Nobody “Lost” Crimea. It Was Never Ours To Lose.

President Trump recently blamed former President Obama for "losing" Crimea. It was never ours to lose.

Last week, during his nearly two-hour rant of a press conference, President Trump put forward the accusation that President Obama “lost” Crimea by allowing the Russians to invade, and annex, the peninsula in 2014 shortly after the Sochi Olympics:

 U.S. President Donald Trump blamed the “regime” of former President Barack Obama for Ukraine’s loss of its Crimean Peninsula, which was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014.

Trump made the comments during a wide-ranging and sometimes hostile news conference at the White House on November 7 to comment on the U.S. midterm election results.

When asked about his relations with Russia, Trump reminded reporters of the face-to-face meeting he had with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July.

“The fact is I had a very, very good meeting with President Putin,” he said. “A lot was discussed — about Syria, about security, about Ukraine.”

“About the fact that President Obama allowed a very large part of Ukraine to be taken [by Russia],” he added.

When a reporter stated that “it was President Putin who annexed Crimea,” Trump responded by saying, “That was President Obama’s regime. That was during President Obama. Right?

“It was President Obama that allowed it to happen,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has accused his predecessor of “losing” Crimea and not sufficiently standing up to the Russian President when he swept in and annexed the territory. Last year, for example, Trump blamed Obama for letting Russia ‘get away’ with annexing the peninsula. A week later, he made a similar accusation, saying that Obama let Putin get away with the land grab because Putin ‘didn’t respect’ Obama, and asserting that he would be much better at dealing with a world leader like Putin because Putin would respect him in a way he didn’t his predecessor. The reality of that ‘respect’ was, of course, on full display roughly a year later when Trump met with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki, Finland and engaged in one of the most embarrassing displays of obsequiousness that an American President has ever demonstrated on the world stage.

Leaving that issue aside, though, there is, as Daniel Larison notes, something fundamentally flawed with the very question of who “lost” Crimea:

Most reports on Trump’s remarks have focused on his choice to blame Obama for the annexation, but that is not nearly as important as the implication of Trump’s statement that he seems to think it is up to the American president to “allow” or “disallow” the actions of other major nuclear-armed powers. Saying that Obama “allowed” the annexation of Crimea presupposes that there was something that Obama could or should have done to prevent or reverse it. Short of starting a shooting war with Russia and presumably causing WWIII, there was nothing Obama could have done, and it is a measure of Trump’s ignorance and his belligerent instincts that he thinks otherwise. Whether Russia controls Crimea or not is hardly a vital interest of the U.S., and it certainly isn’t worth risking a war. If Trump believes otherwise, he is even more reckless and irresponsible than we thought.

(…)

Obama didn’t “lose” Crimea, and it was never the responsibility of the U.S. government to stop what Russia did. Russia’s action was aggressive and illegal, but the U.S. was under no obligation to risk a war with a nuclear-armed state to undo it. The fact that Trump keeps harping about the “loss” of a part of a country that isn’t even allied to the U.S. shows just how far removed he is from a genuine America First foreign policy.’

In the immediate aftermath of the Russian seizure of Crimea, some of President Obama’s critics alleged that the United States and other nations had breached its security obligations to Ukraine, pointing to an agreement reached shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in support of their argument. As James Joyner pointed out at the time, though, that agreement did not obligate the United States to come to Ukraine’s defense in all situations and certainly didn’t require the United States to go to war against Russia over the seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. In reality, that agreement referred to as The Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances of 1994, the signatories, which included the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom related solely to the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the only obligation that the agreement imposed on any of the signatories was to seek the assistance of the United Nations Security Council should Ukraine become the victim of an act of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used. The United States was under no obligation to do anything with respect to the events in Ukraine in the winter of 2014 under the terms of these security assurances. Nonetheless, as we know, the Obama Administration and its European allies responded to the Russian seizure of the Crimean Peninsula and the subsequent evidence of Russian involvement in the pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine by imposing sanctions against Russia generally and specific Russians close to Vladimir Putin, something that goes beyond its obligations under the 1994 security assurances.

Leaving aside the fact that we had no obligation under any international agreement to defend or assist Ukraine in any manner, Larison is absolutely correct when it points out that it was “never the responsibility of the U.S. government to stop what Russia did.” Looking at this strictly from the point of view of realpolitik, there’s a good argument to be made that Ukraine generally, and the fate of Crimea specifically, should not be seen as being within our sphere of concern or influence. As I’ve stated before Ukraine has historic and other ties to Russia and Russian history that should not be ignored. It has been an independent nation for a short period of time and, given its location, has been seen as within the Russian sphere of influence for centuries. It’s also worth noting that the Crimean peninsula itself had been considered Russian territory since at least the Russo-Turkish War and the region remained a part of Russia until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. Before that change in status and long afterward, the peninsula was home to a large base for the Soviet Navy, and that base remained in operation and under control of the Russian Navy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In other words, Russia arguably had as much of a claim on Crimea as Ukraine did, and we, whether that “we” is the United States, NATO, or the Western world in general, had no legitimate interest in the territory.

Finally, there is the reality that there is very little that the United States or NATO could have, or should have, done to prevent the seizure of Crimea. Regardless of what anyone might say, the United States was never going to go to war over Ukraine. Vladimir Putin knew that, and that’s one of the reasons he felt free to take the action that he did. Additionally, even if we had wanted to stop Russia from seizing Ukraine, it’s apparent that any such effort would have been both unsuccessful and needlessly confrontation. In other words, we didn’t lose Crimea because it was never ours to being with. For that reason alone, Trump’s argument was utterly ridiculous.

 

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Europe, Military Affairs, National Security, Politicians, Russia, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump has to distract from his embarrassing North Korean failure. And his embarrassing midterm failure. And the chaos in his incompetent administration. So as usual he deflects, accusing everyone else of his own failures and #Cult45 nods along.

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  2. Kathy says:

    Even if Russia lacked nuclear weapons, I’d be wary of having a war with them. For one thing, they can easily counter any US move by going after smaller NATO members like the Baltic countries.

    History bit: many histories of Russia begin with the Kievan Rus, a confederation that arose in what is now Ukraine in the 9th Century. Ukraine, Russia and Belarus all claim them as ancestors.

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  3. @Michael Reynolds:

    The truly bizarre thing is that Trump said in this in response to a question about Michelle Obama saying in her book that she could not forgive him for spreading the birther lie.

  4. @Kathy:

    Since my family comes from Eastern Europe (although not Ukraine or Russia), I’m aware of the history. I’ve written about some of it in my recent posts about the split developing in the Orthodox Church over the decision to give the Ukrainians control over their own Orthodox Church rather than putting it under the rubric of the Patriarch in Moscow.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: What frosts the shorts off Russia is that the foundation of the (Russian) Orthodox church actually started in the Ukraine.

    Rather embarrassing for a Russian government which is trying to prop up its authority by using the Russian Orthodox church.

    Oops.

  6. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’ve written about some of it in my recent posts about the split developing in the Orthodox Church over the decision to give the Ukrainians control over their own Orthodox Church rather than putting it under the rubric of the Patriarch in Moscow.

    Has Rod Dreher deemed you an apostate yet?

    I’m gonna declare my own private Benedict Option and watch a Sherlock Holmes marathon – Cumberbatch is really good, but Martin Freeman is superb!

    My Own Private Idaho – B52s live with a very de stijl backdrop. Piet Mondrian would either be very proud or really bummed out that it ended up like this. I lean towards very proud, myself.
    https://youtu.be/n7t7cGwN7_0

  7. de stijl says:

    Yeah, defending Crimea and getting into a shooting war with Russia would have just worked out super-duper!

    For Obama. For the US. For the whole goddamned world!

    There are red line and there are pink lines. It pays to know the difference.

    It’s November – We’re heading into a cold winter. But come late March early April, the earth will wake up and photosynthesis will happen again. Can you imagine a decade of no plants, no animals, no sun? And that’s assuming you survived the full nuclear exchange.

    Given Trump’s remarks, the ruling governing body on this planet would be the supervisor of the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, if she survived.

  8. Robert C says:

    This is one where US foreign policy – both Ds and Rs – is idiotic. Once pro-Western forces (some would say pro – Nazi as well) took power in Kiev, Russian annexation of the Crimea was as predictable as the sun rise. The lost of Sevastopol would be an existential threat to Russia.
    Image if China cultivated a pro-Chinese government in Mexico and then Mexico offered China a port in Baja California.

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  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The truly bizarre thing is that Trump said in this in response to a question about Michelle Obama saying in her book that she could not forgive him for spreading the birther lie.

    Hey, you can’t stop Trump when he is on a roll. I fully expect him to break out in THIS when he looses 2020:

    Mitch McConnell: “Election’s over, man. Dems dropped the big one. Now they have the House, Senate AND the Presidency. And it’s all your fault.

    Trump: What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!…

    It ain’t over now, ’cause when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’. Who’s with me? Let’s go! Come on!…(He ran to the White House front door but no one followed him)

    Trump (returning): What the f–k happened to the Nationalist GOP that I created? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. ‘Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you and tear up the Constitution, Trump, we might get in trouble.’ (shouting) Well, just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this.
    Beto, he’s a dead man! Clinton, dead! Dems…

    Mike Pence: Dead! Trump’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take our country back! Now, we could fight ’em with conventional weapons, and would be easy since we passed the “Arm ’em at birth” bill in 2019…. But that could take years and cost millions of lives.

    No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture by the GOP to tear up that piece of paper and blame it on somebody elses’s part.

    We’re just the party to do it…LET’S DO IT!

  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Since my family comes from Eastern Europe…”

    With a name like that, Lithuanian?

  11. Gustopher says:

    Saying that Obama let Putin get away with a land grab in Crimea does two things:

    1) Blames Obama

    2) Says that this is over and we should accept it and move on — i.e., there’s no point in those sanctions now.

    He is saying that Obama is to blame for letting Putin seize the Crimea because he wants to let Putin keep Crimea.

  12. de stijl says:

    @Robert C:

    You are either a Russian troll, or a foolish person who has bought into Russian dis-information.

    The lost of Sevastopol would be an existential threat to Russia.

    Sevastopol was a Ukrainian city! It was not “lost” to the Russians. It hadn’t been “theirs” (the Russians) since separation.

    In the recent past Sevastopol was “lost” to Ukraine because Russia invaded.

    You’re offering a beaten spouse defense here:

    Image if China cultivated a pro-Chinese government in Mexico and then Mexico offered China a port in Baja California.

    How, exactly, was Russia legitimately provoked by Ukraine? That they had a port that Russia coveted? Whilst simultaneously not having a government that grovelled at Putin’s feet? Is that the impetus?

    BTW, Paul Manafort is going to federal prison for undisclosed illegal payments from Russian-backed and Russian-funded Ukrainians. Paul Manafort was Donald Trumps campaign manager. What an odd coincidence!

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  13. de stijl says:

    The reason that Sevastopol was “lost” is that Russia wanted it and took it.

    The annexation of eastern Ukraine and the Crimea is because Russia invaded by force because they could.

  14. de stijl says:

    Hold on!

    Trump is pissed at Obama because he didn’t get into a shooting war with Russia over Crimea?

    Really?

    Being really pissed, and pretending to be pissed because it suits your purposes are different things. Saying that not defending Crimea / Eastern Ukraine against the Russian invasion is the reason you’re not to blame for being a birther son of a bitch is just too fvcking rich for my blood.

  15. de stijl says:

    Awesome song, great vid!

    Rock Lobster – the B52s
    https://youtu.be/ofkzvM7Skxg

  16. de stijl says:

    Rock Lobster was perhaps the oddest song / rave-up to ever hit the top 40. I heartily approve.

  17. Robert C says:

    @de stijl:
    Nope, not a troll. Not even a fan of Russia which I consider a white, xenophobic, nationalist, authoritarian state, which BTW is why Putin it appeals to the Alt Right.
    Back to the topic at hand. Sevastopol has been an absolute key to Russian navel power for several hundred years. It had historically, for right or wrong, been Russia’s prime warm water port. That they would let it fall to a potential NATO country is laughable. It’s loss would be an existential threat to Russia. Period.

    BTW, you were quick with the ad hominem attack.

  18. de stijl says:

    Was Crimea / Sevastapol Russia’s property?

    It seems like you’re arguing that Russia was triggered:

    Once pro-Western forces (some would say pro – Nazi as well) took power in Kiev…

  19. de stijl says:

    @Robert C:

    Perhaps I misread you.

    The lost of Sevastopol would be an existential threat to Russia.

    This thing that you just said, do you believe that this is still true? Because until 2014 Sevastopol was not a Russian city nor was Crimea.

  20. de stijl says:

    @Robert C:

    Again, perhaps I misread your initial comment that looks like you’re okay with Russian invading and annexing Crimea because they were provoked by the fact that Sevastopol was in Ukraine.

  21. PJ says:

    @de stijl:

    This thing that you just said, do you believe that this is still true? Because until 2014 Sevastopol was not a Russian city nor was Crimea.

    And Crimea Oblast, and thus also Sevastopol, was a not a part of Ukraine SSR until April 26, 1954.

  22. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    Was Sevastopol Russia’s to take? That is the fucking issue!

    While true, your information is utterly useless in answering that. In 2014 , Crimea belonged to Ukraine!

  23. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    I sorta recall when the Soviet Union dissolved because I saw it.

    Russia invaded and annexed Crimea after that time, yes? And Crimea was part of Ukraine at the time, yes?

    Since 1993 (or arguably 1997) Sevastopol and the whole of Crimea was fully, legally Ukrainian. Russia had zero legitimate territorial claims.

  24. PJ says:

    @de stijl:

    Was Sevastopol Russia’s to take? That is the fucking issue!

    Was it legal to transfer the oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?

  25. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    Was it legal to transfer the oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?

    WTF? Seriously.

    What does that have to do with Russia’s actions in 2014 when they invaded and annexed part of Ukraine?

  26. Stormy Dragon says:

    Written 30 years ago, yet surprisingly relevant to the Crimea situation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxbFk4viTSQ

  27. de stijl says:

    It’s fascinating to watch paid troll behavior evolve in real time.

    There is no legitimate response to the questions I asked about the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, so we get:

    Was it legal to transfer the oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything? Why would anyone bring up that true, but useless ephemera?

    It is entirely possible I misread Robert C and he was just describing Russia’s actions and not implicitly endorsing them. I await the proper correction, and I will apologize if that is true.

  28. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I’d no idea of this development. 1954 was early in Khrushchev’s reign. He made a big deal about denouncing Stalin, and rehabilitating many of his victims (once Stalin was safely dead, of course).

    Ukraine suffered a great deal under Stalin. Though it has high agricultural production, there was famine there during the 30s, if memory serves. During WWII, many Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis and defected to their side (the more fools they, as they were tools at best for the Nazis).

    So one can see Khrushchev doing something “nice” for Ukraine, perhaps.

    The USSR broke up rather suddenly. I don’t recall whether the various constituent Republics left without negotiations with Moscow or not. The time to hold on to Crimea or Sevastopol was then. If not, then too bad. Putin could always have negotiated a deal to base his navy there.

  29. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    Russians had to resort to genocide to steal Crimea from the Circassians. They kinda of owns it.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Why would anyone bring that up? No American would.

  31. PJ says:

    @de stijl:
    I’m behaving like a paid troll? Who is paying me? Soros? Putin? Trump? And why haven’t I gotten any money yet?

    You argued that until 2014 it wasn’t Russian. It was conquered by the Russian Empire in 1783, and was, except for a couple of years, part of that empire until 1917, and then from 1921 until 1954 it was a part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. And then for some, still unknown, reason Khrushchev decided to transfer Crimea to the Ukraine Oblast in 1954, which really didn’t mean very much until 1991.

    And @Kathy is right, the issue of Crimea really should have been dealt with back in 1991, 1993, or 1997 if Russia had wanted to get it back. But then Yeltsin wasn’t Putin, and Russia was moving towards the west and democracy, so it wasn’t as strategically important back then.

  32. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    I see you are very assiduously avoiding the question.

    Was it right, proper, correct, and legal that Russia invaded, occupied, and annexed Crimea?

    Not in 1783 or 1917 or 1921, etc. But in 2014.

    And, yes, it looks like you are behaving like a paid Russian troll inventing desperate reasons why the invasion and annexation of Crimea is somehow okay.

  33. de stijl says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    In 2014, Russia did not “own” Crimea. Ukraine did.

    BTW, has anything happened yet post election, or will nothing really change until Bolsonaro assumes the presidency?

  34. de stijl says:

    Why and how did “*the* Ukraine” become part of English usage? I have to fight my initial instinct every time to write “Ukraine” and not “the Ukraine”.

    Nobody ever said *the* Ireland or *the* Somalia.

    Interesting contemporaneous backgrounder on *the* Ukraine usage and how that became a thing:
    http://time.com/12597/the-ukraine-or-ukraine/

  35. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    You bit on the true, but useless ephemera. While historically interesting – it has nothing to do with Russia’s 2014 actions.

  36. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: Well, in the world as it probably ought to be — Russia had no claim to Crimea and their military control there is a crime. Sure. OK.

    On the other hand, the realpolitik hand, in the world we actually inhabit, it was obvious that Russia would never give up their historic and strategic Black Sea Fleet. Never, never, never. No one expecting any other reaction from Russia than we got should be trusted with issues of peace and war and such. Of COURSE they were going to control Crimea one way or another. Don’t have to be a Russophile to see that.

  37. JohnMcC says:

    Oh jeepers! Did I get to the end of the comments thread and not see any reference to ‘who lost China?’ That was the voice of the McCarthy-types back in the early ’50s when the ‘Nationalists’ under Chang Kai Chek had retreated from China to Taiwan and Mao was obviously victorious in the post WW2 struggle for China. The Republican ‘base’ at the time had a long history of Missionary activity (has anyone contributed to a Lottie Moon offering?) that predisposed them to the ‘Chinese’ cause and against the “Red Chinese”.

    So Nixon and McCarthy and similar slime used ‘Who lost China’ against the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and against the State Dep’t in particular. I could go on and on. The gist is Trump is playing an old, old tune.

  38. de stijl says:

    @JohnMcC:

    So, I mischaracterized what you said. You were describing, not proselytizing.

    I’m sorry. I apologize.

  39. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    A good question is how far back do “historical claims” to territory can legitimately go?

    It would be patently absurd for Italy to make territorial claims to all of Europe West of the Rhine, plus the Balkans, Greece, swaths of North Africa, huge chunks of the Middle East, and the whole of Turkey, on the grounds that the Roman Empire ruled over all of that in the Second Century CE.

    I had hoped the EU would lead the way in removing borders and boundaries as truly inconsequential. I’m ready to concede defeat on that front.

  40. PJ says:

    @de stijl:

    I see you are very assiduously avoiding the question.

    Was it right, proper, correct, and legal that Russia invaded, occupied, and annexed Crimea?

    Not in 1783 or 1917 or 1921, etc. But in 2014.

    And, yes, it looks like you are behaving like a paid Russian troll inventing desperate reasons why the invasion and annexation of Crimea is somehow okay.

    I have never said that it was legal or right for them to annex Crimea. Might is not right. Might does mean that you get away with things that others don’t though, that’s true for Russia in this case, and it’s true for the US in other cases.

    Pointing out that Crimea has been a part of Ukraine for, in reality, only 23 years (1991 to 2014) since 1783, does not make me a Russian troll. A lot of people are unaware of the history, so I like to point it out.

    I’ve been commenting here for years, considering that this is the first time I’ve been called a paid Russian troll I’m just going to assume you had a bad day and I won’t comment further on that personal attack.

  41. de stijl says:

    @PJ:

    Pointing out that Crimea has been a part of Ukraine for, in reality, only 23 years (1991 to 2014) since 1783, does not make me a Russian troll. A lot of people are unaware of the history, so I like to point it out.

    I’ve been commenting here for years, considering that this is the first time I’ve been called a paid Russian troll I’m just going to assume you had a bad day and I won’t comment further on that personal attack.

    I apologize for getting you wrong, but I wasn’t just having a bad day.

    You really need to realize that what you said looks like an excuse that absolves Russian of a war crime.

    In response to this:

    Because until 2014 Sevastopol was not a Russian city nor was Crimea.

    You said

    Was it legal to transfer the oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?

    I’ll be really blunt – that looks like, feels like, walks like, and quacks like a Russian trollbot comment.

    It does not look like you’re offering up interesting history background.
    There is no way to couch this – what you said looked dodgey as fuck.

    It looked like a Russian troll using ephemera to excuse their war crime in 2014, and frankly it still does.

    If this is not your intent, you seriously need to figure out things like tone and context.

    When I say

    Was Sevastopol Russia’s to take? That is the fucking issue!

    and your reply is

    Was it legal to transfer the oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?

    then you absolutely look like a paid Russian troll excusing the annexation of Crimea and if you don’t understand that then that is all on you.

    I’ve gone way out of my way accommodating you.

    Dude, you look like a troll. If you are not a Russian-paid troll, you need to re-examine your behavior because you really look like a Russian troll.

    Pointing out that Crimea has been a part of Ukraine for, in reality, only 23 years (1991 to 2014) since 1783, does not make me a Russian troll. A lot of people are unaware of the history, so I like to point it out.

    I will accept that you are not what you look like.

    Will you accept that you look like and feel like a very creepy Russian troll that drops ephemera to excuse the war crime of Russia’s illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea?

    If so, say “yes”.

  42. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Free feeback

    I have never said that it was legal or right for them to annex Crimea. Might is not right. Might does mean that you get away with things that others don’t though, that’s true for Russia in this case, and it’s true for the US in other cases.

    Pointing out that Crimea has been a part of Ukraine for, in reality, only 23 years (1991 to 2014) since 1783, does not make me a Russian troll. A lot of people are unaware of the history, so I like to point it out.

    You never actually answer the question here. You come reeeally close, but you dance around definitively answering it. By your words, I cannot tell whether you think that Ukraine was the victim or the aggressor which is the whole damn point.

  43. de stijl says:

    I’m not looking for subtlety or nuance here,

    Was Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea legal or not?

    The two acceptable responses are literally “legal” or “not legal”

    Pick one.

  44. Just nutha says:

    @de stijl: When I was in school back in the age of the dinosaurs (i.e. the 1950s and 60s) we called the region “the Ukraine” in our geography and Social Studies classes. I would have to guess that it was because it was a subdivision in a larger entity much like “the South,” “the Heartland,” or “the PNW.” The idea that this was part of some Soviet plot to deny people statehood and identity was lost on me as I was a mere child.

    Considering that the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 and how little time that is in glacial terms, I’m willing to give people the benefit of some doubt on how to properly name the entity, given that old habits die hard, while understanding the pique and frustration of Ukrainians (but not the Ukrainians because I don’t know what %age feels pique and frustration). YMMV.

  45. dazedandconfused says:

    @Just nutha:

    Those who think the Ukraine is socially homogenized don’t know much about it. The eastern part are Russian speakers and the westerners speak Ukrainian, which is very close to Polish. They are culturally different, so different the western part fought with Hitler against the USSR in WW2. The western end is the industrial sector, and has been Russian before Moscow was. It can be said the true heart of Russia is Kiev. The western part was part of the Hapsburg Empire, it became part of Russia quite recently, in historical terms.

    The legal arguments, whatever their validity, totally ignore that Crimea is largely settled by Russian ex-pats and for the most part was very glad Putin moved from saving them from becoming part of the Ukraine, the new regime even wanted to ban the Russian language from all parts of their new independent nation. The color revolution we strongly supported was nearly all Ukrainian speakers in the west.

    IMO when Hillary tasked the Kagans to get the Ukraine out of the Soviet sphere by fomenting revolution she declared war on Russia. How else could the Russians view it? Left alone it would have cut them off from their one warm water port, which would be on a par with separating the US from the Pacific. How would we respond? Same way. Leaving it just happen would also have doomed a lot of very patriotic Russians to Ukrainian citizenship, at least until they quit speaking their native tongue.

  46. de stijl says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    IMO when Hillary tasked the Kagans to get the Ukraine out of the Soviet sphere by fomenting revolution she declared war on Russia.

    We have *very* differing views on foreign policy and ethics.