Crimea and Beyond: Russia and Its Neighbors

Several perspectives — from political realism to an em1464605_10102150611060000_1110773902_nbrace of Ukrainian nationalism.  Is it folly for Europe and the U.S. to raise Ukraine’s hopes?  If we don’t commit to the country’s sovereignty, are betraying our principles?
I was pleased to see so many of you at the panel and hope you’ll share your own thoughts below.  And — it should go without saying — please disagree with any panelist you please, including me.  You can’t get to “truth unto its innermost parts” without honest debate.

3 Replies to “Crimea and Beyond: Russia and Its Neighbors”

  1. While I did not necessarily agree with the manner in which Professor Burg was speaking, I definitely agreed with what he had to say. His points were very sharp. I believe that Russia has a lot of legitimacy in its claim to Crimea, whether or not the Crimean referendum is valid or not. Quite honestly, I think the UN was wasting its time in voting on the legitimacy of the referendum because it does not matter whether or not it’s legitimate and Russia’s actions cannot, will not, and most importantly, should not be undone. A potential fault with Russia could perhaps be that Putin’s behavior was too aggressive in regard to how he went about claiming Crimea (the necessity of that is debatable).

    There were points made about the unique nature of Russia’s culture as derived from history. It is hard to discern history, culture, and language for nationality. In a region of the world that has been so intertwined and torn apart at all levels of identity, the resulting blend is not much of a smoothie. Reading about Crimea, I stumbled onto an interesting account pertaining to nationalism. Whilst many Crimeans were eager to “return home” claiming Russia as their motherland from which they were lost, the first generation of Ukrainian-born was torn. The youth felt a strong connection to the country it grew up in.

    While that split may leave some uncomfortable, the fact that the U.S. set international precedent by its behavior in Kosovo and now condemns Russia’s action clearly sets a double standard. However, as Professor Burg pointed out, the U.S. had no strategic motivation in its behavior, whereas Russia has authentic, justifiable, valid reasons.

  2. During the Crimea debate, the critical issue of what Ukraine’s next move should be was thoroughly discussed. Professor Burg emphatically claimed that Ukraine has no chance of defending itself against Russia through militaristic means, but instead, should focus on developing peaceful resolutions. He was quite sure that through negotiations, these two countries will be able to come to some level of understanding, and prevent an outbreak of unnecessary violence. However, the forceful annexation of Crimea leads me to believe that Russia does not enjoy making compromises. Even if an eventual agreement is reached, it is more than likely that Russia will receive the better end of the deal. Furthermore, unlike the Ukraine, Russia is not afraid of retaliation, even from the international community. As Prime Minister Putin has already made so abundantly clear, he will not allow Russia’s power, and sovereignty, to be challenged in any way. Therefore, Ukraine’s future seems bleak, in terms of remaining resilient. Ukraine can neither defend itself using force, nor diplomacy, and does not have international support to come to its aid. It is a sad fact, but a true one, that Ukraine is not significant enough to the United States that President Obama would consider becoming heavily involved. Thus, it essentially must act alone, and act quickly so as to ensure little damage to the Ukrainian people. My ultimate prediction, although this was not a view anyone else at the symposium seemed to have, is that Ukraine will simply comply with all of Russia’s demands, rather than have the situation escalate. This is not to say that it should admit defeat, but in reality, Ukraine just does not have a fighting chance at fully maintaining its sovereignty.

  3. In the debate between professor Rosenburger and Professor Burg, the issue came up as to how Ukraine should react. Professor Burg stated that it was delusional to think Ukraine would join the EU and it is in fact our job to advise against it. He thinks that a better solution is a peaceful agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Professor Rosenburger stated that instead Ukraine troops should get ready to fight, that they need a deterrent even though they would lose in battle. I agree with Fara’s opinion that Ukraine bargaining with Russia would end in Ukraine drawing the short straw. I also think that Russia has already taken enough action for them not to step down, they have the higher ground and will probably use it towards to their benefit. Why would they give up what they could gain? No one else is in a position to bargain with them. I agree with Professor Rosenburger’s sentiment that Ukraine must prepare for an attack, but their inevitable loss is not a solution to the problem. I cannot think of a plan of action that will end in peace as well as Ukraine’s sovereignty, but with the US or EU not taking any direct action, I am afraid that Ukraine will have to give in to Russia’s demands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *