So what is the legal foundation that supports a people’s right to self-determination? The absolute supremacy of a country’s Constitution? Or does a higher consensus of what’s right or best for all prevail? We can’t cry about the Rule of Law when we so easily ignore it when it suits our needs—a “pre-emptive” war and invasion of Iraq anyone? So neither Russia nor the U.S. can in good faith ignore our past inconsistencies and meddling in other’s affairs. The entire concept of sovereignty remains as loose as it has been throughout history.
Is Russia’s Vladimir Putin acting irrationally? Unreasonably perhaps, but irrationally no. He has seen an opportunity and taken it, the question that remains is at what cost? Putin is living partly in the past and clearly desires a Russian Federation that is the equal of the United States in every way. The reality he must face is that Russia is no longer a superpower on equal footing with the U.S., in any way. And as much as it hurts Mr. Putin—the ever loyal KGB Lieutenant—it is not likely to become so anytime soon.
While strategically important to Russia, the Black Sea Fleet (Washington Post) in Sevastopol is not particularly formidable. First, and most obvious, the entire fleet is bottled in the Black Sea, and NATO members Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and Hungary can easily keep it there. Furthermore, as noted in the Washington Post article, “Russian forces in Ukraine: What does the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea look like?”
As a war-fighting force, it’s not particularly impressive. Its main vessel was basically built to fight other ships and so is only useful in fighting a naval war. It’s got the Moskva, an aging guided-missile cruiser; a large anti-submarine warfare cruiser — very dated; a destroyer and two frigates, which are more versatile; landing ships; and a diesel attack submarine. It’s not a particularly powerful force. The Italian navy alone could easily destroy it.Mark Galeotti, NYU Professor & Security Expert
No one knows how this will end, but I predict that Crimea will very soon be a part of the Russian Federation, and aside from squawking and limited personal financial sanctions, we are going to have to take this and like it. Putin does not wish a military conflict, but he is willing to stir the pot to the highest level, and create as much agitation and tension as possible to obtain Crimea. He is a crafty devil, however he will not attempt to expand his ambitions beyond Crimea; if he does, he understands that such action would be an entirely different story.
We do all now live in an interdependent world, and the EU can no more afford to economically isolate Russia than we can. Most of the EU trades heavily with Russia across all industries, as do many U.S. companies.