Staunton, July 13 – Even if Donald Trump doesn’t recognize as legitimate Vladimir Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea, the US president’s hints that he might do either because the Ukrainian peninsula’s residents speak Russia or because that might allow for “a deal” has undermined the global consensus about what Putin has done, Aleksandr Skobov says.
“Optimists continue to assert,” the Russian commentator says, “that the extravagant declarations of Trump about the theoretical possibility of recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea mean nothing” because the American political system is so constructed that it won’t allow the US to do so (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B47D3B525539).
But – and this is what is critical to understand, Skobov continues – Trump’s remarks about the possibility of recognizing as legitimate a fundamental violation of international law “undermines a fundamental principle of international stability – a consensus concerning the prohibition of annexations.”
Today, he says, “it is already obvioius that the chances for the peaceful return of Crimea to Ukraine almost no longer exist.” And that in turn means that “Crimea will be returned only by military force.” That conflict can remain local if the leading world powers maintain what had been their consensus; it will not happen at all or spread more widely if they don’t.
The destruction of this broad consensus on Crimea, a destruction in which Trump has played a key role regardless of what he may say or do in Helsinki, has “two global consequences,” Skobov says. “first, it makes impossible a local military operation to expel Putin from Crimea.”
And “second, it makes inevitable the drift of the world toward global war of all against all in the next several years.” And that war need not be over Crimea; but the change of attitudes about Crimea that Trump is working to bring about will mean that this bigger war when it happens will have its roots in Crimea and in Trump’s remarks about it.
That is because, the commentator argues, “when everyone understands that the prohibition on annexations as the fundamental principle of international stability has ceased to work,” they will decide that previous “’red lines’” against doing something similar elsewhere no longer have any meaning and their actions in that regard will lead to a new world war.
That is what Trump has contributed to, and that is the real meaning of his words about Crimea, whatever happens between him and Putin in Helsinki.
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