Editorial: Estonia 1940, Crimea 2014

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.

Russia openly initiates incorporation of Crimea.

Yesterday, the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea decided the region is joining Russian Federation. Already, vice premier Rustam Temirgalijev of the local government – illegal in the eyes of Ukraine’s central power – was making declaration regarding the upcoming switch to rouble, and nationalisation of Ukrainian state assets. On March 16th a referendum is scheduled to take place, meant to formalise Crimea’s merger into Russia.

To discuss the application by Crimea, President Putin convened Russian security council. Sergei Mironov, a leader of a party in the «loyal opposition» in the Duma, promised that next week a law will be discussed to simplify annexing new regions to Russia.

For the international community, there exists but one explicit evaluation of the situation. Any decision to alter statehood of Crimea whether in its local parliament or at a referendum, with Russian occupation forces present, is null and void, illegal and without any legitimacy whatsoever to begin with.

Russia must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and pull the unidentified «polite people» units back into the contractual bases or out of Ukraine. Intervention into Ukraine’s internal affairs, by force of arms and intimidation, must stop. To ease tensions, observers of international organisations are to be allowed into Crimea. Yesterday, however, armed individuals hindered the observers of a 40-member OECD mission from entering the region; the day before yesterday, a UN representative was threatened there.

For the time being, no sign of lenience from Moscow. On the contrary: the events in Crimea increasingly resemble what was organised by the Soviet Union, in 1940, in the Baltics. True. No Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact has been entered, nor are we having a World War; in all else, the parallels are obvious. In the summer of 1940, a spectacle at least was arranged with the Baltic States, with delegations travelling to Moscow asking to be included in the USSR – now, this seems unnecessary.

Yesterday, USA announced asset freeze and visa ban regarding Russian officials linked to breach of Ukrainian sovereignty, though this stops short of the highest level – President Putin. European Union is still in waiting mode with the more serious sanctions.

Surely it would be a lot better if the situation could be solved without Ice Age setting in over European-Russian relations. Even so, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is unacceptable and the EU cannot just look upset while continuing business as usual.

At that, sanctions should be aimed at the imperial-minded power elite, not the common Russian man who is innocent as can be.