The post-vote crisis

SO CRIMEA has voted to be part of Moscow. Irrespective of the debate whether the referendum held on the peninsula under Russian tutelage was legal or not, the point is that a thumping majority of Russian-speaking people in Crimea have voted to go back under Kremlin’s rule.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Tue 18 Mar 2014, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:35 PM

At the same time, the Tatars and non-Russian speaking people are in a sad state, keeping their fingers crossed fearing expulsion and discrimination once again at the hands of Muscovites. The referendum has psychologically divided the people of Crimea and put Ukraine in a renewed crisis of identity. The fact that there was no option in the vote for those who wanted the constitutional arrangements to remain unchanged has ruffled the European Union, which is now contemplating sanctions against Moscow. But Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that he has a perfect case under international law, and the vote can be regarded as valid by the international comity.

The verdict has, in fact, compounded the crisis, and there seems to be no middle ground now to defuse tensions. Under the principle of self-determination, the Russian-speaking people of Crimea can hope to see their ballot dreams come true by once again becoming part of Russia. The minorities can claim safe passage from Crimea if their life becomes miserable as it was under Joseph Stalin. The West’s response to the vote, especially of the United States and Nato, will indicate what kind of political geography emerges in that part of the world, and to what extent it will be a trouble-free development.

As world capitals contemplate policy responses to the developments in Ukraine, the escalating tension has to be controlled. There are unnerving reports of clashes elsewhere in Ukraine and if they spill over in Crimea, they could impact the entire region adversely. Brussels and Washington, which are mulling over sanctions, should take a break from their traditional tit-for-tat diplomacy and open up a new vista of dialogue with Russia. The West cannot engage Russia on the military front, at least as far as Ukraine is concerned. So it is time for some proactive diplomacy. The West can do a better job by holding back retaliatory sanctions and prevailing over Kremlin to step away from the upheavals in Ukraine. A middle ground has to be found if an assertive Putin is to be checked.

More news from