For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a European country has sent troops into another country to support and enable secessionist sentiments. What tools and steps are available to stop the assault on an independent European country, and avoid setting a precedent for future cases?

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  1. Klaus Segbers 4 years ago

    1 There is no legitimation or even excuse for the Russian military intervention on Crimea.

    2 Rights of the Russian speaking population on Crimea (or elsewhere) were not violated, and certainly not in any systemic way.

    3 The decision of the new temporary Ukrainian leadership to change the status of the Russian language in Ukraine was not clever politics.

    4 The status of the Russian fleet in Sevastopol was not endangered.

    5 The indirect and direct quite explicit hints that the new Ukrainian leadership and the people living in Western Ukraine are fascists and Nazis stretches any informed historical analogy beyond anything worth talking about.

    6 From a political perspective, there are crucial things we do not know enough about.

    7 To what degree is the Russian president “living in another world”? What is relevant here is if he reacts properly to external signals.

    8 Western countries now have to be prepared to initiate sanctions of the second and third levels under certain conditions.

    9 Western governments have to continue working with China’s leadership on China’s role toward Russia.

    10 The Turkish government and media have to been talked into looking into the situation of the Crimean Tatars. Turkish influence can be relevant here.

    11 Even with around 70% of the Russian population supporting Putin’s course re. Crimea as of now, 30% do not, or do not know. It would be a grave mistake to ignore these skeptical sentiments in the Russian society.

    12 It would also be fatal if Western governments gave up on some kind of double strategy.

    Read the full article here.

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  2. Theodoros Tsakiris 4 years ago

    Unfortunately the precedent was set by the NATO bombardment of Kosovo in 1999 and the subsequent recognition of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. Putin’s Russia is taking it to another level of course but it is NATO which established this perilous principle. It is unfortunate that Putin seems to have decided to accelerate the full incorporation of the Crimean Peninsular as the 90th republic of the Russian Federation.

    It does not offer Russia any tangible benefits. The full annexation of Crimea after 2-3 years will only increasingly isolate Russia from its EU allies who have reacted with measures that can only be characterized as symbolic to its actions in the Peninsular and is making efforts to reestablish diplomatic relations between Moscow and Kiev exceedingly difficult.

    Since European energy/economic interdependence with Russia is too precious to break, there are only limited means of European reaction that are confined to the diplomatic level.

    What is more important here is to be made clear that Europe would not condone any further Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine by making sure that it would cease all technology transfers to Russia and terminate all military cooperation. France has already threatened to do that with the two Mistral-type ships it is building for the Russian navy. Derogations will of course have to be given to Greece and Cyprus which are the only EU states dependent on Russian arms.

    The EU also needs to make sure that the Ukrainian government restrains all ultra-nationalist militia so that no new Euro-Maidan type protests take place in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the Ukraine. Unless the EU is able to do this it would never regain its legitimacy over these territories and the Presidential elections of May 25th may not take place in almost 1/4 or 1/3 of Ukraine. This would open a new Pandora’s box…

    Unless these extremist elements are not isolated from any future Ukrainian government and effectively contained from the Fatherland Party and Mr Klitchko, Russian fears will not be assuaged and Mr Putin will be provided with the opportunity – since he already has the motive – to extend his intervention in the Donbas region and other areas of Ukraine.

    Such an extension would – in all probability – be militarily resisted by Kiev and no one should let things reach that point.

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  3. Dorothea Schäfer 4 years ago

    The key to serious negotiations is that Ukrainian people get a legitimate president and government. That means the interim government needs to organize elections. Otherwise no negotiations between the two countries Russia and Ukraine will occur and things will stay as they are right now, with the possibility to become even worse.

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  4. Andrey Makarychev 4 years ago

    Since the Crimea crisis is of structural nature, the response to it from the West has to be comprehensive. In the long term, in order to contain Russia the West needs a strategy of political consolidation. Sanctions and travel bans won’t give due effects and can provoke symmetrical responses from Moscow. Much more consequential can be actions in those policy domains where Moscow wouldn’t be able to reciprocate symmetrically. Thus, the major Western countries and institutions may certainly think more creatively about making better offers to countries who are of primary importance for Russia’s strategy. NATO Membership Action Plans for Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the inclusion of Kazakhstan in a new version of Eastern Partnership can be considered. Sending friendlier signals to Minsk might also be part of EU’s strategy. Perhaps some kind of coordinating – though informal – mechanism with China on policies towards Russia might be launched. And Turkey remains an important actor able to seriously limit the operational plans of Russia as far as the Black Sea is concerned. Apparently, mobilizing resources of wealthy Russian, Armenian and other diasporas who see their mother countries in a European context can also be an option.

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  5. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou 4 years ago

    The Crimea case needs to be assessed in context. It is not the case of any European state violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a neighbouring country; Russia did so and managed to get away with it as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a nuclear superpower to boot. By the same token, it got away with an incursion into Georgia in August 2008 to solidify its hold on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Transnitrian and Nagorno Karabakh cases either involve Russia directly or via its proxies.

    This in turn implies that its actions are the exception that violates the rule. Another anomaly in Europe is the continued illegal Turkish occupation of a third of Cyprus since 1974. In Turkey’s case, the Cold War context enabled it to maintain its presence on the island until this day while there are ongoing efforts to untangle it with negotiations over the optimal constitutional structure on the island. The Kosovo context is also worth mentioning as well as it emerged from the particular circumstances of the disintegration of Yugoslavia but even in this case the European aspirations of both Serbia and Kosovo imply a slow but gradual progress towards its resolution.

    The reaction to Russia’s adventurism is where the focus should be as the international community has strengthened its resolve to avoid the Crimea precedent either via its enhanced support for Ukraine or through its use of the targeted sanctions mechanisms.

    The European Union – which is perceived as the polar opposite of Russia in this case – has to up its game and mobilize support for a consensual policy within its ranks towards dangling the carrot of eventual membership to interested countries of its Eastern neighbourhood. This is where it has failed to date as its policies toward the East, including its flagship Eastern Partnership, have only had the half-hearted support of many of its stakeholders. Deterrence will not come about through military means but through a united normative front which will make any further Russian adventurism difficult while it touches upon the aspirations of the civil societies of its neighbours and an increasing number of its citizens.

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3 Comments

  1. Droit au but 4 years ago

    I agree with everything Prof. Segbers says. With one addition. Of course, you can´t say that the new government in Ukraine are fascists. But there are definetely neo-fascist actors involved. And the fact that Western powers didn´t pubicly condemn them (or tacitly supported them) provided grist to the mills for the Russian propaganda. Huge mistake.

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  2. Elena 4 years ago

    No matter whether referendum in Crimea is considered illegitmate or not, there is definetly no way back and the West has to accept the fact that the peninsula is a part of Russia now (not de jure, of course). It doesn’t make sense to escalate the situaiton with military threat unless the West is really ready to take such actions, as threats without actions look like helplessness. So the aim now is to protect the rest of Ukraine from separatism and invasion. One of the main things to do is to avoid any provocations of the ethnic Russians in the Eastern Ukraine that can serve as pretext for actions of Putin’s regime. As Theodoros Tsakiris and Dorothea Schäfer have said Ukraine should elect legimate government asap and make sure that ultra-nationalist elements don’t make it there.

    I disagree with Andrey Makarychev that engaging Russian neighbours and partners in NATO negotiations will do any good. In my view, such actions with the help of state propaganda would only contribute to the nationalistic anti-Western mood in Russian society, provide pupular support for the current regime and any of it actions against those neighbour states even before NATO is there. The reaction to Russia’s actions should be purely economic, this is the only way to make Russians rethink the actions of Putin and his government. As long as the regime is supported by majority of people, all Western sanctions would not make any sense and the Ukrainian situation can be played all over again.

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  3. evowell 4 years ago

    I believe Mr. Putin has miscalculated. His decision was rash. This may
    be the beginning of the end of his tenure. He is learning some
    unforgiving lessons in capitalism. Stock market and currency
    fluctuations are just the beginning. Russian Banks will not be able to
    develop an independent Re-Insurance Industry. This industry is a
    highly informed global network. The Re-Insurance companies have long
    institutional memories and will exact a price. Wait until the LNG starts arriving
    in bulk- and it will, there is a monster plant in Algeria being updated.
    The US is already building a few. Additionally, Iraq has quietly
    become the number two crude oil producer. As sanctions on Iran are
    lifted it may pursue a production plan at odds with OPEC quotas in
    order to earn hard currency. This will cause Russian hard currency
    flow to slow and internal pressures on inflation (food) will build.
    Putin may have to deal with internal dissent among large segments of
    the population. As the oligarchs continue to lose money they may
    decide it is time new leadership in order to stay out ahead of public
    sentiment.

    Finally, a former KGB Colonel is not a military field commander. Many NATO forces have spent the last 12 years in combat. Hopefully the Russian military leadership will provide realistic strategic advice. Fortunately, the consensus by OSCE members on a Ukrainian Mission may provide time for Mr. Putin to reflect on the long term consequences.

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