Saturday, December 8, 2018

Russians Will Celebrate Return of Crimea to Ukraine If Putin Tells Them To, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 8 – The possibility that Vladimir Putin will return two or more of the Kurile Islands the Soviet Union seized at the end of World War II in exchange for a peace treaty with Japan has an important lesson for the world about Crimea: Russians will celebrate its return to Ukraine if Putin or his successor in the Kremlin tells them to, Vitaly Portnikov says.

            Too many people assume that Russians have always wanted to “take back” Crimea and that they will never yield territory to Japan or anyone else, the Ukrainian analyst continues. But in fact, while a few do care about these things, most will follow the Kremlin line wherever it leads (

                If Putin does decide to hand back the Kuriles to Japan, he continues, “the population will have to unanimously approve this decision of the boss and not protest. And they will approve it, have no doubt,” Portnikov says.  They will celebrate this great act of statesmanship and dismiss the questions of any foreign journalist who may inquire about how they feel.

            To the question as to how they can put up with a loss of territory, they will answer “’on the other hand, we have peace with Japan,’ ‘on the other hand, we have investments,’” or simply “’you are a provocateur,’ ‘Russia is a generous soul,’ and what is most important, ‘this isn’t ours!’”

            Exactly the same thing would occur with Crimea, Portnikov continues. “No one should doubt it.” When Putin or his successor decide to return Crimea to Ukraine “to achieve the normalization of relations with the West and ‘the eternal friendship with a fraternal country,’” a few will protest and they will be dispersed by force.

            Despite expectations, “the rating of the ruler on the day of handing over Crimea to Ukraine will rise to the heavens,” and Russians will celebrate what he has done – and they’ll use exactly the same terms that will be used about the Kuriles.  After all, that is what Russians will be told to think by television.

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