Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Russia’s UN Veto over Crimea

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 15th March, 2014

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At the UN Security Council in New York Russia has vetoed a resolution denouncing tomorrow’s planned referendum in Crimea. China abstained. But the clear majority view within the international community is that the referendum is illegitimate and that moreover Russia’s increasingly belligerent stand-off with Ukraine is the most serious threat to European security since the end of the Cold War. The European Union and the US have rightly warned Moscow that economic sanctions and other punitive measures could be imposed against key Russian figures unless President Putin backs off, but he seems to be on a roll, basking in the support of Russian nationalists and a significant proportion of the population of Crimea itself. Crimea was ceded to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev during the old Soviet days, but as there were no internal borders between the different republics of the Soviet Union that did not make much difference. These days Russia and Ukraine are two separate countries, however, and the demonstrators who occupied Kiev’s Independence Square from last November onwards made clear their preference for an EU-oriented future rather than one ties to Russia’s apron-strings. In advance of tomorrow’s vote, an attempted incursion by Russian helicopters was made into the Ukrainian district of Kherson, which is not part of Crimea and which represents a serious escalation. Frantic diplomatic efforts are still going on to try get the Russians to calm the situation, but the UNSC vote does feel like a return to the old days of East-West standoff. However, there two important differences worth noting. These days Moscow does not have a group of satellite states to support it; indeed, Poland and the Baltic States (the latter once part of the Soviet Union) have been strong in their criticism of Putin’s moves. And secondly, although there were, predictably, some demonstrations in Russia lauding Putin’s machismo, several tens of thousands went into the street of Moscow today to protest against what is happening.

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2 Responses to “Russia’s UN Veto over Crimea”

  1. I hold no brief for Putin’s Russia but how can a Liberal ignore the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine? Not only is the west willing to turn a blind eye to a coup it is also turning a blind eye to the composition of the ragbag coalition that has replaced it (unfortunately, Putin is right that it includes neo-fascists). While the Crimea referendum may be hasty and held against an unstable background at least it is a decision that someone is attempting to make through the ballot box. It would be better if the UN sent observers rather cold shouldering it. We are in grave danger of inviting Putin onto the moral high ground with our policies.

  2. jonathanfryer said

    Coup or Revolution? History will decide. What is certain is that the Referendum is illegitimate under International Law, that foreign observers (OSCE) have been specifically excluded, foreign journalists harassed and significant sections of the population intimidated. There are unsavoury groups on both sides of the Ukrainian divide, to the extent that no-one can claim the moral high ground, least of all Vladimir Putin.

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