Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Declaring 1953 Crimea Transfer Illegal Could Spark War along Entire Periphery of Russia, Zubov Says

Paul Goble
            Staunton, December 24 – A proposal by Valentina Matvienko to declare the Soviet government’s 1954 transfer of Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR “illegal” could “lead to war not only between Ukraine and Russia but practically along the entire perimeter of the present-day Russian Federation, according to Andrey Zubov.
            Such a proposal, the historian and commentator says, not only violates international law but also “good sense.” That is because the decision to transfer Crimea was “taken in another state, the Soviet Union, and by two of its republics,” not by the Russian Federation, which did not exist then and thus had no role in it (
            Were Moscow to follow Matvienko’s notion, the country would “enter onto the path of absolute legal chaos as far as territorial issues are concerned.”  The USSR changed the borders of the republics many times – at least 90 by one count, and thus “if [Moscow] considers [Soviet actions] illegal, then this means that all its actions are illegal – including the establishment of the USSR in 1922.”
            And even if such a declaration were narrowly drawn, it would inevitably raise questions about how Moscow will proceed in the future, questions that could not fail to agitate the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia’s current allies, not necessarily about occupation but rather about such “legally inadequate attempts” to justify things ex post facto.

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