The thing about manipulators is that they use doubt, confusion, and unknowns to make you question whether you are being influenced by preconceived notions or are being manipulated by others. With Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrating the Russian holiday Victory Day in Crimea, his actions and words betray the truth, i.e. the annexation of Crimea was orchestrated by Russia, which is why it is being hailed as a victory. Not only did Putin frame the seizure of Crimea as a “legal interest” of Russia and “historic justice in today’s various remarks, he proclaimed he respects the interests of other nations, which he probably does until there is any conflict of interests with Russian interests.
Although the People of Crimea have the right to self-rule, i.e. they have the right to democratically elect their officials, protest the policies of their leaders, and change the structure of their government through processes that respect the interest of all its People, the territory of Crimea was given to Ukraine by a legitimate leader of Russia decades ago while Russia agreed, at end of the Cold War, that Crimea was part of Ukraine. In other words, the individual (liberal) rights of the Crimean People to self-rule do not outweigh the national rights of the Ukrainian state to maintain its territorial integrity, which is a right Russia has always fiercely defended.
That said, even if there was a legal procedure for the People of Crimea to declare the independence of the Crimean territory, they did not have the patience to setup such a process. Russia, of course, wasted no time in immediately annexing Crimea. The fact is that Crimea and Russia had little, if any, desire to “liberate” Crimea, until Russia lost its control over the Ukrainian political process. Given the political forces Putin cultivated in Donetsk, which he may or may not directly control, his overall goal is likely to annex Ukraine piece by piece or leave the former Soviet State so small it will never be a perceived threat to Russia. At any rate, actions speak louder than words and Putin’s action best fit the Western interpretation of the Ukrainian Crisis.
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