Russia Should Follow U.S. Example in Eastern Ukraine

Russia should respond to the situation in the Ukraine by following the precedent set by the United States in a comparable situation. Russia should offer to purchase the Russian populated areas whose residents want to leave Ukraine much like the United States purchased California from Mexico.

In the 1840’s people from the United States had settled in parts of Mexico, but were not happy with the Mexican government. U.S. citizens in the Texas region had openly revolted and gained independence from Mexico. People in California were also interested in leaving Mexico. The United States annexed Texas and a border dispute led to war between the United States and Mexico. The United States won the war but instead of simply taking other territory from Mexico forced Mexico to sell California and additional areas to the United States. The United States also assumed some debts that Mexico owed to U.S citizens.

The Russians in the eastern Ukraine don’t want to be part of Ukraine any more than the U.S. citizens in California and Texas wanted to be part of Mexico. Russia should help them leave by offering to purchase the region from Ukraine once the people of Ukraine vote for a new government. Government officials chosen in an election have authority from the people to act. Officials who came to power as a result of mob action have no authority from the people to act.

Russia should also consider compensating Ukraine for the its loss of Crimea. The separation of Crimea from Ukraine was comparable to a divorce. Often one party to a divorce will compensate the other by paying alimony to the other/ Russia could undermine claims that it “stole” Crimea by paying alimony to Ukraine. Paying for something isn’t stealing.

The mob overthrow of a president from eastern Ukraine and talk of eliminating Russian as an official language indicates that many Ukrainians don’t want Russians in their country. The presences of racist elements in the anti-government mob indicates the overthrow may have been in part motivated by ethnic prejudice. Russians in Ukraine fear that failure to allow the Russian region to leave Ukraine could result in use of violence against them.

Failure to allow the Russian region to leave could lead to prolonged efforts against the Ukraine government. European ethnic conflicts [such as the Basque conflict in Spain and the conflict between Irish Catholics and English Protestants in Northern Ireland] can last for generations.

Americans tend to think of ethnic conflicts in terms of differences in skin color, but differences in culture can produce the same results as was the case in Adolf Hitler’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish people.

During the collapse of the Soviet empire, the residents of Czechoslovakia recognized that they would have a better chance of success if they split into two countries. Ukrainians made a mistake by keeping the arbitrary political boundaries set by the old Soviet Union. The Soviet Union to a large extent was a Russian empire. Keeping Russian regions in Ukraine means Ukrainians are still subject to control by politicians chosen in part by Russians. Eliminating the Russian regions from Ukraine would make Ukrainians truly independent of Russia.


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