US Won't Recognize Crimea Referendum Results (And 3 Awkward Questions For West's Liberals)

Tyler Durden's picture

With a March 16th date set for Crimea's referendum (to confirm that the region, which has an ethnic Russian majority, is a part of Russia) and a few short days after Ukraine's Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is due to meet President Obama in the White House, Reuters reports that The United States will not recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia if residents of the region vote to leave Ukraine. Obama has said a referendum on Crimea would violate international law and the Ukrainian constitution... but this raise 3 awkward (and apparently hypocritical) questions on the right to self-determination.


Reuters reports that the US will not recognize Crimea's annexation (or implicitly their right to self-determination),

Tony Blinken, U.S. President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, said on CNN's "State of the Union" program that Russia would come under increased international pressure as a result of the referendum in Crimea.


"First, if there is an annexation of Crimea, a referendum that moves Crimea from Ukraine to Russia, we won't recognize it, nor will most of the world," Blinken said.


"Second, the pressure that we've already exerted in coordination with our partners and allies will go up. The president made it very clear in announcing our sanctions, as did the Europeans the other day, that this is the first step and we've put in place a very flexible and very tough mechanism to increase the pressure, to increase the sanctions."


Obama has said a referendum on Crimea would violate international law and the Ukrainian constitution.

Which as Yanis Varoufakis writes, raises three awkward questions for Western liberals...

Let us accept (as I do) the principle that national minorities have the right to self-determination within lopsided multi-ethnic states; e.g. Croats and Kosovars seceding from Yugoslavia, Scots from the UK, Georgians from the Soviet Union etc.

Awkward question no. 1: On what principle can we deny, once Croatia, Kosovo, Scotland and Georgia have come into being, the right of Krajina Serbs, of Mitrovica Serbs, of Shetland Islanders and of Abkhazians to carve out, if they so wish, their own nation-states within the newly independent nation-states in the areas where they constitute a clear majority?

Awkward question no. 2: On what principle does a western liberal deny the right of Chechens to independence from Russia, but is prepared to defend to the hilt the Georgians’ or the Ukrainians’ right to self-determination?

Awkward question no. 3: On what principle is it justifiable that the West acquiesced to the raising to the ground of Grozny (Chechnya’s capital), not to mention the tens of thousands of civilian deaths, but responded fiercely, threatened with global sanctions, and raised the spectre of a major Cold War-like confrontation over the (so far) bloodless deployment of undercover Russian troops in Crimea?

The above three questions are being asked not because I want to challenge the notion that Mr Putin is a dangerous despot. I have no doubt that he is. Indeed, I wear as a badge of honour the fact that I was in a minority of one in the Faculty Board meeting of the University of Athens in 2003, where I voted against the award of an honourary doctoral degree to Mr Putin by the University of Athens (denying the University the opportunity to state that the award had been unanimous, and thus incurring the wrath of most colleagues who had been ‘requested’ politely by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to honour Mr Putin during his visit to Athens).

My three awkward questions have two aims: To remind readers of the West’s unprincipled attitude toward ‘other’ people’s struggles and tragedies. And to explain, in part, why such unprincipled behavior by the proponents of democratic principles ends up denigrating not only these very principles but greatly reinforcing the power and influence of the Putins of this world as well.

Europe and the Ukraine

Ukrainians fought pitched battles against the security forces in Kiev’s main square to protest against the former President Yanukovic’s decision to back out of a deal that would seal the country’s partnership with the European Union. Why? Are they blind to the incongruities of the European Union?

No, they are not. However, Ukrainians are facing a different type of problem compared to those we Europeans do. Whatever bone we have to pick with Brussels, with the ECB etc. (and we have many!), the people of Kiev had other priorities. E.g. how to rid themselves of security forces that felt at liberty to torture and to kill; how to travel freely; how to live in a country where courts were not completely run by the same mafia that run the state apparatus. To them, the fact that democracy is on the wane in the Eurozone and Europe’s principles are becoming increasingly hollow, matters little: The EU, however fast it may be descending into democratic illegitimacy, still looks like Heaven through many Ukrainian eyes.

Having said that, the greatest tragedy for Ukrainians is that their highest hopes are resting on weak shoulders: the European Union’s!

‘Europe’s Foreign Policy’ are three words that only need to be stated to cause hilarity. For there is no such thing, in truth. Even the Franco-German axis has been shuttered by Libya, let alone the ambitious idea of a common foreign policy for a United Europe that can act as a bulwark helpful to the Ukraine.

While Libya was of minimal importance to Europe’s security, even if of crucial importance to the Libyans, Ukraine is crucial and Europe ought to tread very carefully. What worries me the most is that the seriousness of the Ukrainian crisis is in inverse proportion to Europe’s competence in the field of foreign policy. Brussels may be keen to expand its ‘authority’ Eastward but it is treading into dangerous territory, ill equipped to deal with the repercussions.

The United States, the IMF, Germany and the Ukraine

The Ukraine is, and was always going to be, the battleground between Russia’s industrial neo-feudalism, the US State Department’s ambitions, and Germany’s neo-Lebensraum policies. Various ‘Eurasianists’ see the crisis in Kiev as a great opportunity to promote a program of full confrontation with Russia, one that is reminiscent of Z. Brzezinski’s 1970s anti-Soviet strategy. Importantly, they also see the Ukraine as an excellent excuse to torpedo America’s role in normalising relations with Iran and minimising the human cost in Syria. At the same time, the IMF cannot wait to enter Russia’s underbelly with a view to imposing another ‘stabilization-and-structural-adjustment program’ that will bring that whole part of the former Soviet Union under its purview. As for Germany, it has its own agenda which pulls its in two different directions at once: securing as much of the former Soviet Union as part of its neo-Lebensraum strategy of expanding its market/industrial space Eastwards; while, at the same time, preserving its privileged access to gas supplies from Gazprom.

As for the White House itself, there is little doubt that both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry understand the limits of Western power and the danger that too much of a hawkish reaction to the events in the Ukraine will undermine their efforts vis-à-vis Syria and Iran, at a time when Iraq is being increasingly destabilised.


The bottom line, unfortunately, it would appear therefore that this referendum may well be the tipping point in this crisis. With a second city in Crimea revolting today, it would appear a foregone conclusion that the referendum will come down in favor of annexation which will pit Russia (forced to support its countrymen who it sees as having voted legally for self-determination) against US (cornered by comments on the legitimacy of the referendum and likely promises to Yatsnyuk) - we suspect March 16th will be the risk-off moment.

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skwid vacuous's picture

Will obama break out the matzoh for Yatsenyuk's visit?

Infinite QE's picture

Special parties will be held for him at the Federal Reserve.

SafelyGraze's picture

what russia could instead do is just make an Outright Purchase of crimea.

that would be fair.

the people of the sovereign territories of Alaska and Greater Louisiana 

SAT 800's picture

Good idea; a legal contract can just say, "one dollar and other valuable considerations".

zaphod's picture

Question #4, if these new nation states are able to vote themselves out and self determine their goverment, what is stopping any US state from the same? I've come to the conclusion that the only way to stop the Federal government monster is for various states to start leaving the union and properly starve the beast.

Pure Evil's picture

I wonder if the a-hole that wrote this article, if the shoe were on the other foot, and knowing everything we know about the Dictator Obama, if Obama was to receive an honorary degree from the University of Athens, would his vote be the same as it was for Putin?

Anusocracy's picture

I don't recognize the US government as legitimate.

Or any other.

Pegasus Muse's picture

Who gives a shiite what the perfidious Clown Boy Obama Regime recognizes or not. Most thinking Americans and people around the world sure don't. 

Keyser's picture

I'm sure Vlad is shaking in his shoes at the thought of the US not recognizing an annexed Ukraine. And now for my next joke. 


SWRichmond's picture

 The United States will not recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia if residents of the region vote to leave Ukraine.

Isn't there a fort in Sevastopol harbor that the Crimeans can shoot at or something?  Then Lincoln Obama can invade and then send in the carpetbaggers.  Oh wait, the looting of Ukraine has already begun.

macholatte's picture



Do as I say, not as I do, and do it now.

--  Barry Sotero


stopthejunk1's picture

Paul Craig Roberts is right on some things, but he goes too far, so far that he basically makes himself a loon and, like Bill Gertz or other paranoid commentors, cannot be taken seriously by sober people.

ThirdWorldDude's picture

"we suspect March 16th will be the risk-off moment."


Question: Who is we? Is it maybe the Soros founded Institute for New Economic Thinking where Varoufakis is currently Director of the division of Political Economy? Or perhaps The LBJ School of public affairs? I don't really get it; this fucker's entangled in so many NWO projecting "institutions" that it's hard to discern who we is... 

0b1knob's picture

"raising (sic) to the ground of Grozny" should be RAZING 

Moral relativism does not excuse poor gammar.

holmes's picture

It's simple. The US should just not interfere in the political/military activites of any Country in the Eastern Hemisphere. IT'S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS and it's no risk to our safety. Let's cut the military budget in 1/2 and make their main mission protecting the US borders. Maybe then McCain and the other assholes will be less inclined to stick their noses and other people's bodies where they don't belong.

chemystical's picture

"Let's cut the military budget in 1/2 and make their main mission protecting the US borders."

But then how will "we" maintain the reserve currency status of jewbux of all varieties?  That and petrojewbux need to be maintained at the point of guns abroad - little differently than it is maintained domestically when you consider it fundamentally.

US trade deficits also require that reserve currency status.  At interest, the US's trade cumulative deficits since Nixon travelled to China amount to $17 trillion dollars.  Now where have we heard that figure before?  Worse than being a debt slave, the US citizen also ships his job abroad in sacrifice to the mammon of demon seed sociopaths.


Wahooo's picture

The jews will just have to learn Mandarin and Russian.  Jews made a mistake when they piled into israel. Once israel is smoked, judaism will not recover, there won't be critical mass anywhere. Like obama, they are between a rock and a hard place.

stopthejunk1's picture

You're dreaming.  There are nearly as many Jews in the U.S. as there are in Israel.

J S Bach's picture

No shit, Sherlock! (Sorry, I had to say it.)


I totally concur.  I wish McCain would just finally go to his maker in hell and spare us his malicious presence.

StychoKiller's picture

Bloody brilliant, Holmes!  (I've always wanted to say that!)

Omen IV's picture

Ok so how about- corporations are people as the Man said: then they can rule for the people  - how about blackwater taking control on behalf of the corps

Truthseeker2's picture

This essay exposes the whole NWO scheme! 




disabledvet's picture

"Asymmetric war goes global."

What you should read is "Dangers in the death of a Bipolar World."

The consensus of policy makers back in the early 90's was that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a bad thing because the "battle between two Superpowers did provide for global stability."

Now you have a free for all where "borders are to be changed" and "historical grievances are anything but."

J S Bach's picture

The only thing that any of TPTB care about in ANY revolutionary crisis is whether or not THEIR debt-based-currency scheme will be put in place (with ties to the IMF).  Were ANY rogue nation to appear (ala the Third Reich) that would actually SHOW the world what is economically possible WITHOUT their diabolic usurious tentacles wrapped around them - the creatures would be doomed.  They're doomed inevitably, but this would bring their demise about almost instantly.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Referendum for Crimean return to Russia (printed in Russia):


? Wish to Join Russia

? Wish to go to Siberia for long vacation

SilverRhino's picture

You just hit the nail on the head.   THIS is what scares the US the most.   Becuase if this is a 'right' of the people to form their own governments then the US Imperial machine is finished.   

Texas secession is about to get a BIG boost up.   


RafterManFMJ's picture

what is stopping any US state from the same?

...the full faith and credit of the US Army.

What kind of a farmer lets the herd just wander off?

TheRideNeverEnds's picture

The federal government and their military.  The south tried it once; turned into the bloodiest war in American history. 

Wahooo's picture

That was before our cities were tinderboxes of barrios and gangbangers. Lots of stupid soldiers will get toasted this time around.

Flagit's picture

if these new nation states are able to vote themselves out and self determine their government, what is stopping any US state from the same?


I've come to the conclusion that the only way to stop the Federal government monster is for various states to start leaving the union and properly starve the beast.

yea, they realized that too. that's why they are combing emails, demonizing returning vets and anyone else that doesn't goose-step to the official party tune.

Skateboarder's picture

California and New Mexico were ceded to the United States for 15M and 3.25M of Mexican debt after the War on Mexico v1.0. Does this situation seem analogous to you?

SAT 800's picture

He's an expert on the Ukrainian Constitution as well as the US Constitution ?  Who knew ? I hope they understand that with Obama, your Consitution has you; for lunch.

BearClaw's picture

He doesn't know shit about either one.

mac768's picture

The "risk off" moment might come much earlier than the sheeple think, maybe tomorrow if one takes into account:

1. China's first default on corporate debt

2. Terrorism concenrns regarding MH 370

3. China exports crashing

4. Ukraine powder keg

5. Leverage to the hilt at NYSE


So what do we need more?

Clowns on Acid's picture

It will be "Risk off"...then "Moar On".

skwid vacuous's picture

Risk off... until the 6-8am magical futures levitation, then a vix smash at some point during the day will get us green by the close... yayz

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Why do you folks persist?

There is no risk on.  There is no risk off.  There is no market.

The computers are 70% of trading.  They do what they wish, and what they wish is to look at share buybacks funded by the Fed.

They don't care about much else.  Mutual fund investment committees are not doing hourly reallocation of asset profile.  They don't care about China export statistics.  If China weakness reduced profit at US corporations, earnings per share can still rise by buying back even more shares.

Profit / revenue decline has to fall enormous amounts to make this happen, and the only real engine to make that happen is oil.

Cynthia's picture

The new prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has Jewish ancestry so his appointment of another Ukrainian with Jewish roots is no surprise. Both will happily do everything the USA wants. This is not a racist comment, just wanted to highlight their background and their allegiance. Another fact he is a failed minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk was once the head of the Ukrainian Finance Department or the bank and he failed miserable in looking after the finances when he was previously in charge about 6 years ago. The people now in power have no real idea what to do, all they knew was to overthrow the government and then let the West provide and allow them to dictate how Ukraine should be run. First will be a austerity move, new contracts signed to buy American weapons, allow them to build missile defense, contracts to American oil and gas companies. I hear Chevron and Exxon already have contracts. Monsanto will come in with GM seeds. Ukraine will get some money, but it will be phased in over the next 5 years when they really need $15 billion a year. So the people will be poorer than they are now. Ukraine won't feel any benefit for a long time from EU integration, a few will get rich while the rest will suffer. After a year of this, I'm guessing the people will be out in Maidan again to get rid of this one sided deal.

machineh's picture

The U.S. didn't recognize the results of the Gaza elections in 2006, either, when the vote-winner failed to please Israel.

It's not a valid election unless the Lobby approves.

yochananmichael's picture

its hard to find someone there with above average intelligence who doesnt have jewish roots.

skwid vacuous's picture

don't forget they can't have a soul or conscience either, but that comes with the territory i guess...

yochananmichael's picture

then why do you deify a dead one.

robertocarlos's picture

I'm smart but I have self-hating Jewish roots.

StychoKiller's picture

Judaism is a religion, not a race -- just ask Sammy Davis Jr.

midtowng's picture

These are three awkward questions for CONSERVATIVE RIGHT-wingers.

After all, it isn't liberals who are banging the drums of war. It is neocons.