Can Ukraine ever get Crimea back?
On the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea on March 18 2014 the debate about the future of the Black Sea peninsula has reignited. To get Crimea back it's time to put diplomatic pressure on Moscow and think about a strategy for the post-Putin era, Ukrainian commentators urge. But not all observers believe such hopes are justified.
What's missing is a plan for the post-Putin era
The Kiev-based Russian journalist Yevgeny Kiselyov laments the lack of a responsible long-term strategy in Ukraine's Crimea policy and explains in Novoye Vremya:
“Thought should be put now into how to initiate negotiations with the Russia of the future. ... Putin won't last forever. Even if he follows Xi Jinping's example and decides to rule until his death, sooner or later there will be a change of regime. What is clear is that Ukraine must not lose the political war over Crimea. But it won't be possible to win it using brute force or legal methods. We must be patient and prepare to conduct information and propaganda campaigns in Crimea - or in other words to penetrate the awareness of the average Crimean inhabitant.”
Make diplomatic life unbearable for occupiers
Part of the West didn't recognise the assimilation of the three Baltic states in 1940 even after the end of World War II yet nonetheless maintained good relations with the USSR. This scenario must be avoided in the case of Crimea, warns Dmytro Kuleba, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe. In Ukrayinska Pravda he writes:
“Life must be made unbearable for the occupiers in the diplomatic world. ... Crimea's soil must burn under their feet when they pass through the corridors of Washington, New York, Strasbourg, Berlin, Ankara and other diplomatic centres. This is why Ukraine is bombarding our partners at all levels with proposals for action. ... Simply not recognising the annexation and elections on the annexed territory is too little. They must actively fight the annexation and push for de-occupation.”
Crimea will remain Russian forever
No matter who is president, it's naive to hope that Russia will ever give Crimea back to Ukraine, columnist Mikhail Konstantinov counters in Standart:
“How can people in the West believe Russia would simply decide, overnight, to give Crimea back to Ukraine? How is that supposed to work? I don't believe there will ever be a Russian president who says: 'Please, take back Crimea. We made a huge mistake.' That will never happen, whether or not the annexation was legal. It wasn't in line with the law: it was an annexation. But the Russians take a different view. What about Kosovo? they'll ask. It's all really rather complicated.”