> what is the concern about Russia ruling Crimea versus Ukraine?
1) Brutal Repression of everything that isn’t Russian. (See http://romaninukraine.com/dear-daniel-mcadams-who-is-ethnic-cleansing/)
2) Violation of the Budapest Memorandum — Ukraine gave up about 2,400 nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise of recognition of its borders by Russia, the US, and the UK.
3) Crimeans voted (albeit by a narrow majority 55%) to join Ukraine when it became independent in 1991. Surveys from 2013 showed no interest in returning to Russia.
4) $1 Billion in property transfers occurred since Russians took over, including takeovers of huge private businesses. (This is how Russia works. Everything is controlled by a criminal organization that’s led by the Kremlin.)
5) Future Conflict. Crimea is completely dependent upon Ukraine for water, energy, food, commerce.
> Second, what if it is factually true that more people in Crimea prefer to be ruled by Russia than by Ukraine–is that possibly true, and, if so, is it irrelevant?
Of course it’d be relevent, though it’d still raise the issues of forced transfers of population (to achieve majority) and brutal repression of minorities.
In 1948 all the Crimean Tartars (ALL of them) were deported and the area was resettled by Russia. Estimates of the % of Tartars killed during the deportation ranges from 20% to 60%. Yes the area already had a population of Russians but a lot of them were transferred there after the ethnic cleansing. Many were transferred against their will too.
Despite the ethnic cleansing and resettlement, support for Russia, while significant, was a minority view:
IRI Survey from 2013:
40 to 45% of Crimeans considered their identity to be Russian.
23 to 33% favored joining Russia.
In 2013, 12% rated relations with Russia as one of the top three issues (from a list of 17).
Interestingly, only 60% of Crimeans used the internet at least once a month.
Also, Crimea was the only region of Ukraine that had a special autonomous status. It was already a quasi country. Historically, local autonomy seems to be the way to handle such situations (Kashmir, N Ireland).
What if a majority of Chechens want to secede from Russia? (75,000-250,000 civilians were killed in that war, out of a population of only 5 million)
> Third: Isn’t it the case that under Putin’s rule Russian GDP per person has doubled or tripled, and taxes have been slashed?
Most (65% if I remember correctly) of the Russian govt’s income is from the sale of fossil fuels. The price ballooned under Putin.
I think we have to talk about mass murder (Chechnya), completely non-existant property rights or rule of law before we talk about taxes.
> Fourth, what of the arguments that Russia has some claim to Crimea under international law?
I don’t know what they are. If they’re worth while, we should discuss them, but you have to understand how hard Russian propaganda works to destroy the very idea of truth. They’ll make so much noise and give every group of people (for example, libertarians) the queues to believe the useful things that group’s intution tells them to believe. They ridicule the notion of truth by making truth seem like the least interesting of a long list of equally valid theories.
Recently, they claimed that Obama fired an American general for refusing to do a nuclear first strike against Moscow.
In Russian civilization, there is no shame in lying (http://romaninukraine.com/worth-repeating-in-russia-there-is-no-shame-in-lying-putin-on-crimea/). Westerners don’t understand this. On one hand, I can’t imagine it lasting. I would expect then to eventually revolt (following Ukraine’s example). On the other, everyone who has the ability to revolt seems to be in exile, and the propaganda there is so goddamn strong.
> What really, is the big fear–that Russia will annex Ukraine and other neighboring countries, and then impose laws that make people worse off than they are under Ukraine? Is Ukraine supposed to be some kind of more-liberal state than Russia?
Yes, yes, and yes.
They will only stop when they forced to stop (for fear of their weakness being revealed to their domestic population). And they won’t really stop. They’ll pause and plan ahead for the expected collapse of the West’s financial system in 4-6 years time.
People will be worse off because Russia will kill a lot of them, rob all the aristoracts, disrupt civil society, and elevate some local ganger to a position of power and status in exchange for loyalty. They’ll impose brutal Russification policies as they’ve done in Crimea and Donbas.
Dugin has called for genocide in Ukraine. Putin claims Ukraine does not exist. Within living memory (the 1920s and 30s) they killed up to 25% of all Ukrainians.
Is Ukraine more Liberal than Russia? Here’s an appeal from the Libertarian Party of Russia– http://libertarian-party.ru/blog/an-appeal-to-western-libertarians-about-the-war-in-ukraine