“Reason must be the universal rule and guide; all things must be done according to reason without allowing oneself to be swayed by emotion.”
– Cardinal Richelieu
It’s important to review some history in a calm, rational, and methodical way when thinking about Russia, Crimea, and other neighbouring countries in the region.
A controversial question nowadays is which country should Crimea belong to? Should it be part of Greece, Khazaria, Mongolia, the Venetians, or the Golden Hoard? All ruled all or parts of Crimea.
Perhaps Turkey has one of the most legitimate claims to Crimea. They ruled the peninsula from 1441 to 1783. That’s about 342 years – a significant amount of time.
During the Crimean Khanate the Ottomans sacked Moscow in 1571, essentially burning the entire city to the ground. In addition to constant raids against the Russian and Slavic populations, the Ottoman Khanate, with their Tatar allies, trafficked millions of Russian and Slavic slaves from Crimea to the Ottoman Empire.
This came to an end in 1783 when, under the rule of Catherine the Great, she conquered Crimea from their Ottoman tormenters. Subsequently, Crimea became a Russian Oblast (or State) and then an Uyezd, which is an administrative subdivision of Moscow.
Crimea is also the site of Russia’s main and only warm water military port at Sevastopol.
So when 85 % of Crimea’s population is not Ukrainian and 77 % of Crimean people name Russian as their native language, it would seem strange that Crimea would end up part of Ukraine, how did this happen?
In 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued an arbitrary and ambiguous decree transferring Crimea to Ukraine. That’s it. This is what Western powers are going on – a seemingly random, and from witnesses there, a drunken decree from Khrushchev.
In my opinion, that’s not the pinnacle of legitimacy.
I’m relatively sure Khrushchev never thought Ukraine would collude with Western powers for subsidies, steal vast amounts of Russian natural gas and other resources, and line stack pipelines reversing their direction east instead of west causing deaths from hypothermia in western Europe. This happened so Ukraine could bailout a failing and corrupt steel industry.
What’s more, Ukrainian leadership enriched themselves at the expense of Russian national security, attempted to seize Russia’s most strategic naval base, and threatened to join a military alliance traditionally hostile to the Kremlin.
In hindsight, the Crimean decree was a colossal blunder that President Putin is now trying to rectify. I don’t think he has a choice. Particularly when NATO is violating its agreements to Russia that they would stop expanding and empire building eastward.
Let’s recall President George H. W. Bush’s response to members of the Ukrainian nationalist movement in 1991. That he would not support their “suicidal nationalism” based on “ethnic hatred.” I think that is sound advice when you are seeking stability and navigating the complexities of the geographically immense landmass and cultural and ethnic diversity of Eurasia.