Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War 1854-1855. Today modern Sevastopol is again being blockaded by Russian soldiers. Painting by Franz Roubaud.
A little over two weeks ago, on March 1st, the Russian parliament authorised Putin to deploy Russian troops in the crimea. In effect giving Putin a free hand to use force against Ukranians opposed to Russian hegemony. Since then Russian troops have mobilised in Crimea (Currently they are pulled back from the country’s eastern borber). Some 16,000 troops threaten the stability of the Ukraine. It is an action that has provoked international outcry and censure. In 1853 Russia invaded the crimea with an expansionist goal and to protect it’s eastern orthodox communities, today it uses the cover of protecting it’s Russian citizens against radical groups in the Ukraine. It smells a lot like Serbia’s reasoning during the Balkan conflict of the 90’s and look what happened there ! Russian military experts say the world is overacting. According to the highest Russian spokesperson ,they say it is a form of peacekeeping in order to prevent a full scale civil war. Yeah right ! Under no circumstances can it be justified. Crossing into Ukrainian territory amounts to a violation of international law, no matter how you try to dress it up.
Overnight the Ukraine and the world’s major powers will brace itself for the results of a scheduled referendum in Crimea, which is being called unconstitutional. It is expected the majority of Russians in Crimea will attempt to breakaway from the Ukraine, which may trigger a conflict and a real danger of Moscow seizing further territory. As a person of Croatian heritage I know all too well how these things tend to play out. The right for self termination is a juggling act that presents itself with a magnitude of problems especially in the Balkans and the Eastern Block. My sympathies lie with the Ukraine’s right to stand up to an aggressive Russian State. The Ukrainian people didn’t drive out one despot to be replaced by another. Putin’s hunger for power and greed is all too reminiscent of the days of old. His actions are also being compared to that of Adolf Hitler back in the 1930’s ? It would seem that he is obsessed with a vision of a greater Russia Lets hope that common sense prevails, though history tells us that the worst is still yet to come. Lets hope that history is wrong!