Crimea and Kosovo have much in common: an autonomous status, military bases of other countries on their territories, and a longing for independence among the majority of the population. Crimea’s ethnic composition and Western policy towards Ukraine could create a Kosovo-like scenario. The Voice of Russia talked to Serge Trifkovic, writer on international affairs and foreign affairs editor for the paleoconservative magazine Chronicles.
VoR: Can you draw any parallels between the situation in Kosovo in 2008 and the current situation in Ukraine’s Crimea region?
Trifkovic: The parallel has been invoked already. What seems obvious is that Russia in fact has a better claim to the Crimean peninsula than the Kosovo Albanians have ever had to Kosovo, because the Crimean peninsula has been an integral part of Russia since Catherine the Great, and until in February 1954 Nikita Khrushchev—with a stroke of a pen—transferred it to Ukraine; whereas Kosovo had never belonged to Albania, except for a brief period during the Italian and Nazi occupation during the WW II.
Also, let us we look at the precedent that the US established in Kosovo—and, of course, they claim that it is not a precedent, that it is a special case, that it is sui generis, if you will. But that claim is of course invalid. Then, by America’s own rules of the game, Russia is perfectly justified in intervening, because the American excuse for bombing Serbia was that the Albanians were threatened by the “Serbian genocide”. Well, as we now know, it had never happened. The total number of victims on all sides in Kosovo during the intervention was in the range of 2000.
On the other hand, the Russian- speaking people not only in Crimea, but also along the Black Sea coast—in Odessa, in Nikolayev and in the east, in Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov—have every right to feel threatened by the fact that neo-Nazis are now in power in Kiev. And I use this term guardedly, because very often people use “Nazi” or “fascist” as a term of abuse. But people from the Right Sector and from the Svoboda Party are unadulterated neo-Nazis who do not conceal their nostalgia for the Ukrainian SS division Galizien, brandishing its symbols and the black-and-red flag, and openly invoking the legacy of Stepan Bandera.
Leaving pro-Russian Ukrainians and the Russians in Ukraine to the tender mercies of these people would indeed be irresponsible in the extreme. And since the US and America’s NATO partners invoked the so-called right to protect doctrine in 2011, when they proceeded with the Libyan military intervention, then the right to protect applies in this case to a much higher degree of magnitude.
Since Kosovo declared independence from Yugoslavia, after ethnic tensions between Kosovo’s Albanians and Serb population, 110 countries have recognized it as a sovereign state and established diplomatic relations. What is your forecast on Crimea? Will its independence be recognized by the international community?
Well, first of all, the international community does not exist. The international community is an invention of the US and its fellow travelers in central and western Europe, and in Canada and Australia. The international community, as defined by the Western world is in reality the will of Washington and Brussels, the will of the EU and NATO. So, it is a mythical creature.
I do not believe that Crimea should be independent. In fact, I think it should be returned to Russia and the interlude of 60 years is meaningless, because Khrushchev’s decision in February of 1954 had no grounding in history, in culture, in language, in economics or in geography. And therefore, I do not believe that we are facing a similar situation, because there is no earthly reason why the Crimean peninsula should be an independent state, it should simply revert to Russia with, perhaps, the status of an autonomous republic.
And although you’ve already answered this question, but still, to reassert. The West has repeatedly said that Crimea’s secession would have no legal effect. Do you share this stand?
Absolutely not, because if they have decided that the secession of Croatia and Slovenia in 1991 from Yugoslavia was legal and then the referendum on Bosnia Herzegovina’s independence in February 1992 was legal, even though it clearly violated the constitution of Bosnia Herzegovina, as it stood at that time, which unequivocally postulated that there must not be the voting of two constituent nations against one.
Since they recognized Croatia and Slovenia in December of 1991 and since they recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina in April of 1992 on the basis of these flawed referenda, and since they recognized Kosovo, there is absolutely no grounds to claim that the Ukrainian situation is fundamentally different. Crimea is seceding from Ukraine because the Crimeans have every right to feel threatened by an extreme nationalist neo-Nazi government in Kiev, dominated by violent elements from western Ukraine.
They are simply reverting to status quo ante. It would be richly ironic for the Western world to escalate the tension in order to preserve the legacy of the First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party from 60 year ago. That would indeed set a ridiculous precedent.
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