Crimea’s Demonstration Effect in Asia
March 24, 2014
Vladimir Putin is a threat to Asia. Let me explain why. His invasion of Georgia in 2008 and now Ukraine are blatant acts of aggression. Placing troops in Crimea is a violation of the sovereignty of another nation and reflects a desire on the part of Putin to re-establish some sense of preeminence enjoyed by the Soviet Union before its breakup. Of course, the referendum in Crimea last weekend dresses up Russian actions in the language of self-determination, but this is a blatant violation of international rules and norms.
What is most frustrating is that there is little that the United States can do to counter these actions. Washington can condemn Russia. It can refuse tok recognize the referendum in Crimea. The United States can push for sanctions. It can invite Ukrainian leaders to the White House and take pictures with them. But in the end, Russia gets what it wants, largely because it has a higher level of commitment to the issue, while the United States does not. The United States is not going to go to war with Russia over Crimea.
So why should this matter for Asia?
*An earlier version of this article first appeared on March 20, 2014 in Joongang Ilbo, available online at http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2986624.