Sunday, March 2, 2014

Further note on Ukraine

Dan Nexon writes:
With Russian military forces in place to “protect Russian citizens,” Crimea can declare independence, federate with Russia, or do whatever it wants. Meanwhile, it will be very hard for the EU and the US to make any argument against Crimean self-determination that doesn’t reek of hypocrisy. While I don’t find the Kosovo analogy compelling, it provides Russia with a pretty big rhetorical stick. And as Obama put it in his statement yesterday:

Now, throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: the Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future.
Moscow might aim to turn Crimea into a permanent lever over Kiev, support its independence and de facto annexation, or for formal federation via future plebiscite. All three might easily reflect the fundamental principle that “the Crimean people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future.”
 
I can see the logic here, in terms of rhetoric at least, which is the focus of DN's remark. But there is of course a difference; while I'm not saying here how much weight it should carry (that would be too long a discussion for the moment), the difference is that Ukraine is a recognized state, Crimea isn't. How does that bear on the asserted right to self-determination, and does it weaken the "rhetorical stick"? A topic for another time, perhaps.

8 comments:

N Lees said...

Few states accept the principle that every ethnic group, every sub-state territory, has the right to self-determination. Uti possidetis juris is a much stronger international norm.

The issue of self-determination for sub-national groupings raises the issue of China's stance on this whole debacle. Although it is wary of Western encouragement of 'Colour Revolutions', it is deeply opposed to direct intervention in and dismemberment of existing nation states. The establishment of No-Fly Zones in Iraq after the Gulf War was regarded with horror in Beijing, apparently.

I think the current crisis is significant enough to have far-reaching consequences for the pattern of relationships between major powers.

LFC said...

Few states accept the principle that every ethnic group, every sub-state territory, has the right to self-determination. Uti possidetis juris is a much stronger international norm.

This is one of the points I was making, or trying to make, in the Crooked Timber thread on the stability of boundaries; see the post here titled "the debate about boundaries," below.

I'll be interested to read your thoughts on the poss. consequences of the current situation (at your blog, I presume? I haven't visited it for a while). Will try to get there soon.

Anonymous said...

I haven't updated my blog in a while because I have been so busy with teaching, and then I got out of the habit of it. But I'm going to be posting more frequently from now on.

I don't have too much to add beyond the existing analysis of the Ukrainian crisis apart from the following:

1) China's response, however muted and guarded, is very important for how the long-term consequences play out.

2) The crisis seems to me to be potentially disastrous for Russia as it may exclude it from the kind of deep cooperation and integration it needs to renovate its economy. It cannot rely on Soviet legacy tech forever. My understanding was that Kremlin policy-makers were of the view that a period of consolidation was necessary ahead of negotiated integration into the institutions of the 'greater West' from a position of strength. This undermines, perhaps topedoes, that possibility - which means that Russia may well have committed itself to an Eurasianist strategy. Slavophiles vs. Westernisers redux. Closer association with China is complicated by 1).

The above is dependent on whether the situation escalates or de-escalates from this point.

N Lees said...

The above post is from me - blogger is very annoying.

LFC said...

p.s. I see Sean Kay at Duck of Minerva is saying the U.S. should 'reach out' to China on this.

LFC said...

Previous comment was cross-posted with yours. Thanks for the thoughts -- interesting.

chaosandgovernance said...

This is probably bluster, but is still interesting:

“We have excellent trade and economic relations with our partners in the east and south and we will find a way to reduce to nothing our financial dependence on the United States but even get out of the sanctions with a big profit to ourselves.”

LFC said...

And one has to admit the record of ec. sanctions is mixed...