OPINION BY William R Collier Jr
The Russian Bear is aggresive, imperialistic, and totalitarian. It would seem that history has demonstrated that the Russian Civilization has only ever been animated by these anti-values, and today these “values” are on full display regarding the rape of Crimea.
Apologists for the rape of Crimea allege this or that historical tie to the strategic peninsula. While if indeed the Russian majority or the heirs of the native Tartar minority were being abused or if their aspirations for reunion with Russia or independence were genuine and ignored we would be sympathetic and we would be speaking of Ukrainian intolerance. But no such abuse by Ukrainian authorities has ever been cited or proven, and prior to the arrival of Russian troops (sans insignia), only 40% of the population had favored either independence of union with Russia.
To use what may be legitimate grievances or historical ties as cover for raw imperialistic ambition is an insult to such geniune grievances. It is not unreasonable for the Tatars and ethnic Russians in Crimea to forge a new nation, with the other ethnicities, that embodies their aspirations, but that is not the issue here: the real issue is and remains Russian imperialism.
In 1994 Russia, the US and the UK obliged themselves to protect Ukrainian sovereignty over ALL of its territory and all agreed as to what that territory included: and there was no talk of Russia’s historic ownership of Crimea or of the fact that Russian civilization actually started in and around Kiev, which is now Ukrainian and not Russian. Shall we now expect Russia to take Kiev?
Today Russia protests efforts to draw Ukraine into the EU and NATO. This is a legitimate concern in the realm of “realpolitik”, and indeed Europe and the US had agreed that NATO and the EU would not expand to Russia’s immediate neighbors, namely Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and nations in the Caucus. Nationalist Ukrainians, some who have particular disdain for ethnic Russians who are Ukrainian citizens, have wanted to upend that balance of power and move Ukraine into a camp that is hostile to Russia and that would sever long-standing historic ties.
That being true, however, the Russian rape of the Crimea is not justified by any of this, and indeed the legitimate grievances Russia might claim are being used as mere pretext for outright imperialism by an outright dictator.
The US and the UK made a fool’s bargain in 1994, but they asked the Ukrainian state to surrender its nuclear arsenal in exchange ofr “iron clad” guarantees of the agreed-upon borders of that state, borders which have now been breached by the insertion of armed men across those borders and by the installation of a Quisling regime in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital. The Ukrainian state has surrendered those weapons, they have even reduced their conventional military arsenal, and today those arms would have been proof against Russian aggression, but the US and the UK are not going to honor their foolishly made commitment.
The lesson of Crimea is not lost on the world.
When facing potential threats, no nation should ever surrender its arms, including nuclear, in exchange for “iron clad guarantees” from third parties. The Ukraine made a foolish bargain, the US and the UK did not mean what they said, and Russia has shown that she will use seemingly legitimate issues to give cover for her raw ambition. The real world of the laws of nations has been concealed by the Cold War and then America’s willingness to intervene and act as the world cop. With these two historical anomolies removed the world will march on as it has for thousands of years before these anomolies occured.
I do not propose that the US and the UK should go to war over Crimea. The Ukrainians have not, therefore they have no right to demand that others pick up the ball they dropped. But the issuance of such guarantees is a futile act, and the acceptance of such guarantees is even worse.
Russia will keep the Crimea, our moral outrage notwithstanding, but her neighbors had better decide to become armed, by any means necessary, because they can only count on themselves to fight back WHEN the Russian Bear comes calling.