Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More on Crimea

From a post at a new blog (found courtesy of Reddit):
Much like in 2008, Putin has fashioned the narrative underlying his expansionist maneuver into Crimea on the basis of ethnicity, rather than territory. The reason why China objected to South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence then, and is objecting to Crimean independence now, is...  because it sets the wrong kind of precedent. Rather than paving the way for a Chinese incursion into Taiwan, a territory to which China argues to have a historical claim, it underlines and legitimates the political cleavages between ethnicities. This runs directly counter to the CCP’s domestic policy, which has historically been to nip all claims to independence made by ethnic minorities (of which over 55 exist in China) firmly in the bud....
And speaking of Putin's claim to be protecting ethnic Russians from discrimination/oppression, Charles King's March 1 op-ed in the NYT ended with this:
...Mr. Putin’s reserving the right to protect the “Russian-speaking population” of Ukraine is an affront to the basis of international order. Not even the alleged ultranationalists who Mr. Putin claims now control the Ukrainian government have tried to export their uprising to Ukrainian speakers in Poland, Moldova, or Romania, or indeed Russia itself. It is Mr. Putin who has made ethnic nationalism a defining element of foreign policy.

Russia was in fact a pioneer of the idea that, in the jargon of international affairs, is now called R2P: the responsibility to protect. Under Czar Nicholas I, Russia asserted its right to guarantee the lives and fortunes of Orthodox Christians inside the territory of its chief strategic rival, the Ottoman Empire. In 1853 Russia launched a preemptive attack on the Ottomans, sending its fleet out of Sevastopol harbor to sink Ottoman ships across the Black Sea. Britain, France and other allies stepped in to respond to the unprovoked attack. The result was called the Crimean War, a conflict that, as every Russian schoolchild knows, Russia lost.

The future of Ukraine is now no longer about Kiev’s Independence Square, democracy in Ukraine or European integration. It is about how to preserve a vision of Europe — and, indeed, of the world — where countries give up the idea that people who speak a language we understand are the only ones worth protecting.
King's statement that Russia "pioneered" R2P by "guaranteeing the lives of Orthodox Christians" in the Ottoman Empire is extremely misleading. Whatever one thinks of R2P, one of its basic features is that it is not limited to the protection of those who share ethnicity, religion or language with the intervenors.

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