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May 18, 2022

Crimea – A different kind of crisis (II)

In fact, the Kiev government demonstrated that the events in Kharkov and Donetsk were instrumented by Russian agents. It is equally worth noting the procedure by which the Russian president announced this act, condemned by the international community, more precisely the context of the Duma session characterised by an intended scent of imperial pomp, sending the subliminal message that, in the often quoted words, “the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century” (i.e. the collapse of the USSR in 1991) starts being absorbed and the empire restored. Add to this propaganda flood which defies realities – as an unbiased observer might describe these statements about the government in Kiev and its legitimacy the fact that its chief is received by the President of the USA, Barack Obama, in the Oval Office of the White House? – the possibility that the military aggression was made by masked people supported by tanks (identical to those that equip the Russian army) named ‘self-defence forces’ of the locals, as if they were prohibited wearing identification marks, and wore hoods from fear of “fascists.”

It is thus understandable why the international community condemned such acts as belonging to the 19th Century, outlining a brutal use of force in support of a territorial rapt, a return to long gone times, before the codification in the international law of the international behaviour of states, which condemn the military aggression, the compulsoriness of resorting to dialogue and the mediation of international organisations in case of infringements of human rights, oppression or violation of minorities. Nothing – it was demonstrated in these generalised statements of the international public opinion – can justify using such condemnable procedures in today’s world, especially by a big power invested in theory and practice with a heavy burden of international responsibility, such as the case of Russia.
In the same context it is worth mentioning that Moscow uses in its argumentative dossier the evocation of the Kosovo precedent. First, there is a crucial question about what Russia want to convey this way: is this a legal argument – the force of the precedent – or an advice to others using the same method?; does Moscow overtly challenge the territorial order established by the system, which it guarantees alongside others since the end of the Second World War? Second, as it is known, the independence of Kosovo was legitimised not only through the recognition by a large number of states, but also through a decision of legality issued by the international court of Hague. Citing – as Russia does today – only the separate opinions against this decision ignores the way of functioning of this court that relies on the verdict of the majority of legal experts.
There is also another worrying matter that makes the present crisis very particular and dangerous. The accusations brought by Kremlin to the West, in general, in a wording without precedent since the end of the Cold War. The Russian president attacked “the western partners, starting with the USA,” because they “prefer, in their practical policies, to rely not on international law but on the right of the strong,” “they came to believe in being the chosen, in their exclusivity, in being allowed to determine the world’s destinies, in always being right. They act as they choose: Here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions on the principle of whoever is not for us is against us.” In this context he mentioned the bombing of Belgrade by NATO, the actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the orange revolutions or the ‘Arab spring’ that occurred after 11 September 2001. And President Putin added: “In the case of Ukraine, our Western partners crossed the line,” thus blaming the West of instrumenting the recent events in Kiev and stating that there is a “red” line which Russia will not allow being crossed: “Russia found itself at a line from which it could no longer retreat. If you press a spring to the maximum, it will someday uncoil forcefully.”
We are thus faced with a special kind of crisis, which directly implies a nuclear superpower, whose action can slide toward systemic confrontation or having as consequence the start of an overt of covert/confidential process of redrawing the global order with everything it implies.

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