As you may have read earlier, one of the biggest news stories that has been covered this week was the Crimean vote on March 16 to become a part of the Russian Federation. The decision did not particularly come as a surprise, and almost anyone familiar with the situation knew that Russia would not hesitate to extend its borders.
Many will view this as a victory for Vladimir Putin and his country, including Putin himself. This is understandable, but if I were Putin, or any other member of the government in Moscow, I would most likely finding myself strongly regretting this decision in couple of years.
Putin, at first glance, seems to make a number of justifiable arguments regarding why the Crimean Peninsula should become a part of Russia. This extends beyond the fact that Russian soldiers have a firm grip on the region. He wants us to believe that the 60 percent of ethnic Russians residing there are under constant siege. He claims that the newly established Ukrainian government in Kiev is undermining their very way of life. So far, there has been no substantial evidence that this has been the case.
Before I go further, I want to clarify that I do not believe the United States should be getting involved through any means beyond basic diplomacy. As we all know, our nation is tired of war and would rather bring our troops home rather than transport them to Eastern Europe. Of course, this may be a different story if Putin decides to extend the motherland west of Crimea, but I am hopeful that such a possibility is not in play anytime soon.
The way I see it, the matter of Crimea does not seem like something that will hit us too hard. But it will become perilous enough that the world will notice what is going on. Yes, Crimea at this point seems destined to be on the way to echo 20th century Northern Ireland. If I was Mr. Putin, I would be more concerned than pleased over adding such a territory, just as every British prime minister from the 1920s-1990s felt about Northern Ireland. The sheer amount of similarities between the two histories is so great that it is almost darkly comical.
Following the Irish War of Independence, the British parliament pushed to retain the North because the majority of residents were loyal to the crown, similar to the Russian plea that Crimea holds a majority of its citizens. On the surface, these arguments may seem plausible. But then comes to light the minority still present in these states. For Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, they found themselves under a system of discrimination that bordered on the lines of apartheid.
After several decades, the Catholic minority erupted in opposition that eventually resorted to sectarian violence. Soon, almost every British government official wished they had handled the Irish question differently. Understanding the relationship between the Russian and Ukrainian people, I see no reason why the same would not occur in Crimea.
I am highly doubtful that Mr. Putin’s government will treat the Ukrainian minority the same way as the Russians treat their Russian counterparts. When this happens, there is no doubt that the reaction will be on par with what happened during The Troubles.
So Mr. Putin, you probably should of thought twice about this one for your own sake. The Crimean conflict will make a month in Siberia seem like a holiday.