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Serious Still can't get over Crimea... What next for Russia and the world?

Finland

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Yes, it has been a while, but I still can't get over Crimea. It's just so crazy to me that a major world power took a sizable (and very strategically important) chunk of land from a sovereign power. This isn't the 1800s, and no matter how powerful they are, a major world power with a seat in the Security Council can't run around like its some antiquated empire. Or so I thought... and as they did it, how did the rest of the world respond to this anachronistic madness? Sanctions. Great.

Yeah, Ukraine has corruption problems. I know. They're still totally sovereign though, and it's not like Russia doesn't have its own very large corruption problems. And I know Russia as the RSFSR technically gave it to the Ukranian SSR during the Soviet Union, but that's no excuse for something like this. By that logic, let's have the US reconquer the Phillipines. We "gave" them independence and all of their land.

I hate to be callous, but will admit that they could have picked worse places to invade. But now that Russia has confidence, who knows how far they will go? They do border key countries outside of its influences and in pacts such as the EU (inc. Poland, Finland, Estonia). If they make too much of a move, do we have a much much worse WWI as alliances are tested? Do countries just capitulate to a neo-Soviet Union? This seems dramatic, but it's not that huge a stretch some years or decades down the road.

What do you think? Do you share my very strong concern, think I am way overreacting, or perhaps somewhere in between? And what comes next for Russia and the world, from their increasing involvement in the Middle East to their relations to the East in China and Japan as well as West.
 
As they should, Russia shouldn't be allowed to invade their neighbors and take their land. It's not even a question, no country would stand for such a thing.

From what I've seen it's very likely that a large portion of Crimeans really did want to join Russia. Given the historical context (former Soviet Union, large Russian speaking population, the weird administrative move from Russia to the Ukraine in the 50s, etc.), it does make sense. But that isn't really the issue though. The issue is that Russia unilaterally annexed the territory from another sovereign nation. I still haven't heard a convincing argument for how the action itself was justified, but that could just be due to my own ignorance on the topic.
 

Stratos

Banned deucer.

the rest of the western world needs to lay a line for russia and say "if you cross this line you're going to war." this line should be negotiated rather than unilaterally declared but it needs to exist, and it cannot be redrawn. this is also a good policy for any expansionist power
 

Finland

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marching up to putin and threatening war is probably not going to have the desired effect
What's the alternative? Letting him get away with whatever he wants until he's at Berlin's doorstep and you have no choice? Once he are willing to do something like that, there's no limit to how far he can escalate. Do tell me if I'm missing something, but I just don't see another way.
 

the rest of the western world needs to lay a line for russia and say "if you cross this line you're going to war." this line should be negotiated rather than unilaterally declared but it needs to exist, and it cannot be redrawn. this is also a good policy for any expansionist power
That's what the Russians did.
After the Soviet Union broke the NATO and Russia agreed on keeping the status quo and the NATO won't go further than eastern Germany. As we all know, the NATO broke this promise and kept getting eatern european countries. Still the Russians tolerated that, but also said that they won't allow the NATO to expand until their frontiers and if they do this will cause war. This end the fact that the crimea is strategically important to Russia to do being their Black Sea base are important to understand Russia's reaction in this conflict.
This ended in the war in Georgia and the ucrainian conflict. Russia is in no means the "aggressive power" here, but just defending it's interests against NATO "imperialism". Russia keeps losing influence in eastern Europe, while the NATO keeps coming closer to their boders, so: Who is the aggressor here? Russia? Doubt it.

As for crimea, it was an independce referendum in which the people living there agreed to independence and then decided to join the Russian Federation. There are basically no differences to Montenegro or Kosovo in which case we even have a verdict, that allows declarances of independce. Of couse besides the fact, that tey are on "our" site, while Crimea prefers Russia. It's kinda bullshit to call it an annexation.

I don't know how anyone can come to the conclusion that Russia is "running around like an antiquated empire"
 
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Codraroll

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That's what the Russians did.
After the Soviet Union broke the NATO and Russia agreed on keeping the status quo and the NATO won't go further than eastern Germany. As we all know, the NATO broke this promise and kept getting eatern european countries.
No deal, agreement, treaty or promise was ever stuck on this issue. Go check the historical documents. I believe it was mentioned in passing once, during the negotiations on the reunification of Germany, but at no point did NATO promise anything.

Still the Russians tolerated that, but also said that they won't allow the NATO to expand until their frontiers and if they do this will cause war.
NATO has been on the Russian border for fifty years or so anyway, in Norway (and Kaliningrad, I guess). Later, the Baltic countries joined. Ukraine joining NATO would dramatically increase the length of the NATO-Russian border, but it's not like that border never existed before. Besides, threats of invasion and war hardly makes Russia's neghbours less inclined towards seeking protection from a military alliance to defend their sovereignity.


This end the fact that the crimea is strategically important to Russia to do being their Black Sea base are important to understand Russia's reaction in this conflict. This ended in the war in Georgia and the ucrainian conflict. Russia is in no means the "aggressive power" here, but just defending it's interests against NATO "imperialism".
Did the Ukrainian government ever say or do anything that threatened Russian interests to the point of warranting the theft of Crimea? The closest justification the Russian MoD ever gave was an Ukrainian bill on the status on the Russian language, which wasn't even passed. It's unlikely that Russia would have been asked to leave Crimea if they had let power transfer peacefully. Russia and Ukraine were on good terms, even after Poroshenko was ousted from office. It's what happened afterwards that soured the relationship.

For that matter, after Russia's recent hostility, it's in the interest of Ukraine that the Russian Black Sea fleet pack up and leave Crimea. It's de jure their land after all, so their interests should weigh heavier in an international court.


Russia keeps losing influence in eastern Europe, while the NATO keeps coming closer to their boders
Now you're getting close to the core of the matter here. The Kremlin seems to feel entitled to have "influence" in eastern Europe. Shouldn't the countries themselves, as represented by the democratically elected governments, be allowed to align themselves westward if that was the desire of the population? Russia losing influence in eastern Europe isn't a violation of Russia's god-given gift to dictate the policy of these countries. It's a backlash against the Kremlin's rule that was imposed on these countries for decades. The countries joined NATO by their own will, after applying for membership.


, so: Who is the aggressor here? Russia? Doubt it.
Well, that open military invasion using soldiers without insignia (which is a war crime, by the way), can clearly be labelled anything but "aggression". Lots of "little green men" who one day seized official buildings, blocked Ukrainian military bases, and guarded the Crimean parliament building, where a local thug had declared himself governor, with standing orders not to reveal where they came from. And later, after the matter was settled, Putin admitted they were Russian. Maybe one day the Russian "ex"-soldiers who died in the ditches of Donetsk will get the same acknowledgement of citizenship from their government, instead of anonymous graves and deaths their relatives are forbidden from inquiring on, under the threat of losing their pensions.


As for crimea, it was an independce referendum in which the people living there agreed to independence and then decided to join the Russian Federation. There are basically no differences to Montenegro or Kosovo in which case we even have a verdict, that allows declarances of independce. Of couse besides the fact, that tey are on "our" site, while Crimea prefers Russia. It's kinda bullshit to call it an annexation.
You forget that the matters of Kosovo and Montenegro both passed through the UN, and was backed by several Security Council resolutions. In Crimea, the vote was held by gunpoint, acknowledged by no government outside Putin's club of oppressive dictatorships, including that of Ukraine (and also, ironically, Crimea itself. The decision to even have a referendum was pushed through by voting fraud). There's also the issue that during the weeks leading up to the referendum, only Russian media was allowed to operate and broadcast to the population of Crimea. Ukrainian TV channels were blocked, and there was problems with Internet access.

I don't know how anyone can come to the conclusion that Russia is "running around like an antiquated empire"
The desperation not to lose a "sphere of influence", as if that is something Russia is naturally entitled to, and the willingness to use force and break the rules of national sovereignity and jus in bello to do so, kinda fits that description like a glove. Russia wants to be a superpower, despite those times having passed a long time ago. Russia has a GDP smaller than Italy's, a population smaller than that of Bangladesh, and seems to be on speaking terms only with a handful of post-Soviet dictatorships in their close vincinity.
 
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Joim

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As for crimea, it was an independce referendum in which the people living there agreed to independence and then decided to join the Russian Federation. There are basically no differences to Montenegro or Kosovo in which case we even have a verdict, that allows declarances of independce. Of couse besides the fact, that tey are on "our" site, while Crimea prefers Russia. It's kinda bullshit to call it an annexation.

I don't know how anyone can come to the conclusion that Russia is "running around like an antiquated empire"
Bullshit. People living there voted with guns aiming at their heads. Source: the civilians living there that survived, many of their women raped.
 
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And why did pro russian parties usually win elections on crimea with overwhelming majorities if the people would have prefered to stay in Ukraine? Also think about your tone Joim if you want to discuss with me. Thank you

I'll answer Codraroll when I'm at home.
 

Finland

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And why did pro russian parties usually win elections on crimea with overwhelming majorities if the people would have prefered to stay in Ukraine? Also think about your tone Joim if you want to discuss with me. Thank you

I'll answer Codraroll when I'm at home.
If the vote was rigged, unduly pressured, etc., it doesn't really matter.

And it doesn't matter anyways, since (illegal) annexation is when a country takes a sovereign country's territory without consent from the country it took territory from. Mexico can't take Texas if Texas does a referendum. Ireland can't take Northern Ireland if NI has a referendum. The US and UK are in charge of those areas.
 

Codraroll

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And why did pro russian parties usually win elections on crimea with overwhelming majorities if the people would have prefered to stay in Ukraine?
The pro-Russian sentiment of Crimea isn't really a matter of much debate. It's possible that they'd vote for joining Russia in a fair and recognized referendum, if it came to vote. But still, it's a very flimsy ground for annexation, as national sovereignity should carry some weight too. The majority of the population in Karelia would probably vote for joining Finland if it ever came to vote too, but Finland don't send their little green men to pry it from Russia regardless. The desire of the people to be independent doesn't seem to weigh too heavily in the Chechnya case either.

If anything, it makes the actions of Russia even more questionable. If the population could have voted to join Russia in a peaceful and fair referendum, why send troops to take it by force? Why make the referendum such an absolute sham? Why not take the matter to the UN, pass some resolution opening up for more Russian military presence, or negotiate directly with the government of Ukraine? Why lie and say the troops weren't Russian? Putin seems to insist that the theft of Crimea was "the will of the people", but he surely went to great lenghts to ensure the people wanted the right thing, that the international community got no chance to intervene, and that there was no time for dissenting voices to have their say.

As for the Russian tradition of consulting the people's opinion in politics, look no further than the current governor of Crimea. How did he get into office? How many voted for his party the last time there was an election?
 

Joim

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And why did pro russian parties usually win elections on crimea with overwhelming majorities if the people would have prefered to stay in Ukraine? Also think about your tone Joim if you want to discuss with me. Thank you

I'll answer Codraroll when I'm at home.
Because they were held at gunpoint, basically. If it's bullshit, it's bullshit, nothing to do with tone, it's just what it is.

PS: Russia is so big with freedom it has absorbed many republics within, and armed pro-Russian independentist movements on other countries while keeping their republics in by forc.e
 
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No deal, agreement, treaty or promise was ever stuck on this issue. Go check the historical documents. I believe it was mentioned in passing once, during the negotiations on the reunification of Germany, but at no point did NATO promise anything.
I just checked 2+4 again and you are right, they never discussed about NATO expanding to the east, because it seemed unrealistic back than. I somehow missed Gorbatschow clearing this issue last yera. me culpa. I guess you will agree with me that the Russian didn't like it though. And I think (this is a matter of opinion) that it is unnecessary to provoke them by getting closer to their borders, because we do not need the baltics etc in the NATO.
Also they made clear in the 1990s or 2000s that they do not want Ukraine or Georgia in the NATO. Even I knew that, so I am pretty sure that top tier politicans also knew that.

NATO has been on the Russian border for fifty years or so anyway, in Norway (and Kaliningrad, I guess). Later, the Baltic countries joined. Ukraine joining NATO would dramatically increase the length of the NATO-Russian border, but it's not like that border never existed before. Besides, threats of invasion and war hardly makes Russia's neghbours less inclined towards seeking protection from a military alliance to defend their sovereignity.
The border to Norway barly matters, it's small as fuck. And Kaliningrad became a border to NATO as soon as Poland joined. That's not 50 years ago. And honestly: Do you really think Russia threatend any eastern europe country with invasion? The scenario of Russia attacking the Baltics/Ukraine/Poland is just as likely as Germany attacking France or Poland.


Did the Ukrainian government ever say or do anything that threatened Russian interests to the point of warranting the theft of Crimea? The closest justification the Russian MoD ever gave was an Ukrainian bill on the status on the Russian language, which wasn't even passed. It's unlikely that Russia would have been asked to leave Crimea if they had let power transfer peacefully. Russia and Ukraine were on good terms, even after Poroshenko was ousted from office. It's what happened afterwards that soured the relationship.

For that matter, after Russia's recent hostility, it's in the interest of Ukraine that the Russian Black Sea fleet pack up and leave Crimea. It's de jure their land after all, so their interests should weigh heavier in an international court.
It was a new government that was supposed to be in favor of the west. In case Ukraine joined the NATO/EU I am pretty sure that they would have been asked to leave Crimea. Why would the NATO allow a Russian fleet on their territory?


Now you're getting close to the core of the matter here. The Kremlin seems to feel entitled to have "influence" in eastern Europe. Shouldn't the countries themselves, as represented by the democratically elected governments, be allowed to align themselves westward if that was the desire of the population? Russia losing influence in eastern Europe isn't a violation of Russia's god-given gift to dictate the policy of these countries. It's a backlash against the Kremlin's rule that was imposed on these countries for decades. The countries joined NATO by their own will, after applying for membership.
The democratically elected government of the Ukrain didn't want to align westwards. A coup d'état was necessary to make them want this. So was it really the desire of the population or just the desire of some rebells?
I do not know if the eastern countries applied first or got invited first, I read sources confirming both and do not feel like I am the person to judge. Of course Russia has no god-given gift to dictate the policy of these countries[sic], but neither do we. We could have just let there countries be neutral between Russia and the NATO.


Well, that open military invasion using soldiers without insignia (which is a war crime, by the way), can clearly be labelled anything but "aggression". Lots of "little green men" who one day seized official buildings, blocked Ukrainian military bases, and guarded the Crimean parliament building, where a local thug had declared himself governor, with standing orders not to reveal where they came from. And later, after the matter was settled, Putin admitted they were Russian. Maybe one day the Russian "ex"-soldiers who died in the ditches of Donetsk will get the same acknowledgement of citizenship from their government, instead of anonymous graves and deaths their relatives are forbidden from inquiring on, under the threat of losing their pensions.
Wether you do not understand or do not want to understand what I said. I guess the latter applies since you seem to be intelligent. Of course in case of crimea Russia was the aggressor, but that's one single case. I am talking about global policies in general. And do you really think Russia is acting like an aggressor towards europe? Trying to expand their spheres of influence and get closer to western european borders?
Obviously they don't. They try to keep up status quo as it is and not losing all their power in the world. You might (and probably will) say that Russia isn't supposed to have power, but you always have to consider what other countries want when doing foreign policies.

I do not say that Russia handled this perfectly (or even good), but they defended their interests in a way that was to be expected. (compare: Georgia)


You forget that the matters of Kosovo and Montenegro both passed through the UN, and was backed by several Security Council resolutions. In Crimea, the vote was held by gunpoint, acknowledged by no government outside Putin's club of oppressive dictatorships, including that of Ukraine (and also, ironically, Crimea itself. The decision to even have a referendum was pushed through by voting fraud). There's also the issue that during the weeks leading up to the referendum, only Russian media was allowed to operate and broadcast to the population of Crimea. Ukrainian TV channels were blocked, and there was problems with Internet access.
In case of Kosovo Serbia stated that the unilateral declaration of independence violates international law. Still, they lost at the ICJ, which means that and unilateral declaration of independence is ok. Therefore I do not see, why the unilateral declaration of independence of the Crimea should violate international law.


The desperation not to lose a "sphere of influence", as if that is something Russia is naturally entitled to, and the willingness to use force and break the rules of national sovereignity and jus in bello to do so, kinda fits that description like a glove. Russia wants to be a superpower, despite those times having passed a long time ago. Russia has a GDP smaller than Italy's, a population smaller than that of Bangladesh, and seems to be on speaking terms only with a handful of post-Soviet dictatorships in their close vincinity.
I agree with this, but as stated above I don't think we should just fuck around with the russian feelings. After 1990 a lot of western politicans acted like they won the cold war, instead of treating Russia like a partner. It's a declining superpower, but instead of making them feel on the same level we just make them feel worse. That doesn't help and just causes conflicts when they are not needed.

If the vote was rigged, unduly pressured, etc., it doesn't really matter.

And it doesn't matter anyways, since (illegal) annexation is when a country takes a sovereign country's territory without consent from the country it took territory from. Mexico can't take Texas if Texas does a referendum. Ireland can't take Northern Ireland if NI has a referendum. The US and UK are in charge of those areas.
Read the wikipedia article I linked for Kosovo and/or google Kosovo precedent.
Since the ICJ allowed unilateral delclarations of independce the scenarios you created do not violate international law.

The pro-Russian sentiment of Crimea isn't really a matter of much debate. It's possible that they'd vote for joining Russia in a fair and recognized referendum, if it came to vote. But still, it's a very flimsy ground for annexation, as national sovereignity should carry some weight too. The majority of the population in Karelia would probably vote for joining Finland if it ever came to vote too, but Finland don't send their little green men to pry it from Russia regardless. The desire of the people to be independent doesn't seem to weigh too heavily in the Chechnya case either.

If anything, it makes the actions of Russia even more questionable. If the population could have voted to join Russia in a peaceful and fair referendum, why send troops to take it by force? Why make the referendum such an absolute sham? Why not take the matter to the UN, pass some resolution opening up for more Russian military presence, or negotiate directly with the government of Ukraine? Why lie and say the troops weren't Russian? Putin seems to insist that the theft of Crimea was "the will of the people", but he surely went to great lenghts to ensure the people wanted the right thing, that the international community got no chance to intervene, and that there was no time for dissenting voices to have their say.

As for the Russian tradition of consulting the people's opinion in politics, look no further than the current governor of Crimea. How did he get into office? How many voted for his party the last time there was an election?
That's a good question and I was wondering that myself. Why did Putin chose the not very peaceful way of getting Crimea into Russia when there where other possibilities. I guess he probably did not trust the UN to really vote in his favor. But I honestly do not know the answer.

But don't get me wrong: I am not on the "Russia side" of this conflict. I think it's just pretty stupid since we should consider the Russians as partners, not as enemies. I don't really think there are reasons for this conflicts besides hurt egos of a declining superpower and disrespect on the other side.[/QUOTE]
 

Codraroll

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The border to Norway barly matters, it's small as fuck. And Kaliningrad became a border to NATO as soon as Poland joined. That's not 50 years ago.
Whoops, my bad on Kaliningrad. I always thought it lay closer to Germany, or at least to Bornholm (Denmark).


It was a new government that was supposed to be in favor of the west. In case Ukraine joined the NATO/EU I am pretty sure that they would have been asked to leave Crimea. Why would the NATO allow a Russian fleet on their territory?
The crux here is "in case". Until Crimea was seized, there was no popular sentiment in Ukraine for joining NATO, and it's unlikely NATO would even allow it (the presence of a Russian base would have been a pretty solid argument against membership). The new government was pro-Western to some degree, but not anti-Russia either. Russia was, and remains, Ukraine's biggest trading partner after all. Back in early 2014, there was no reason to worsen that relationship, and NATO would hardly have angered the Russians unnecessarily by diving into talks of membership either. As for EU membership, it might have been on the table, but it would have taken years for Ukraine to join anyway, and it might not have passed a popular referendum.


The democratically elected government of the Ukrain didn't want to align westwards. A coup d'état was necessary to make them want this. So was it really the desire of the population or just the desire of some rebells?
Well, the Maidan protests started because Yanukovych took a sudden 180-degree turn in the EU negotiations (him being in favour of cooperation with the EU was one of the key reasons why he was elected), to suddenly announce cooperation with Russia instead. The protests escalated all over Ukraine, Yanukovych tried to answer with violence, and was impeached by the democratically elected parliament. The rebels did not gain any political power until allowed so by the parliament, which was the same parliament that was elected back when Yanukovych was still in power. Many members loyal to Yanukovych did not show up for the vote, true, but they were not prevented from doing so. The assembly of parliament that day was entirely legal.

The details of the impeachment are a little controversial, though. It did follow the procedure of the 2004 constitution of Ukraine, which Yanukovych had put aside and changed in the 2010 constitution. Shortly before fleeing in 2014, Yanukovych had agreed to return to the 2004 constitution, and the decision had passed through parliament, but lacked the presidental signature to officially enter law. In other words, the only thing preventing the impeachment from following due procedure was the signature of the president himself.

I do not know if the eastern countries applied first or got invited first, I read sources confirming both and do not feel like I am the person to judge. Of course Russia has no god-given gift to dictate the policy of these countries[sic], but neither do we. We could have just let there countries be neutral between Russia and the NATO.
In either case, acquiring NATO membership is an entirely voluntary process that requires the initiative of the country in question. All these countries were run by democratically elected governments, which means they joined NATO by the will of the people. Their neutrality was respected - they were allowed to choose for themselves - and they chose to align westward. There was no reason for NATO and the EU to close the door for them, as they fulfilled the membership criteria and joined by their own will. Refusing them access would be akin to letting Russia dictate the policy of the EU.

Of course in case of crimea Russia was the aggressor, but that's one single case. I am talking about global policies in general. And do you really think Russia is acting like an aggressor towards europe? Trying to expand their spheres of influence and get closer to western european borders?
Obviously they don't. They try to keep up status quo as it is and not losing all their power in the world. You might (and probably will) say that Russia isn't supposed to have power, but you always have to consider what other countries want when doing foreign policies.
Well, what happens in East Ukraine suggests that Russia does not want to let go of influence over neighbouring countries. The Kremlin attempted to establish "Novorossiya", which failed as the attempts of quick seizure of government property was not as successful as it had been in Crimea two months prior. The Ukrainian government sent the army to break the rebellion, which was complicated because of overwhelming support by Russia. The Kremlin provides the rebels with weapons, manpower, intelligence, supplies, ammunition, training, maintenance, and on some occasions even direct artillery support across the Russian-Ukrainian border. The strategy appears to have changed since late 2014, when the "Novorossiya" project turned out too costly, and the rebels only controlled 8 % of the territory of Ukraine - and even less of the population, since most locals fled the area. A breakaway republic would be too small to exert any influence, and too costly for Russia to rebuild and maintain after the lengthy war. Instead, they push for federalization of Ukraine, a system where each federal unit could veto any changes in foreign policy. The vote of Donetsk and Luhansk would basically be decided in Moscow, giving the Kremlin a "hand on the wheel" in Ukraine's affairs.

As for whether they'd do the same to other European countries... well, given a new chance with the Baltic countries Putin probably would. Their NATO membership has made that a too costly stunt to be attempted, though, so it's probably a lost cause. Putin wouldn't go after West Europe directly, but seems determined not to let the neighbouring dictatorships slip away. It'd be interesting to see what would happen if a popular movement rose up against Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko, or against Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan. Lukashenko, surprisingly, seems to support Ukraine in this case, and appears to be determined to show the world he won't always follow where is Putin is pointing.


In case of Kosovo Serbia stated that the unilateral declaration of independence violates international law. Still, they lost at the ICJ, which means that and unilateral declaration of independence is ok. Therefore I do not see, why the unilateral declaration of independence of the Crimea should violate international law.
The case of Kosovo was somewhat special, with the war and all. The UN Security Council and the General Assembly had passed several resolutions on the status of Kosovo, among other things declaring it a protectorate of the UN. This was done following negotiations with the Serbian government, so Serbia seems to have agreed to let control of Kosovo pass at least temporarily.
On the other hand, Crimea was outright seized by Russian soldiers. A local thug declared himself governor and took control of the parliament building, and called for a referendum using the voting cards of MPs who were not present. All media but the Russian state-owned channels were blocked in Crimea, armed Russian soldiers took control over government institution, and the peninsula was effectively on lockdown until the referendum could be called. The options on the ballot boiled down to "Declare independence so the Parliament can vote on joining Russia" or "Just join Russia". The entire referendum was a sham, and not recognized by the EU, the UN, or the Ukrainian government. It has little in common with the Kosovar declaration of independence, and more with the Anschluss of Austria in 1938.

I agree with this, but as stated above I don't think we should just fuck around with the russian feelings. After 1990 a lot of western politicans acted like they won the cold war, instead of treating Russia like a partner. It's a declining superpower, but instead of making them feel on the same level we just make them feel worse. That doesn't help and just causes conflicts when they are not needed.
Russia was treated like a partner for many years. Trade was blooming, there was international cooperation on many fronts, and migration and tourism across the former Iron Curtain had been steadily growing. What soured the relationship was Vladimir Putin taking a steady turn towards authoritarianism, with the famous "tandem cycle maneuver" essentially granting him six consecutive terms in office, election rigging (Putin's party getting 99.7 % of the votes in Chechnya in 2009, despite ravaging the region with war ten years earlier), seizure of independent media, silencing of opposition (Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, recently Boris Nemtsov), and increasing nationalism. Stealing Crimea was just the latest event in a long chain that led to the West cutting ties with the Kremlin. The Russian population at large bears no responsibility for this, as they have little say in the politics of their country. Sadly, opposition to Putin is now succesfully branded "Russophobia" in Russian media. Had Russia been open and democratic, this situation would probably never have occurred.
 

Joim

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And honestly: Do you really think Russia threatend any eastern europe country with invasion? The scenario of Russia attacking the Baltics/Ukraine/Poland is just as likely as Germany attacking France or Poland.
The scenario of Russia attacking Ukraine has already happened. Crimea was basically conquered, the previous post already covers what really happened with Novorossiya.
The scenario of Russia violating Finland's air space happens often, and I don't see Russia returning Karelia anytime soon.
The scenario of the Russian minorities pushing Russian and pushing Latvian and Estonian aside in Latvia and Estonia while attempting to gain power and control over the countries is a reality.
The scenario of the people living in the Baltic area hating Russians for their imperialism and constant attempts to dominate them is also a reality.
 
Also they made clear in the 1990s or 2000s that they do not want Ukraine or Georgia in the NATO. Even I knew that, so I am pretty sure that top tier politicans also knew that.
It should totally be Ukraine and Georgia's choice if they want to join NATO, not Russia's! They shouldn't be disallowed to choose who they ally with just because it is inconvenient politically for Russia! Of course, if they want to stay neutral, they should be just as welcome to do so.
 
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