Crimea has voted to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation; 96.8% of Crimean residents voted in favour of this action.
Putin has defended this as an act of national self determination whilst the rest of the world has condemned the referendum as illegal, illegitimate and inexcusable. Putin’s defence of the democratic will of the people is questionable- in May 2012 the rest of the world had major concerns over credible evidence that he had been active or complicit in fraudulent electoral behaviour.
Crimea has a historic link to Russia; it had been a part of Russia prior to the nationalist revolutions throughout the 19th and 20th Century which tore Eastern Europe apart, yet the occupants still maintained Russian cultural and ethnic identity. Putin’s claim that Crimea had ‘always been a part of Russia’ does have some foundation in this, ignoring the boycotting of the perceived illegal referendum by Tatars. This ethnic group received vile and sickening treatment at the hands of the Soviet Regime, and understandably do not want to walk back to a regime displaying despotic elements (look no further than the atrocious LGBT restrictions, fraudulent elections, unjust legal system and now imperialist ventures). By boycotting the referendum they have sealed the fate of Crimea in rejoining Russia; silence is acquiescence in these matters, no matter how disagreeable and unjust the elections seem to be.
…alluding to the illegal Iraq invasion which violated the international laws he has now broken…
The inclusion of Crimea into the Russian Federation (which sounds so much nicer than Russian Empire) is a pertinent example of the ‘chickens coming home to roost’ in regards to American exceptionalism and western intervention in the 21st Century. When the west gallivants around the Middle East, trampling on the national sovereignty of multiple states, is it truly surprising that Putin would make similar gestures? Putin’s actions are reprehensible; the theft of Crimea is a stepping stone to future aggression. The Russian leader has made comments celebrating the west’s late recognition of international law- alluding to the illegal Iraq invasion which violated the international laws he has now broken. The invasion of Iraq, despite delivering a crippling blow to a deplorable dictator, was illegal- and now we are not happy that Russia is using this against us. Whilst the west have been relatively united in terms of condemnation and action against Putin (and rightly steadfast in their opposition to military intervention), Putin has still won. He has expanded his empire in the face of arrogant, audacious and hypocritical opposition from the west.
Thankfully, he has said he will not move on to take any more of Ukraine- history tells us that Hitler said something similar about the Sudetenland- but is it not too late? The freezing of assets is a laudable and commendable act, yet with the world has an insatiable desire for oil, coal, and gas, as well as a profound opposition to the return of the nuclear threat of Mutually Assured Destruction looming over our heads, meaning that Putin’s personality cult promulgating his image of strength, patriotism and courage has been expanded to mammoth proportions.