Pro-Russia protesters hold a banner reading, “Russia won’t forget us! Crimea was and will be Russian!” outside the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea in Simferopol
The situation unfolding in Crimea has a counterpart, a historical analogue… Texas. A comparison of Crimea with Texas will prove the relative similarities between the two, arguing that if one accepts the current status of Texas despite its controversial origin, then they are more than obliged to recognise the future status of the Crimea, since historical evolution there have more legitimacy than those which transpired in Texas over 150 years ago.
Originally, Texas was part of México from 1821-1836. Prior to independence, American frontiersmen rapidly colonised the region and soon outnumbered the native inhabitants. Eventually, they agitated for independence from México and wanted to join the USA. Performing a structural analysis, one can see strong parallels between the American demographic deluge in Texas and the Albanian one in Serbia over a century later (which took slightly longer to do). In both cases, non-native citizens overwhelmed the local inhabitants and pursued separatist motives against the central government. Primarily based on self-identification, the Americans in Mexican Texas and Albanians in Kosovo didn’t feel part of the states they’d moved to, and they thus enacted provocations against those respective governments. Through a downward spiralling series of events, war broke out and both entities would later become independent. Texas earned its own independence, whereas Kosovo depended on the 19 then-members of NATO to sever it from Serbia. Texas would later be absorbed into the USA per the American domestic legal framework to do so (which incidentally triggered the most geographically expansive war in North American history in 1846), whilst Kosovo was NATO’s first out-of-theatre war and remains “independent” of Albania and its EU/NATO patrons in name only.
The situation is somewhat similar in Crimea, yet at the same time, altogether different. Certainly, there are more Russians living there than Ukrainians and Tatars, as there came to be more Americans in Texas and Albanians in Kosovo, but it wasn’t the result of a demographic deluge. The Russians in Crimea lived there for centuries ever since Yekaternia Velikaya liberated it from Turkish suzerainty in 1774 (two years before the American Declaration of Independence). Crimea remained a part of the Russian state in some form or another until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchyov, the ethnic Ukrainian leader of the USSR, unilaterally handed it over to the Ukrainian SSR. At the time, its movement from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR was simply administrative, as both entities were part of the USSR. As such, the ethnic Russians there did not feel separate from the state, but rather retained their affinity towards the governing centre.
In 1991, the Russian majority in the Crimea found themselves in a foreign country with the unexpected collapse of the USSR and the Ukraine’s independence. Nonetheless, they didn’t agitate for independence or union with Russia because they retained their rights within the state and they had a shared historical memory stretching back over 300 years. They may not have felt “Ukrainian”, but they didn’t feel strong enough about this self-identification disconnect to secede from the country. It wasn’t until the revolutionary fascist coup in Kiev and the later discrimination, violence, and threats thereof by unelected coup-ocrats against ethnic Russians that questions of seceding on the grounds of humanitarian rights arose. Unlike the Kosovo scenario, the Russian community hadn’t provoked any violence upon themselves to present the structured narrative that they’re “victimised”. The Ukrainian coup activists initiated the violence on their own volition because of their fascist ideology.
American Texas and Albanian Kosovo fought bloody wars to become independent, but this has yet to occur in the Crimea. A small-scale low-intensity war of self-determination is in force, although it is largely peaceful. Ukrainian military units in Crimea switched their allegiance from the unelected fascist Kiev junta to democratic Simferopol and the region’s security apparatus proclaimed its loyalty to the people, not the putschists. What took blood, iron, and (in Kosovo) bombs to carry out for the American and Albanian community was mostly fulfilled through peaceful means by the Russian one. The residents of Crimea are even planning a referendum for 30 March about the future of their autonomous status, something that didn’t occur in the Texan or Kosovar scenarios. In parallel with Texas, the Crimea could also be legally absorbed into the state that it holds cultural affinity for via proposed Russian domestic legislation addressing addition of new territories.
Thus, the events in Crimea thus have shades of their Texas analogues, albeit with enhanced legitimacy when you compare the two. Americans flooded into Texas over a 15-year period, overwhelmed the locals, and, then, provoked and fought a war of independence. They didn’t hold a democratic referendum to decide their status within México, yet, after the fact of their independence, and their annexation by the USA, no one contests Texas’ status, and all sovereign states recognise it. The tragedy of Kosovo is absolutely illegitimate by all means, and many states rightly don’t recognise that its “independence” is legal. If Texas (with its dubious legitimate grounds for its former independence) can now be recognised as a beacon of American identity and an important part of the country, then the Crimea, through its legitimate actions during the current crisis, surely deserves the same level of recognition. Just as Texas is now a part of the USA and the “American Story”, so too can the Crimea become a part of Russia and the “Russian Story” in the years to come.
3 March 2014
Voice of Russia World Service