Referring to the recent op-ed by Professor Kishore Mahbubani at the Straits Times and some comments that followed the publication in the context of Russia’s role in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, we deem necessary to clarify the following:
1) The Eastern and Central European nations joined NATO – the collective defense alliance – as they knew Russia very well. Russia didn’t bully them because they joined NATO – it was the other way around.
Moscow’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and later aggression in Ukraine in violation of Russia’s numerous commitments and agreements, pushed the neighboring countries to reconsider security preferences and liabilities. In the case of Ukraine, ever since Tuzla island incident of 2003, the need for alternative security counterbalance, instead of “fraternal” security guarantees, was realized full well in Kyiv.
2) What the Crimean episode really showed was Russian attempt to humiliate the international law and order.
The claim that Putin “was left with no choice but to take back Crimea” is an insult the international law - the very notion of a world where occupying a foreign land is the only option left is startling. Following the international law and observing treaties is always a choice.
The so-called “Crimean referendum” was conducted under the occupation by the Russian military. In the eyes of the international law it was a travesty – it never even pretended to meet internationally accepted standards. As for Gorbachev’s comments that "people really wanted to return to Russia", given a choice, 95.5 per cent of the voters elected to join Russia", one may find out that approximately the same number of votes received by Hitler during the 1938 Anschluss of Austria.
Under the similar circumstances.
How far back into history can one go to justify current political ambitions with “historical” comparisons of this kind? Any reminiscence from the past might be cited, but the one fitting in this narrative is the 1944 massive deportation of Crimean Tatars into the steppes of Central Asia, as well as other crimes committed and kept in secret by the soviet rotten authoritarian regime.
In this context, one may find interesting the recently published UN Human Rights Office report on human rights situation in Crimea indicating that the situation has dramatically deteriorated under Russian occupation, with “multiple and grave violations” committed by Russian state agents - http://bit.ly/2fspg3P
3) Referring to some comments related to the publication, that “Russia’s Armed Forces stationed in Crimea in line with the international agreement” is the attempt of disinformation and distortion of the reality:
The TRUTH is that the referred international agreement between Russia and Ukraine, and other related documents, stipulated a specified number of Russian military personnel and locations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian Crimea. The reality was - “green men” without insignia swarming the semi-peninsula and marching in the occupied Crimea in February 2014.
It is noteworthy that according to the mentioned international agreement Russia guaranteed RESPECT for sovereignty and inviolability of Ukraine’s borders.
In addition, Russia has violated 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the UN document that provided explicit security assurances and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty within its existing borders.