Monday, March 18, 2019

Putin’s Crimean Actions All about Being Able to Violate Commitments with Impunity, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 18 – A state, if it is really a state “must keep its word,” Aleksandr Skobov says; but Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea and his continuing celebration of that act is about showing that he and Russia can violate any commitments they make and do so with impunity – clear evidence that the Russian Federation is “a state of rats.”

            The Russian commentator reiterates in his latest Grani commentary that “the annexation of Crimea by Russia has set in motion a mechanism which is pushing the world toward a major war.” That is because “the categorical prohibition on annexations” by the unilateral use of force is the keystone of the current international order (

            Those who violate this principle without reflecting on its broader consequences are “at a minimum, apes with grenades,” Skobov says.

            “State borders are not eternal, and all of them are in one degree or another unjust and can be disputed. They can be reviewed. And their legitimacy is defined by international recognition.”  But the fundamental meaning of Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea is to show Moscow’s ability to “ignore the rules and opinions of the international community” as well as its own commitments.

            It was and remains a revolt by “the Kremlin’s empire against the world community, against humanity” and a sign Moscow cannot be counted on to keep its word about anything. After all, it committed itself to Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Kyiv giving up nuclear weapons – and then, having pocketed that, turned on Ukraine with a vengeance.

            There are, of course, extreme circumstances when a government’s behavior toward its own people justify ignoring international law about the inviolability of borders and national sovereignty. But Kyiv’s behavior in Crimea, Moscow’s claims notwithstanding, never rose to that. Instead Moscow simply acted as it wanted in violation of law and its own promises.

            The Putin regime and its supporters “simply wanted to show the world” that Moscow can do what it wants and that there won’t be any serious consequences, the actions of gangsters and rats rather than a civilized state, Skobov says; and something that will lead to even worse excesses if it is not challenged and reversed.

            The infection of “Crimea is Ours” is a serious illness dangerous both for those around and its carriers,” he continues. It helps feed a drive toward empire unconstrained by international law.  The West must decide on what therapy it will use to cure this disease in Russia, but cure it, the West must or it will face ever greater disasters.

            And Russians have an interest in curing it as well. Unless this disease is overcome, Skobov argues, “Russian society is doomed to degradation and wildness.” That is because underlying the “Crimea is ours” psychosis is “a condescending attitude toward lies and shameful behavior” towards others first but also toward oneself.

            Indeed, that is “one of the main civilizational aspects of the much-ballyhooed ‘Russian world,’ alongside a proclivity toward division, an inability to show solidarity, a bestial egoism, a lack of belief in anything but loot and crude force, and contempt for human dignity and life itself.”

            “A people that oppresses others cannot be free. A people who permits itself to lie and ignore all the rules cannot be free. And a people which allows itself to behave like rats can’t either,” Skobov concludes.

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