Home / Robert Farley / “We never threaten anyone. We just explain the situation.”

“We never threaten anyone. We just explain the situation.”

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Meaningless vote, but it does suggest that international opinion views the annexation of Crimea differently than the Kosovo War or the South Ossetia War:

Russia threatened several Eastern European and Central Asian states with retaliation if they voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution this week declaring invalid Crimea’s referendum on seceding from Ukraine, U.N. diplomats said.

The disclosures about Russian threats came after Moscow accused Western countries of using “shameless pressure, up to the point of political blackmail and economic threats,” in an attempt to coerce the United Nations’ 193 member states to join it in supporting the non-binding resolution on the Ukraine crisis…

A spokesman for Russia’s Mission to the U.N. denied that Moscow threatened any country with retaliation if it supported the resolution, saying: “We never threaten anyone. We just explain the situation.”

In the end, the Ukrainian resolution declaring Crimea’s vote on March 16 in favor of seceding from Ukraine as having “no validity” passed with 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions. Another 24 U.N. member states did not cast votes.

Western diplomats called the result a diplomatic success for Ukraine. A similar General Assembly vote was held in 2008 after Russia went to war with Georgia over its breakaway enclave South Ossetia, which later declared independence and

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has unsuccessfully sought annexation to Russia. That resolution was adopted with a mere 14 votes in favor, 11 against and 105 abstentions.

This highlights some of the complexity with respect to understanding the role of precedent in international affairs. Even if the bulk of the world doesn’t find the Kosovo-Crimea parallel plausible, it seems that the Russians do, at least insofar that it serves as legal and moral cover for what Russia wants to do anyway. Moscow calls the shots, and gets to self-describe in the manner it sees fit. And speaking of calling shots, here’s what it’s like

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to be attacked by a Syrian MiG-29:

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