Is the annexation of Crimea a justified vision of the future?


Contributor Opinion.

Vladimir Putin successfully unlocked the key to annex Crimea, a part of Ukraine, bringing it back under Russian sovereignty. With the EU and US not recognizing the Crimean referendum as legal, economic sanctions have been imposed on Russia by Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, as well as Merkel, Obama, Hollande, Cameron – all targeted so far at freezing assets and imposing travel bans on key Putin allies.

Meanwhile, other anti-capitalist countries that consider the U.S. an imperialist dictatorship threatening their own rulership, are drawing their own lessons from the Ukranian crisis. North Korea, just yesterday mimic Russia by preparing its army for an invasion. Nicolas Maduro, uses ‘Putin’s case’ as an excuse to tyrannize Venezuelan protesters who want a country free of oppression and food shortages. “He also calls them Leo Nazis”. But out of all the countries, China raises the most concerns as it may find future excuses to justify invasion.

1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?     

2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to place its security in the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show?

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

4) Are we headed towards a war?

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia?

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond?

7) Does Russia have the right to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past? 

(Questions edited by Claude Nougat)  



Mr. Iván Gómez.

(Spanish-born political risk analyst, freelance researcher and writer. has been appointed to high responsibility positions in several multinational corporations such as the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and Zurich Insurance)

“1. I would transcend the personal enquiry and go beyond. Crimea’s annexation is illegal under International law because it breaks with the United Nations charter on the integrity of states. However, since the right to self determination (also observed by the U.N charter) is, to my view, not clear enough concerning who and when it applies, then, commentators could pull the self determination issue on the Ukranian region of Crimea. Let’s remember that Crimea has joined the Russian Federation in a 2 step process.

1) The turmoil of the past weeks in Kiev has weakened not only the government but also the state structures with the resignation of Yanukovich and the emergence of a weak transitional government. Russia has taken this impasse to militarily occupy Crimea.

2) The new pro-Russian local Crimean authorities have emerged from the chaos and encouraged by the Russian troops patrolling its territories have claimed for Crimea’s self determination right and have set a referendum on the aim of getting independent from Ukraine. The “Yes” vote has won 97% to 3%. Crimea has “de facto” become independent and although it has not been recognized by most of the international community, the weakness of the central Ukrainian government along with the lack of will to intervene in the region militarily (and avoid a clash with Russian troops by the international community), has placed the region under Moscow’s military and political control. Such “de facto” situation has brought Russia to complete the process by issuing a decree in which it recognizes Crimea as part of the national territory.

What it is at stake, in my view, is the legitmation and effectiveness of the International regime emerged from the U.N charter in 1945.

3. There are other trends in the world that resemble Crimea’s case, although, each one has its own particularities.

It is nothing new that there is tension between China and its main geopolitical competitor, Japan (backed by the U.S) over the control of the Pacific strategic routes. And it is nothing new either that Japan has increased its military clout, partly snoozed since the end of Second World War due to its Constitution constraint to use military force.

A similarity with Crimea shows within the framework of the global struggle of the newly emerged powers (Russia, China) to get energy resources and geostrategical positions.

6. In the new chess board, Russia has a strong clout as it controls most of the main gas pipelines that flow towards Eastern and Western Europe. Any sanction on Russia would be responded with retaliations over the availability and distribution of gas. Germany, the big power in Europe would be one of the most affected along with France and Italy. Meanwhile, economic sanctions over Russia would probably not have the same critical effect on the country.

7. No, Russia has no right to annex new territories just by the fact that the U.S has backed similar operations in other parts of the world according to its own interests.

Again, we are attending the dismantling of an International legal and political regime established in 1945 and led by the U.S. The mere fact that the main backers of the regime such as the U.S do not respect the regime itself is a clear sign that we are close to the end of this regime and the emergence (or not) of another regime.

If a new regime is not placed in substitution of the dying one, the world could be pushed once again to “an international anarchy” similar to the one that existed before the Second World War.

A Neo-Realist world scenario in which each state stands by itself would be based on the law imposed by the strongest on the weakest and the lack of validity of the 1945 Declaration of Human Rights.”



Seyed Mostafa Mousavipour.

(His research focus/interest is terrorism, fundamentalism, and sectarian violence in South Asia and the Middle East.)

“Russia has definitely no rights whatsoever to annex part of a country on any conceivable grounds. Although the precedents have been repeatedly set in the past by the US, and Americans had already violated territorial integrity of political entities such as Granada and Panama – to name but two, such an action by Russia – justified on any basis – would be directly undermining the very political, ethical and legal premises the world has fought for in two World Wars and a bevy of other international conflicts. That is, this provocative intervention can churn out chaos that would consume the world order and take the countries back to pre-Westphalian times. Moreover, it could teach other revisionist states such as China a bad lesson that they can annex parts of other countries at will.

Given the traditional realistic rules and tenets, Russian act of irredentism and revanchism could be interpreted in balance of power and security lights. However, such reckless policies that smack of expansionism would trigger disastrous events in the region and the world at large as it could give rise to proxy wars in the region, end up in division of Ukraine, affect dynamics between Russia and the west. The resultant fallout could have impinge heavily on the EU since the provision of European gas by Russia hangs in the balance.

The Ukrainian crisis could also be another ordeal for Obama testing its foreign policy to the breaking point. Having been already bruised by the irate republicans at home over the Syrian crisis, and having the previous debacle during the Georgian episode in mind, the foreign policy of the Obama administration centering on negative diplomacy – economic pressures and heavy sanctions – may not bring such a behemoth as Russia to its knees. American and European sanctions on Russia, in Sergei Lavrov’s words could “backfire” as it would fan the flames of open confrontation between West and East.

To solve the problem, the US has to act more sensibly, as Russia’s action is partially a response to American heightened security and military presence in eastern European countries. That is, by removing the realpolitik threats the US installed in Poland and Czech Republic Russia can come to an understanding with the West.”    



Jose Luis Chalhoub Naffah.

(Political Scientist- Russia and Middle East Energy Geopolitics Analyst BYBLOS CONSULTING Director.)

“Every nation has a right for self determination and if Crimea decided to hold a referendum, even if it was strongly supported by Russia, so be it, given that the majority of Crimean population is Russian ethnic and speaking. And of course, all this has a high geopolitical basis, based on Russian aspiration against Washington and the EU support for Ukraine´s new government.

In my opinion, President Obama´s stance towards Russia and President Putin has always been very lame and naive, giving Mr Putin so much leverage and influence over international politics lately, i.e, towards Syria, Georgia, and now towards Crimea. Talking about the implications of sanctions towards Russia, in my belief, Russia has much economic and financial position than Italy, and all these fuss about the sanctions will be mere symbolism, having Russia control over gas flow and supply to Europe on more than 80% almost, so these sanctions if ever more aggressive, will for sure backlash and have a boomerang effect for everyone involved, and that’s why there´s no consensus on this 100%. Russia will respond with the strongest weapon it has: energy, and will finally shift its currency system to a basket of currencies if it feels really threatened.

Lets remember Russia has a very strong Stabilization Fund consisting of more than 12 years of oil revenues at 100$ per barrel daily for 10 million barrels a day and more than 300 million cubic feet of gas exports to Europe that makes the Kremlin up until now even with all the internal problems, stronger than most of the European economies altogether.

And talking about the right to annex countries, well the US has been the master in this field so it has no moral rights to teach and impose other nations its will, and overall Washington has the intention of blocking Russia by imposing puppet governments in all the former soviet republics, even more now that by 2015 the Eurasian Union will come into fruition. If there´s any doubt, ask Mr Brezinski, he´ll have a clue on Eurasian intentions for Washington.”



Peter D. Rosenstein.

(He is a non-profit executive, journalist and Democratic and community activist. His background includes teaching; serving as Coordinator of Local Government for the City of New York; working in the Carter Administration; and Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia.)

“1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?

I do not support the Crimea’s annexation. I do understand why Russia has an interest in the Crimea and that it is crucial that they have access to the port. I believe that could have been handled with a renewed treaty that the Western powers would have supported. Moving in with the military and then supporting a vote for secession with the Russian military standing guard should be condemned by the civilized world.

2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to rest its security on the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show?

I think that it is crucial that the United States back up its agreements with actions. Those actions in this case will include joint military operations which are now going to take place with the Ukraine. We will need to supply funds and training as requested by the Ukrainian government but that doesn’t mean we will place American ‘boots’ on the ground at this time. If we break our promises to one country we will be suspect by all. But the goal for the West has to be NATO involvement so the United States doesn’t appear to be going it alone.

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

I don’t think China will use this as an excuse to invade the Sensaku Islands. They actually have never needed an excuse to do that if they were so inclined. I believe China is trying to become a more peaceful, if stronger, world partner and at the same time is experiencing great growing pains in their economy and that will take them time to solve. While we see them building their military might we must recognize that the United States over the years has done the same in the name of ‘the stronger we are the more likely we can maintain the peace’. It hasn’t always worked out that way but the world needs to strive for the most normal possible of relations with China and involve them as much as we can in decisions that are made with regard to ‘Global’ issues including those surrounding the environment and climate change.

4) Are we headed towards a war?

No. I don’t believe we are headed towards a war. I believe that Putin saw this as his chance to correct what Khrushchev did when he turned the Crimea over to the Ukraine. Putin will go as far as he can but will try to avoid an all-out war.

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia?

Yes overall. Obama is in a difficult position as the American people will never approve of putting ‘boots on the ground’ in a situation like this. So Obama has had to try to work with our Allies and NATO in getting them to move with us on sanctions. The Europeans have much more to lose than we do. They get more of their oil and gas from Russia and have a much larger trading interest with them. Also Obama has had to deal with the Congress and a controlling faction of the Republican Party that will try to stymie his every move and do everything, including potentially hurting American interests, if they can make him look bad. Within this framework I think he has done a good job and made the right decisions.

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond?

Russia will try to bluster their way through any sanctions. They will threaten to withhold gas and oil from Europe and they will make additional military threats to the Ukraine. But in the long run the Russians can’t afford lengthy sanctions. They already will have to make up about $300 million a year in what Crimea will lose from the Ukraine by Russia’s annexation. The Crimea doesn’t have an economy that can support itself and Russia’s economy isn’t healthy enough to take that on for the long term. But there will be much saber rattling from Putin depending on the severity of the sanctions.

7) Does Russia have the rights to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past?

No. No country has the right to send in troops to annex other countries or parts of other Countries. As Hillary Clinton recently said this is reminiscent of Hitler and we must hope the world has learned something from that and the civilized world will stand together on this.”



Steven Hansen.

(Publisher and Co-founder of Econintersect, is an international business and industrial consultant specializing in turning around troubled business units; consults to governments to optimize process flows; and provides economic indicator analysis based on unadjusted data and process limitations.)

“1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?

I did not support the breakup of the Soviet Union into unstable states. Crimea in since the late 1700’s has been part of, or administered by, Russia in one way or another.

2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to rest its security on the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show?

It shows you can never trust anyone.

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

Yes and no. Russia did NOT invade per se, but could use the cover it was invited in by the former government (or current depending on your interpretation of the overthrow of a legitimate government in Ukraine).This is by far a hazy situation. my normal stance is change in borders is not an acceptable solution – but recent history has seen changes in borders. However, I do think that what the Russians are doing would be used as a precedent by others.

4) Are we headed towards a war?

Potentially – but it will be triggered by others doing the same think Russia did.

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia?

I am far from an Obama lover, but i doubt any USA president would have done differently (except maybe Reagan). the USA has lost its ability to play chess and to put uncertainty into its response. If I were the USA president, my actions for the last 8 years would have been different – options today are very limited if one opposes what Russia did. The point for me is that i do NOT oppose what Russia did – as there is a range of historical, ethnic, military issues which support annexation. I would have felt differently had Russia annexed all of Ukraine.

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond?

The question is off base – Russia has strategic energy assets need by Europe. The question assumes all economies can be measure solely on the basis of GDP. Russia has ways to cripple the European economy (by limiting energy exports) with little additional damage to its own economy.

7) Does Russia have the rights to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past?

Already answered. in this case, I do not object per se, I have concerns only.”


Catherine Haig.

C. Bonjukian Patten.

(She is a Financial Consultant with my own Bookkeeping/Office Management LLC working in the Greater NYC Area for clients in a cross section of industry.)

“I don’t support the Crimea annexation at all. Russia is playing the world with this “vote on referendum”. It’s BS. What happened is that Putin and Russia invaded the Ukraine and kidnapped the Crimea by force calling it RUSSIAN TERRITORY. There are plenty of American companies that need to have access to Russia because they do business in that country. These sanctions that are being imposed are nothing to help the Ukraine who the US swore to protect once they gave up their nuclear options. We did not do what we said and America and Obama threw the Ukrainians under the bus.

Now, North Korea who overwhelmingly re-elected (total sarcasm) their young DICKtator back into power because if they didn’t he’d seek them out and kill them like he did his own uncle, is looking at America to invade. Wouldn’t that be peachy? NO. It would not and because Obama and the rest of the EU: GERMANY, UK, FRANCE did nothing to help the Ukraine but throw sanctions on Russia; Putin shrugged. He threw sanctions on America and the other countries. Now we are not allies with Russia anymore?

This is a very bad situation. America does not recognize the take over of the Crimea; we are telling Putin’s Russia you did something that the international community deems ILLEGAL! China is looking at other countries that its enemy Japan owns and also Taiwan, who wants nothing to do with China.

America and the EU’s inaction concerning promises made to the Ukraine which borders Russia are going to resound in a huge problem for the future. We still may have to face a WW3 which could end really badly however we cannot allow North Korea to invade America or any other country and we cannot allow that from China either but these countries are looking at the situation between the EU/America and Russia to see who the victor will be.

Frankly speaking; the EU is a disaster with Germany and France as the leading countries speaking for the EU. Here are two countries that are filled with neo Nazi’s and fruitcakes. The Leo Nazi’s from Germany who in the last century took over France, a country full of cup and fruitcakes whom the USA had to bail out of two world wars is now fronting the EU.

That is scary crap”



Adil F Raja.

(He is an independent Political and Security analyst from Pakistan with a diverse background in Governance, International Relations, Special Ops and International Security/Political Consultancy.)

“The theme behind the above quoted questions is most pertinent issue facing global power dynamics with direct implications on the both regional and world security. The Russian move forms the climax of Putin’s regional hegemonic drive which is the realization of the Russian desire to regain the lost glory associated with the Soviet Union.

Strong economies without an integral security paraphernalia, historically have suffered forced subjugation by militarily stronger neighbors. The current Russian actions or perceived Chinese maneuvers questioned above, hence should only come as surprise to the US and EU. The western block enjoyed an almost free run in post USSR global power politics until now.

The essential problem with the US/EU coalition seems to be their universal application of the western brand of democracy which requires conscious participation of the masses. In the wider part of the world, the masses are still heavily subjugated by the state through miscellaneous control mechanisms.

The western brand of democracy, in particular at the EU, is an ideal form of governance, but constitutes of the participating population, who are educated, modern, integrated and aware of their rights.

However, for the vast world, all these qualities are a mere novelty, when it comes to the questions of basic day to day survival.To top it off, the US desire to secure the energy resources of the middle east and hence the military actions those followed in recent past, makes it even more harder to convince any logical mind, that the American brand of “freedom via democracy” is more than the “drive for oil” which in the process have destroyed millions of lives.

Russia holds the energy keys to the EU, which should suffice as an ace on the bargaining table, as and when required. The Russian economy may be a weak case but the influence and proximity of Russia, in the future global energy corridors, will force the West to resort to arbitration. Proxy wars, are the way of this world now, while all powers will keep a leash in escalation of the same to global level.

In the name of national interest, global politics are shaped and supersedes all other pacts and pledges as evident in the past by the behavior of all potent global powers. Public opinions are shaped and moulded by the global cooperate media, at the will of the businessmen who owns them.

Global catastrophe is the last thing any good businessman wants, and hence won’t allow their respective governments to go on an absolute war path in an increasingly interdependent world. However, if a catastrophe is required to generate desired profits, that’s what is designed by the interlocutors. Ironically, it has to be limited in design only, while the human reaction and tragedy surpasses the designed path, almost every time, but who cares, less those who suffer. Such is the way of world…………………………

This is all a part of the chain reaction started by the US led coalition, which started Gulf war, Iraq’s misconceived invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The US, long ago, lost the moral grounds to check the Russian or for that matter the Chinese military actions against their weak neighbors to spread their hegemony.

The path, which follows, leads to the transformation of the present unipolar world, not to bipolar status, but a multipolar one. The Chinese will most definitely flex their muscles in times to come on the Russian model. The US/EU will be forced to compromise in one way or the other. “Might is Right”, will prevail for the time being with interesting times ahead for international relations, where many alliances will be formed and fall………………..”



Tony Greenstein.

(Tony Greenstein has been a political activist for all his adult life, mainly focusing on Palestine, anti-racist and anti-fascist activities. He wrote columns for the Guardian.)

“1)     Yes

2)      The very question is biased.  There was no agreement to come to Ukraine’s help militarily.  In any case the situation has changed beyond all recognition.   The US and Europe funnelled money to the Opposition to oppose the economic accord with Russia.  Russia doesn’t particularly care for being surrounded by a belt of NATO countries anymore than the US looked kindly on Cuba stationing missiles.  The US tore up the  anti-ballistic missile treaty so Russia has even greater cause for concern.

The previous Ukrainian administration was overthrown.  The most prominent in using force was the neo-Nazi Svobada.  Clearly it was supplied with weaponry by Europe and the US.  The present Ukrainian administration was about to abolish Russian as a second language.  The Crimean Russians were seen as the fascists’ enemy so the real question is why the USA supports Ukrainian fascists who are directly descended from those who collaborated with Nazi Germany in the war.

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

Again a biased pro-US hawk’s question.  China doesn’t need Russia as an excuse since the islands are theirs.  More to the point it is no business of the US.  Japan is now ruled by a nationalist  Right who would like to repeat Japanese attacks on China but are unable to.  The islands are much nearer China than Japan.  It is a matter for China not the ‘world’s self-appointed policeman’.

No China won’t attack  Taiwan but it is no business of the US which has invaded more countries than Russian and China combined.  Iraq was a war crime.  We have yet to see Bush in the dock,  I forgot the US doesn’t submit to the ICC’s jurisdiction.  It makes its own laws.

4)    The US Right would like to, even if it meant mutually assured destruction.  Not in the short-term but it is probable in the medium term as the US brooks no competition.

5)    Did he have a choice?  US troops and ships would have been destroyed given that US forces are spread out so widely in the Middle East and Asia.

6)    I dispute the basic premise of the question.  Russia has adopted a form of state capitalism.  It has a strong military and a massive land mass.  It supplies the rest of Europe with much of its gas and oil.  Italy supplies us with pasta!  If the US sanctions Russia economically Russia will default on its debts.

7)    No Russia has no such right but again the assumption is wrong.  The people of Crimea wished to join Russia.  Why was it right in Kosovo but wrong in Ukraine?  The real issue is the spread of market capitalism, which knows nothing about human need and is amoral to its core.  The behavior of Russia and the US cannot be compared.”


David Merkel

David J. Merkel.

“CFA is Principal of the equity and bond asset management firm Aleph Investments, LLC, and writes The Aleph Blog. Previously, he was the Director of Research for Finacorp Securities, Senior Investment Analyst at Hovde Capital, and a leading commentator at

“1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?


2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to rest its security on the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show?

Ukraine didn’t have the money to keep nuclear weapons viable.  Ukraine could have made greater efforts to join the EU and NATO earlier.  They didn’t do that.

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

They could.  They might.  But China plays a longer game than Russia, and thinks even more strategically.

All that said, China’s financial system is a mess.  Adventurism is not on China’s menu, because their economy is a mess.  Don’t believe the published statistics.

4) Are we headed towards a war?

That depends on how stupid the US is.  There should be no big war out of this – after all the US did nothing after the invasion of Georgia, and Russia tweaked the nose of the US over Syria.

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia?

Yes, because the nations near Russia need to take care of themselves.  If they are not armed to the teeth, like Israel, that is their fault.  Don’t rely on the US to help you, especially under Obama.

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond?

Those who lead Russia don’t care about its economy.  Many of its people will be hurt, but Russia has a persecution complex as it views itself as the Third Rome, protecting its branch of the Orthodox world.

7) Does Russia have the rights to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past?

No one has that right.  Not the US, Russia, China, or anyone.  But they may do it.  Look at history, and Putin is just an ordinary opportunist, and a clever one, rationally calculating what his opponents may do in response to his actions, and concluding the answer is little.


I am in favor of the US disentangling itself from the alliances it has entered into.  We should not be the global cop.  Let the other nations of the world defend themselves.  If it means we lose access to resources or business dealings, so be it.  If you feel threatened by Russia, you deal with it.”



Bruce Krasting 

(He worked on Wall Street for twenty five years.  He was an FX trader during the early days of the ‘snake’ and the EMS.Derivatives on currencies were new then with Citi Bank.)

“#1 I believe in the rules of law and the integrity of national boundaries. That being the case I’m apposed to the annexation of Crimea by Russia.

But….Crimea is a very special situation. It is part of Russia. Russia has had a military base there for the last 150 years. The vote in Crimea that overwhelmingly supported the annexation can’t be ignored. The people have spoken, and they do not want to be part of the Ukraine, they want to be Russian.

I believe those voters will regret their vote in a few years, but as of today there is little doubt about what the people wanted. Is the West to ignore this vote? It would appear so, and that would be a mistake.

#2 Should the West provide military support to the Ukraine? Absolutely not. I don’t want one US soldier to die on this soil. And I don’t want to see billions in military sales either.

The US seems to be taking the lead on the Ukraine story. That is a mistake. This is an EU problem. If Germany/France do not lead the effort, then the USA should take a back seat. This is not our fight.

#3 Is China going to flex its muscle soon? Will they step up their efforts on the disputed islands and Taiwan? I’m sure that this is going to happen in the next several years.

China’s economy is in much worse shape than the media is reporting. I think an economic hiccup is in the works. If this happens there will be domestic social problems. What better way to distract an angry public then by waging a war over islands that are ‘owned’ by China’s enemy – Japan.

The Russians are setting a precedent; they can take over land without much consequence. Surely China is watching this and is encouraged by the ‘success’ that Russia has had so far.

#4 We are not headed for war over Crimea. The US people would revolt if our troops started headed in that direction.

Given the location/logistics the West can’t win a ground war in Eastern Europe. Any military reaction by the West would be met by Russia, and the West would lose that fight.

#5 Is Obama doing the “right things”.  I don’t think so. The US is leading the sanctions effort. This should be done by the EU, not the USA. If European leaders can’t get their act together, then the US should not be involved.

#6 The sanctions will backfire. Russia will sell its gas to China and turn off the spigot to Europe. Who wins that battle? Russia/China. Who loses? The West. The economic sanctions that have been announced have no teeth. The Russians are laughing at them.

#7 I don’t think that Russia (or any other country) has the right to just annex territory. But if the people in those areas vote 97% to affiliate with Russia, there’s not a damn thing the West can do about it.

My take – Crimea is critical to the Russians. It has the deep-water port AND it is a breadbasket for Russia. But Crimea has problems. It gets the bulk of its water (drinking and irrigation) from the Ukraine. Gas pipelines from the north provide gas and a hydro dam located in the Ukraine provides most of the electricity.

I think Putin’s next step will be to annex the pipelines, water and electric supplies. This will be a major escalation if this happens. I’m waiting for some pro-western politicians in the Ukraine to advocate cutting off Crimea’s water, gas and electric. That will be Putin’s excuse to act.

Question left open:

How involved was the CIA (and other western intelligence agencies) in the Kiev uprisings that started all of this off? The history books will show that the ‘spies’ had a big hand in fomenting the uprising that lead to the shootings. I think that the effort to stimulate protest was done exactly at the time of the Russian Olympics with the sole objective of making Putin/Russia look bad.

If that is the case (I think it is), then how would you feel if you were Putin? I would be mad, and be looking to retaliate. So who really started this fracas? Was it the meddling West? Or was it the (justifiably) angry Russians?

I think there are no clean hands in this story.”



Georgios Protopapas. 

(He is Research Associate – Media Analyst at Research Institute of European and American Studies (RIEAS) based in Athens.)

“The president of Russia Vladimir Putin adopted the theory of realism during the crisis between Moscow and Kiew. Putin immediately secured the Russian geopolitical interests in Crimea after the fall of the pro-Russian president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych.  Crimea’s annexation is considered the natural outcome of the Ukrainian- Russian crisis as the majority of the population in peninsula is Russian and the port of Sevastopol is the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The geopolitical position of Ukraine is of great importance for Russia. Zbigniew Brzezinski writes in his book “The Grand Chessboard” that “Ukraine is a  geopolitical  pivot  because  its  very  existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state, more likely to be drawn into debilitating conflicts with aroused Central Asians, who would then be resentful of the loss of their recent independence and would be supported by their fellow Islamic states to the south. If Moscow regains control over  Ukraine,  with  its  52  million  people  and  major  resources  as  well  as  its  access  to  the  Black  Sea,  Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia”.

Ukraine’s crisis reminds “Cold War” strategies but the international security system is very different after the fall of Soviet Union. We could suppose that the European periphery continues to be a small area of “Cold War” due to the antagonism between West and Russia for influence. The European security system excludes Russian and a further eastern expansion of the Euro- Atlantic institutions threatens the Russian national security. Russia considers the former Soviet States a traditional sphere of influence and has showed that can protect its national interest in this area at any cost.

However a war between Ukraine and Russia is difficult to start because: Ukraine does not have adequate national armed forces and Moscow has already secured its geopolitical interests in Crimea. Moreover Ukraine’s allies, the European Union and the USA have demonstrated a limited action against Russia. They have condemned Putin’s aggressive policy against Crimea and have imposed financial sanctions to Russia. The European Union encounters significant political and financial problems and Washington does not want another “military adventure”, especially with Russia.  Washington and Moscow cooperate in order to resolve Syria’s civil war and to prevent the expansion of Islamic extremist fighters in Middle East and North Caucasus, respectively.

We could assume that the USA president Barack Obama adopted the right decisions as Ukraine seems to be a second priority for the American national interests. Obama has showed that the use of diplomacy is always its first option on the international crisis. The outbreak of the war between Ukraine and Russia involves the risk to provoke NATO’s reaction if the war outcome seriously threatens the European security.

Russia has the tools to undermine the European security exploiting the Russian populations in Baltic States, Caucasus and Moldavia. Putin has attested that use the military power when the Russian national interests are in really danger. Russia does not have ethically the right to annex provinces of a state. However Moscow could invoke that the USA have supported the annexation or the autonomy of provinces of a state in order to promote their geopolitical interests in Balkans and the Middle East ignoring for the changes of the borders.”


Claude Nougat.

(Passionate traveler (80 countries+), Now lives in Italy.25 years experience in UNITED NATIONS (project evaluation specialist; FAO Director for Europe/Central Asia) Before that: banking, editing, free-lance journalism, college teaching (economics), marketing. She now writes novels.) 

“1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?

No but I can see why we have to live with it. This is pure geo-politics: Putin is playing in his own backyard and Crimea is host to the major Russian military base controlling the Black Sea and access to the Mediterranean.

2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to rest its security on the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show? 

It doesn’t show anything really; this kind of treaty is rarely respected, the US Senate certainly didn’t, so there’s nothing amiss here. Historically, treaties are more often ignored or rejected than respected – this is the case here. Again, geo-politics is the answer. The best that can be hoped for is the Ukraine maintains at least some of its basic integrity (the non-Russian part) and becomes a “buffer state” between Putin’s Russia and the EU.

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan? 

What happens on the European theater does not necessarily translate to the East Asia theater. Geo-politics is a better key to understanding what will happen next with China.

4) Are we headed towards a war?

Absolutely not. It’s in nobody’s interest.

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia? 

There’s not much he can do. The sanctions against individuals in Putin’s entourage is a minimum – but there’s no reason why sanctions should be expanded. That’s geo-politics again – or, if you prefer, “real politic” to use a German term. 

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond? 

This will not happen. The globalization of markets make it unthinkable that we might be headed towards increased sanctions on either part.

 7) Does Russia have the rights to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past? 

No “right” here. What Russia is invoking is another right altogether: the right to defend Russian-speaking people no matter where they live in the (now extinct) Soviet Union. And it has invoked the “right of people to self-determination” as the basis for the referendum in Crimea. A majority of the people presently living in Crimea really do want to go back to “Mother Russia”, they were separated by a Soviet “error” made by Kruschev, some 60 years ago.”


Jaime Ortega Simo.

(President, founder and writer for  The Daily Journalist)

“1)Do you support Crimea’s annexation?

In a sense yes, but no. The truth is that the Ukrainian government has treated ethnic Crimean’s as second class citizens since the country became independent in 1990. During Putin’s era, Russian influence in Crimea has allowed for better financial prosperity than that experienced through Boris Yeltsin, and the Russian Oligarchs. Ukraine’s corrupted financial apparatus has negatively impacted  Crimea’s monetary policy for years, so is no wonder why Crimean’s also dislike Ukrainian leaders. That said, Putin’s personal agenda, is mixed with the Crimean’s people will to live a better life. Putin is using Crimean’s as dummies to awake his real dream and build a new Russian empire.

If 93% of Crimean’s voted to stay with Russia over the Ukraine, the will of the state should not interfere with people’s desire to do so. Democracy is used to express the spirit of its citizens over the sovereignty of the head of the nation. I don’t agree that bully nations like Russia should rule out abiding international laws and treaties to quench their personal agenda, but is no mystery Crimean’s wanted Russia to take over.

Those that firmly believe in constitutional solutions  should not support the rioters behavior that caused the Ukrainian crisis because  without the use of democratic procedures activist arbitrarily expelled Viktor Yanukovych from his position. The U.S. and Europe support democracy, but when the Ukrainian government spiraled down in the midst of anarchy, no western country spoke about “constitutional rights!”  Its a hypocrites world’

I don’t support the referendum not because its undemocratic (its is), but simply because Russia is not a democracy and annexing Crimea is just another step to regain the fantasy of the USSR, now called the Euro Asian Union.

2) Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons to rest its security on the hands of the US. If foreign allies do not supply military aid to countries they promised to protect, what does it show?

In a sense, NATO is entitled to defend Ukraine’s interest because it was signed on a treaty July 9 1997. NATO and Ukraine officially signed an agreement that anyone, even a peripatetic ex-president, can find on NATO’s website. All five states party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons gave Ukraine security assurances in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

That agreement was reaffirmed on August 21, 2009:

“In addition to the regular consultative and cooperative meetings set out in the Charter, the NUC [NATO Ukraine Council] will be convened following a request from Ukraine if Ukraine perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence, or security, in line with paragraph 8 of the Partnership for Peace Framework Document

If NATO does not react to Its promises, it just raises future concerns about their global alliances and what porpoise these serve. NATO’s effect on Russian sovereignty send weak messages to other nations watching (Taiwan, Nepal or Israel).

3) Will China, that abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council, also use Russia as an excuse to invade Sensaku Islands disputed by Japan? Will China go after Taiwan?

China, play’s Russian roulette with the UN because it allows Beijing to explore similar objectives for future occasions. Xi Jinping and Putin might find common ground backstabbing  U.S foreign policy behind doors, but Russia and China dispute the Kuril Islands among other territories which have been contended for over the century. So I think it is not good news for Russia if neighboring China plans to annex other countries around the region, and vice-versa. As in the end, both countries will also dispute Siberian provinces and other neighboring countries with both Russian and Chinese influence.

4) Are we headed towards a war?

History shows that war means defiance. Wars are decided not by interest but by belief. If Russia, defies the west without fearing economic sanctions, I believe it’s a step closer to war.

Russia does not care about the G8. In the end, to start wars all it takes a nut-case like Putin to start global conflicts without caring about the consequences his decisions enclose. Hitler, had an ideology that led  him to war,  that was that every nation spoke Deutsche as the official universal language. Putin has a mission to fulfill, that is the reunification of the USSR. Financial sanctions stop working when crazy people try to fulfill personal missions. Al-Qaeda and radical Islamism show this point clearly.

5) Has Obama adopted the right decisions against Russia?

Obama is possibly the worst decision maker to ever land on Capitol Hill. But he only represents the people who voted for him.

6) Russia has the economic strength of Italy. If the EU, and the US sanction Russia financially, how will Russia respond?

I think next time around, Russia will respond with military action. As we discussed a few weeks ago, Military power can overwrite financial power by using violence and Putin knows this. Wealth can be threatened with military response. But he is not ready yet.

7) Does Russia have the rights to annex other countries considering the US has also supported such things in the past?

The sad part, is historically not many countries have remained unified after a few centuries. Forceful intervention is wrong, but history teaches us that what happened in Crimea, so did the U.S. allow when they interfered in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Somalia’s …conflict , and we can take the ‘rabbit hole’ back to the first civilizations to see the exact same problems observed today.

In the end, it’s a nomads land, in a no man’s world. ”


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