too important to think of their transfer to any Syrian government.

Another case is the Turkish occupation of the Cyprus in July 1974. Author underlines that despite being a NATO member back then Turkey wasn't punished by further sanctions and international isolation. Moreover, Turkish government now is conducting negotiations over visa-free travel with the European countries. 

Why is that? Why do Western countries oppose so staunchly Russian annexation of the Crimea, asks the author. 

"We should acknowledge that West has a grudge against Russia. All efforts against its policy were initiated at the moment when Russia's influence in the world began growing. After Russia got a status of a global player, Western countries got irritated and with time it became more evident."

It is still not clear why a mere fact of existence of several case when state decided to occupy a land should in any way justify Russian actions in Ukraine. I guess by citing two above mentioned examples author somehow wanted to hint that there was a political and economical or even humanitarian necessity to annex Crimea. In Israeli occupation of Golan as with the Turkish case of Cyprus occupation world community seems to acknowledge that occupation is a necessary step (even though illegal) to provide regional stability. It is hard to buy the same argumentation in the Russian case, especially if you take into consideration the ongoing build up of NATO efforts in the eastern Europe and civil war in Ukraine that can further draw the whole region into deeper standoff.

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