Sandra Heine Merchant asked about Crimea. This is an important but also a very sad issue.
My colleague, the political scientist, says she has resigned herself to the possibility that the Crimea will be annexed by Russia within two weeks under the pretext of “protecting” Russians.
All I see on the subject of the Crimea in Western media is the boring and idiotic discussion of “whose land this was initially.” As I always say on the subject of Israel, such conversations drive me up a wall. Which ethnic group “owns” land by right of original settlement is beyond irrelevant. None of us will ever figure out where we should go if we start reorganizing the world on this basis.
So let’s move away from this silliness and discuss what is really at stake. When Ukraine agreed to relinquish its nuclear arsenal, this was done on one enormously important condition. The condition is that if Ukraine agrees to live by the side of a huge nuclear power without any nuclear weapons of its own, the international community will guarantee that it will protect the sovereignty of Ukraine within its borders such as they were at the time of the signing of Budapest accords.
After the fall of the USSR, Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power in the world. Its nuclear arsenal was bigger than those of China, UK and France combined. And you know what Ukraine did with all those weapons? It send them to Russia. In 1994, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances guaranteed, in exchange, that Ukraine’s 1994 borders would be respected. The United States offered to uphold that guarantee.
Handing over your entire nuclear arsenal to the country that has always been and is now the greatest aggressor against your sovereignty is a pretty big sacrifice, don’t you think? And Ukraine made this sacrifice to ensure global peace and stability. If the guarantors of this deal did not think that the Crimea region legitimately belonged to Ukraine, they should have raised that issue before the country relinquished all means of defending itself from Russia. It is an absolute mockery of the very idea of international law and the diplomatic process to start now discussing that well, maybe the Crimea should not be Ukrainian after all.
It is absolutely appalling that a country should enter into diplomatic agreements in good faith, fulfill everything it took upon itself to do, and then be abandoned to its fate. This is unconscionable.