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Tourist season in Crimea

The ATMs in Crimea have run out of cash and local banks are restricting withdrawals to prevent a run. Also, the hotels and other tourist attractions are having serious cancellations. No doubt, the Russians could take up the slack in this vacation spot for Czars and Czarinas, etc. But will they? It puts you in mind of short term, small consequences that politically excited citizens might not think about when carrying out a revolution.  NYTimes (March 18).

AND HERE: Great Reporting. C.J. Chivers the NYTimes battlefield guy has gone to Kharive in eastern Ukraine where he reports on a demonstration and "confrontation" between proponents and opponents of the interim government in Kiev, "The Curtain Goes Up and the Clash Begins." He captures the choreography of staged events that no doubt have some political resonance. Nonetheless his story suggests that no one wants things to get out of hand. This seems to be a ballet staged for the benefit of Russian TV, but maybe they're just having fun.  Chivers is probably a Russian-speaker and captures the rhythm of events and has some good quotes.

As a frequent critic of the NYTimes (every day I am cancelling the subscription, and every day I don't), I applaud the resources they are putting into their coverage in Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, etc. The photo in the Chiver's story is attributed to Tyler Hicks, who we will all remember from his horrific and heroic Iraq photos.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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The complexity of the ethnic mixture and legality of all the Crimean situation is confusing, though it is not presumptuous, I think, to condemn the way it has been reacquired by Russia, Yet recent articles on the mid-'90s decisions about Bosnia as well as NPR story this AM on the history of Texan "independence" movement (1845-6) and Mexican War-- and throw in the Panama Canal history with Columbia  in 1903(?) - and it's impossible to excactly claim any moral high ground even though, as I said, this current action certainly appears illegal and unsupportable in the way it was done. 

Agree, there is no moral high ground here. Even if a certain percent of the Crimea vote was cast under duress, it is probably the case that a majority were in favor of returning to Russian control.

On the other hand, we could say that in the recent examples of U.S. intervention Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, etc., it was not our intention to stretch our borders to include them, nor to "infringe" their sovereignty in a direct way (I leave aside the problem of indirect). The Times story about the economic/tourist fall-out in Crimea is repeated in a story today about the economic disappointment of people in South Osstiea, annexed by Russia in 2008. Whether they would have fared better with Georgia, we don't know.  But perhaps it illustrates the conundrum of "the grass always looks greener on the other side." 

While the U.S. and Europe don't hold the high moral ground here, we can still question whether the citizens of Crimea have made a prudent choice in their vote.

It surely was not "free" in the common usage when there was no option to remain part of Ukraine and recent scuffle adn first bloodshed are sad and hopefully not ominous. As you say, the prudence is questionable but that huge ethnic dispartity must have been a smoldering explosion to happen, I assume. The suddeness certainly caught all of us who had no idea of the history and issues!

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