EU will not recognize Crimean anschluss ‘in this Millenium,’ Mogherini says



Article by: Paul Goble

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, commenting on Russia’s annexation of Crimea, says that “we will never accept the change of borders by force. Neither now nor in this century nor in this millennium.” But she adds that there should not be any limitson political dialogue with Moscow concerning the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.

This position, she says, “does not mean that we must not talk. We must talk, and the Ukrainians also must talk with the Russians. And my role, Mogherini says, “does not mean that I must be soft, but even to be tough, I must talk.”

And this position about border changes means, she continues, that the sanctions the EU has imposed “are connected with the situation on the ground. Therefore sanctions can be changed depending on the situation and either reduced or increased. Or not changed at all if there are no changes.”

The EU position is, of course, welcome: it demonstrates that Brussels remains in step with the United States whose leaders have also declared that they will never recognize the forcible annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. But it may have one consequence that few in the West are thinking about now.

By basing its position on the principle, known as the Stimson Doctrine, that countries must “never accept the change of borders by force,” the EU position may open the door to an idea that has been circulation in the Russian blogosphere in recent days – namely, the possibility of having another referendum in Crimea with international observers present.

Were such a referendum to be held and were it to be declared to have met international standards, something many in Europe might be inclined to do, that would open the door to two developments that would threaten rather than strengthen the international order that Mogherini says she is defending.

On the one hand, such a new referendum could be presented by those in the West who want to restart relations with Moscow as the basis for recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, even though no referendum now, given the way in which the occupation has created new facts on the ground of that Ukrainian peninsula, could ever be truly legitimate.

And on the other, by implicitly raising such a possibility in the case of Crimea, Mogherini intentionally or not may have encouraged still more reckless actions by Putin. He may believe that he can invade and occupy parts or all of neighboring countries and then gain the acquiescence of the West which will be encouraged to “look beyond” any particular crime.

Those dangers point to the need for the elaboration of a more carefully crafted policy of non-recognition of the Russian Anschluss of Crimea. That action violated not only the Stimson Doctrine but also Russia’s own commitments in the Budapest Memorandum and other post-1991 agreements.

The West’s policy of non-recognition of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ultimately worked not just because it rejected any acceptance of the use of force to change international boundaries but because it insisted that the governments that occupation overthrew remained de jure if not de facto in office.

Western countries should be crafting a similar non-recognition policy now, one that doesn’t give Putin a loophole which the Kremlin leader is all too likely to jump through given the large number of people in Western capitals who want to find “a way forward” in which Putin can “save face.”

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  1. Avatar João Pedro Santos says:

    A referendum can only be valid in Ukrainian rule, and after all Ukraine has been allowed to vote on their local and national leaders. A referendum in such conditions in 2023 would be acceptable for me, but not in any other circumstances. And the same is valid for Moldova or Georgia

  2. Avatar Czech Friend says:

    Ukraine needs to present its case very badly. It seems even European public is starting to lose interest and takes the war situation as normal now.

    There needs to be bullet proof factual evidence of Russian illegal involvement in Eastern Ukraine. Just what is OSCE doing in this matter I don’t have a clue.

    How come we do not have many reports from the East or even bordercrossings with Russia?
    Sending a special reconaissance army unit to document Russian military activities should be top priority for Ukrainian government and ther partners. It may be sure things for Ukrainians but it is still not for many Europeans. I understand some information needs to be kept secret in the time of war but others need to be revealed as soon as they can and need to be strong and persuasive.

    And because Kremlin is using mafia style/ state terrorism tactics such as with case of Nadya Savchenko abduction, there shoud be an equal yet covert response targeting family members of Kremlin leadership who live in Europe and US. Perhaps with Putin’s or Lavrov’s daughter in “custody” there could be a breakthrough in cases representing blatant abomination of International law by Russians.

    I know it’s tough but you must not lose any momentum Ukraine and you have to bring up proof or Russia’s criminal activity before it’s too late.

    1. Avatar Mephisto says:

      Only a complete moron or a russian propaganda troll would doubt Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine. The Western secret services must know for sure without a doubt. It is a problem of politicians. They practise appeasement just like in 1938. And do not forget the Russian agents in Europe, such as Mr. Zeman or Mr. Klaus or Mr. Faymann

      1. Avatar Czech Friend says:

        maybe western politicians are afraid to expose of all they know about Russia’s involvement but that means Ukraine has to do it precisely to counter Putin’s propaganda aimed not at bringing Europeans on Russian side but abandoning any interest in the conflict and leaving Ukraine for the bear himself.