putinNote: This is an update and addition to two previous posts, “Explainer: What’s Going on in Ukraine?” and “What Just Happened with Russia and Ukraine?.”

So what just happened in Crimea?

On Sunday, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia. Today Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty making Crimea part of Russia (it was a former satellite state of the Soviet Union). Putin says he does not plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine.

Why would Russia want to annex Crimea?

In 1997, Crimea and Russia signed a treaty allowing Russia to maintain their naval base at Sevastopol, on Crimea’s southwestern tip (the lease is good through 2042). The base is Russia’s primary means of extending military force through the Mediterranean. (The Black Sea is connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus Straits.) Without a military base in Crimea, Russia would be weakened as a global military power.

Earlier this month Russia’s parliment authorized a Putin to use the military on Crimea. (Technically, Russia’s parliament authorized Russia’s military forces to enter “Ukraine,” giving themselves a legal cloak to target more than Crimea.)

Where (and what) exactly is Crimea?

Black_Sea_mapCrimea is a semi-autonomous region located on a peninsula of the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is an autonomous parliamentary republic within Ukraine and is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The region chose to become part of Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

If Crimea is an “Autonomous Republic” then what is wrong with them voting to join Russia?

According to Article 73 of the Ukrainian Constitution, “Alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by the All-Ukrainian referendum.” Crimeans didn’t ask the rest of Ukraine what they thought — they just voted to leave (and the results — 97-percent in favor of seceding — appear to be rigged). International law also does not recognize a right to secede, but it also steers clear of prohibiting unilateral declarations of independence.

Putin claims bringing Crimea back into the Russian fold is “reunification.” He even cheekily said he was sure Germans would understand the Russian people’s quest for reunification, just as Russia had supported German reunification in 1990.

Why does this matter?

The Russian intervention in Crimea could encourage other secession movements and challenge the very principles of a stable world order. Stewart M. Patrick, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, outlines some of the concerns:

Moscow’s intervention is testing several fundamental norms of world politics: It challenges established principles of sovereignty and nonintervention, it raises the specter of a return to great power spheres of influence, and it elevates the principle of nationality over citizenship. Moreover, it has already exposed, yet again, the weakness of collective security in the face of destabilizing action by a great power.

 

Other posts in this series:

What Just Happened with Russia and Ukraine?

What’s Going on in Ukraine

What You Should Know About the Jobs Report

The Hobby Lobby Amicus Briefs

What is Net Neutrality?

What is Common Core?

What’s Going on in Syria?

What’s Going on in Egypt?

Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis

Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis

George argues that on controversial issues, traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs are actually rationally superior to secular liberal alternatives.

$12.00

  • Roger McKinney

    Based on an NPR interview with Russian specialist Steven Cohen at NYU,
    it appears that the US and Big EZ pulled off a coup with the takeover of
    the Ukrainian government by armed thugs, the most violent of whom are
    neo-Nazis. The government they overthrew was elected in 2010 in
    elections monitored and approved by the US and EU. The thugs in power
    now are not the legit government. In light of the coup, it would seem
    that Crimea had every right to choose to follow the thugs or go
    independent. The US and Big EZ are embarrassed and angry that their coup
    failed to keep Ukraine intact. The coup was illegal under Ukrainian and
    international law, but the US and Big EZ endorsed it.

    Any law
    that prevents a region from seceding from a political union is immoral.
    The principles of the US Declaration of Independence still apply. People
    have the right to secede and form their own government if they decide
    the government has violated their God-given rights.

    At this point, every region of Ukraine should vote whether to remain with the illegal government in Kiev or become independent.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdLrXPnp0zs Menachem Mevashir

      Excellent comment Roger. I am in 100% agreement with you!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdLrXPnp0zs Menachem Mevashir

    “The Russian intervention in Crimea could encourage other secession movements and challenge the very principles of a stable world order. Stewart M. Patrick, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, outlines some of the concerns:

    Moscow’s intervention is testing several fundamental norms of world politics: It challenges established principles of sovereignty and nonintervention, it raises the specter of a return to great power spheres of influence, and it elevates the principle of nationality over citizenship. Moreover, it has already exposed, yet again, the weakness of collective security in the face of destabilizing action by a great power.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Pathetic comment. Why is “stability” an end in itself, especially if accompanied by injustice? National self determination is supposed to be a high American value as our own Revolution attests.

    Your comments evince no awareness of the American role in destabilizing the situation in Ukraine, breaking treaties with Moscow not to threaten her borders, and its promotion of Fascist groups within Ukraine.

    What about Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and other regions? Silence! So your standards seem highly selective and self serving.

    I suspect the author opposes the succession because keeping Ukraine Catholic is the highest consideration for the Vatican.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdLrXPnp0zs Menachem Mevashir

      It is very disappointing to me to see a Catholic publication take what appears to be a knee jerk jingoistic response to the Ukraine situation. Especially since contemporary Russia embodies the conservative social values that Catholics are supposed to endorse. For example recently the Russian Parliament voted 438-0 to ban gay marriage! Yet this was hardly acknowledged amongst the same right wing American churches that seem to enjoy beating the drums for war against an enemy that has much in common with their own values.

      Russia will be hosting an international family values conference this year too. Perhaps the people of Ukraine desire to associate with this kind of society rather than their own, which is sunk in corruption and ruled by a rich clique of oligarchs such as recently deposed by Putin.

      In short Putin is the very antithesis of the degenerate values of both Obama and Western Europe and it disappoints and bewilders me that Catholics would castigate him!

      • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

        thanks for your comment, Menachem. If you are referring to the PowerBlog as a “Catholic publication” that is incorrect. We are broadly ecumenical here — Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim — and in no way institutionally connected to or supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Take a look at the faculty for AU, if you have a minute: http://university.acton.org/2014faculty

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdLrXPnp0zs Menachem Mevashir

      Also so far as the hysteria over anti-Semitism goes, Putin appears to be the most pro-Jewish Russian leader perhaps in history. See these for example: http://www.timesofisrael.com/when-putin-met-his-jewish-german-teacher-in-israel/

      At 15:00 into this clip Putin criticizes Iran for its excessively hostile and provocative rhetoric against Israel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33oIF-ggK5U