The timeline of the Ukrainian “crisis” — as it is being called — in brief, follows this course of events: After a series of anti-protest laws passed by the Ukrainian parliament in January, large scale demonstrations erupt in the capital at the end of February, calling for the ousting of pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Following the massive outbreak of violence, Yanukovych disappears, later resurfacing in Russia. Crimea, historically Russian, then declares its separation from the Ukraine as several pro-Russia gunmen start taking over key facilities in Crimea’s largest cities. Squads of unmarked armed troops begin appearing in Crimea’s capital, denying to be there on behalf of the Russian military in face of much evidence to the contrary, including speaking Russian and wielding Russian arms. With overwhelming support from its citizens, Crimea declares itself a separate entity from Ukraine, and only days later is annexed as part of Russia.
No one can deny the illegitimacy of Putin’s actions. He broke Ukrainian sovereignty by landing troops in borders beyond his own without the consent of the government. The Crimean government thought it best to once again be a part of Russia, in order to protect the majority of its people that are ethnically Russian. In this context secession was inevitable.
Secessions aren’t the easiest of affairs to manage, and more often than not, involve undue amounts of bloodshed. The United States, with its own blood-stained past, underwent a civil war which saw the greatest loss of its people’s lives of any other conflict over the issue of secession.
Given these precedents, I believe Russia chose the best course of action within the parameter of saving human lives, despite acting outside the bounds of proper international conduct. The history of human civilization has seen the arbitrary demarcation points known as borders, dividing people rather than encouraging community, change again and again. In most of these instances, a conquering army has gone in and slaughtered the people indigenous to that area only to claim it in the name of their empire. Then is it so bad that these borders have once again changed, but this time with peaceful outcome? Is it too much to ask to be happy not to see the slaughter of innocents?
I think a message ought to be sent to Putin that his apparent imperialistic sentiments cannot be tolerated in the 21st century. Russia has expanded, and America has responded as it would in any other decade of the 20th century, by declaring to be vehemently opposed to the action. Nothing has really changed, except the method by which the expansion has occurred. I can sleep well knowing that.