Crimea (Krym), Ukraine, Russia
- Is Western Pressure Effective?

Tension is building between Ukraine and Russia, especially in Krym (Crimea). Western leaders are trying to calm things down with direct messages to President Putin.

First, a bit of background: the President of Ukraine has recently fled to Russia after angering much of the Ukrainian people by refusing better links with Europe. However the majority of people in Krym (Crimea) want better links with Russia, and the Prime Minister of Krym has promised a referendum on independence from . Krym was 'given' to Ukraine only short while ago by Kruschev, so most of its population still feel 'Russian'. Armed men in Krym have taken over various important installations. Russia has made a military gesture against Ukraine in respect of Krym, involving its Black Sea fleet, and the Russian Parliament has passed a law enabling President Putin to get militarily involved with Ukraine if he deems it appropriate.

Western leaders are worried about this escalation. So President Obama phoned President Putin, urging restraint. Top British politicians have also been trying to exert pressure on Russia.

But will they have much effect?

Barack Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkell and other Western leaders boycotted the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The reason: Russia had passed a bill banning propaganda against minors which promotes "non-traditional sexual relations" (homosexuality especially). The penalty for such non-traditional relations is 100k roubles (just less than 2000 ,$3000) for individuals and 20000 ($30000) for organisations.

Will not Putin and the Russian people feel insulted by their boycott of the Olympics?

Is it reasonable for Obama and Cameron to expect Putin to be influenced by their pressure? What was this gesture about? Was this gesture, the boycott over something of international importance? Several things seem to suggest otherwise:

When put on the scale of importance, how does this weigh against international military conflict and war, where thousands stand to die and millions to suffer?

Have not Obama, Cameron, Merkell etc. sacrificed any influence they might have had with Russia, by a gesture over something relatively small by international standards?

Should we not learn proportionality?


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