By Artur P. Schmidt
Many Europeans think currently that Putin’s intervention is a throwback to the Cold War. But “wait a minute” : Was the Crimea not since Catherine the Great a Russian territory?
Yes, that is so after 1774, when Crimea (the Krym) became independent from the Ottoman Empire and increasingly dependent on the Russian Empire, and after it had been annexed under Grigori Potemkin of Russia, until Catherine II declared the Crimea on 8 April 1783 ” from now on and forever ” Russian territory.
Only after the Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet party leader, who then could not know that the USSR would fall apart later, the Crimea was affiliated to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. Is not also the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in the Crimea?
The new Ukrainian government should recognize perhaps that what Ukraine has achieved to date is more than what you could have hoped for a few weeks ago.
The demand to maintain the integrity of the Ukraine, especially in the eastern territories, seems to be legitimate and should be pursued under all circumstances, but in the Crimea there are historical facts on the side of the Russians.
A possible solution to the Krym crisis would be to declare Crimea, which is at the moment anyway an autonomous Republic within the Ukraine, as an independent state. Thus, both sides would benefit. Putin would keep his face and not be remembered in history as a cold-blooded macho aggressor and for the Ukrainians it opens the way to the European Community.
An independent Crimea State
The situation in the Ukraine is like a barrel with powder that could explode any time. A single wrong action – possibly a shot at the wrong place – could trigger a war, which would help no one. No war has ever solved a problem, but only created new problems. Therefore, the West should recognize that Putin’s right to protect Russian citizens in the Crimea is not as crazy as it at first might have appeared to some.
In 1917 after the October Revolution, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Tauride in the Crimea (Russian: Советская Социалистическая Республика Тавриды ) was founded, but right after the People’s Republic of Crimea again proclaimed it as an independent Crimean Tatar Republic.
Although the People’s Republic of Crimea (Crimean Tatar Qırım Halq Cumhuriyeti) was a short-lived state which existed only between December 1917 and 23 February 1918, that Republic was the first successful attempt in the Islamic world to establish a sovereign state.
In this historical development the key can be found to solve the present problem. Why not start the Crimea region again as an independent state?
Since the present state would mainly be inhabited by Russians, the Russian interests, especially in view of the Black Sea Fleet, could be adequately represented and an escalation of events could be prevented.
The independence of a new state of Crimea will be the price that Europe has to pay and which the UN has to accept, if the EU wants to integrate the Ukraine into the European Union and Community. When a war between brothers and sisters can be averted in a historical context, such price is worth it.
The situation in Crimea is a typical prisoner’s dilemma: Only a battering of the Gordian knot with the creation of an independent Crimea State is a sustainable solution for both sides, the Ukraine and Russia, and a chance to live a peaceful, cooperative future.
(*) Author Dr. Artur P. Schmidt can be reached via aa[AT]ecoterra.net