I have not closely followed the Russian take-over of Crimea, but I was stuck by a recent news article revealing that 80% of the people in Crimea were Russians. This made me think of the analogous situation in Northern Ireland, where most of the people were Protestants although Ireland as a whole is controlled by the dominant majority, Catholics. Should Protestant Northern Ireland be allowed to align itself with Protestant Great Britain or be forced to stay with Catholic Ireland? Similarly, should Crimea with its dominant Russian majority be allowed to align itself to Russia or be forced to stay with Ukraine where it will be a small minority? The fitting adage is damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Any article in this week’s Time magazine provided further support for the Russian takeover of Crimea. The article described the circumstances of how Russia originally gave up sovereignty over Crimea:
- “That gift was made in 1954 on the whim of Nikita Khrushchev, who was then the leader of the Soviet Union. He decided to take Crimea away from Russia and transfer it to Ukraine at a time when the placement of their borders didn’t really matter. (Legend has it that Khrushchev was drunk when he signed the papers.) All three were part of the Soviet Union, whose collapse seemed unthinkable. But when it all broke apart in 1991, Crimea and its majority-Russian population found themselves in what felt like a foreign land.”
Based on this background, I think President Obama has reacted appropriately to the Russian take-over – i.e., he mildly objected, but did nothing significant, because this was not an unreasonable action by the Russians.