Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 23, 2014

Vasicek: On Crimea and Russia

A friend was chatting to me about the similarities between Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea — justified on the basis of it being populated by ethnic Russians — and Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland just before the outbreak of World War II. His opinion was that history was repeating itself. Let us pray it does not!

According to Wikipedia, “Since ca. 700 BC, the peninsula [Crimea] has changed hands well over a dozen times, with all or part having been controlled by Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Romans, Goths, Huns, Khazars, Kievan Rus’ (early Ukraine), the Byzantine Empire, Venice, Genoa, Kipchaks, the Golden Horde, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and modern independent Ukraine.”

A region like Crimea has suffered enough. Yet, according to the BBC, the end is not in sight: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state, paving the way for it to be absorbed into Russia.

“The decree said it had taken into account Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, in which officials said 97% of voters backed breaking away from Ukraine.

“The EU and US said the referendum was illegal and imposed sanctions on 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine. Crimea was taken over by pro-Russian gunmen in late February.”

Most of the world is suspicious when a vote is taken while a nation is occupied by foreign troops with an agenda. Fear — and the quest for peace at any price — can be compelling.

Crimea has been an autonomous, self-governing republic within the Ukraine since the Soviet Union dissolved. The United States has “territories” (the best known is Puerto Rico), but we cannot illustrate the position that Crimea had within Ukraine. An important point to remember, however, is that once the Soviet Union dissolved and the Crimeans formed their government, they freely chose to be self-governing AND a part of Ukraine. Please underscore that word “freely.”

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