I’ve been reading a lot on what’s going on in the Ukraine. And I can’t endorse Putin’s move – it was a blatant act of aggression that further destabilized the region. Pundits have spent a lot of time analyzing the military implications (will the benefits to the Black Sea Fleet outweigh the fact that this act of provocation will encourage the west to go forward with the missile shield?), the economic consequences (how much will this hurt the Russian economy, especially if there are sanctions?) the political implications in Russia, the Ukraine, as well as the rest of Europe and the US (which parties will it help or hurt in future elections?) etc.
But one thing I haven’t seen discussed much is whether it makes more sense for Crimea to be part of Russia than the Ukraine. That is, the manner in which Putin acted in occupying Crimea aside, where does Crimea fit?
I’m struggling to understand why Crimea was part of the Ukraine in the first place, aside from historical reasons. The population speaks Russian rather than Ukrainian. They identify with Russia and want closer ties to Russia, as opposed to the rest of the Ukraine which prefers distance from Moscow. Granted, this may be because back in the ’40s Russia relocated all the Tartars and a bunch of other Crimeans, thus diluting the national affiliation with the Ukraine. But be that as it may right now it seems like Crimea might prefer to be Russian. If it were possible to hold free and fair elections (which can’t happen when Crimea is occupied by Russian troops), I wonder which country the Crimeans would vote to be part of (or would they prefer independence). And if they wanted to be Russian, would the US be in the right to stop them from being so, just because Putin forced the issue?