A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting
a particular region. A cultural and/or ethnic identity.
An area or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.
A geopolitical Identity. The Ukraine for example
A state formed of nations. The United Kingdom for example or any historic Empire made up
of multiple nations.
Although most of us never think about it the countries we live in are the product of someone else at some
point in history drawing lines on maps.
Down here in Deepest Summerset prior to the arrival of the Romans this was the land of the Durotriges
and all over the country were other tribal groups.
Then those roman quill pushers tried to make us all one happy part of the greater Roman Empire.
After that the country separated in to larger but still separate regions such as Wessex and Mercia.
Germanics, Scandinavians, half of Europe wandered over to raid or to settle down after conquering the
locals. Then the Normans turned up in 1066, by 1130 they controlled not only all of England and a lot of
Wales but they had added parts of Southern and Easter Scotland and by 1169 they added significant
sections of Ireland as well.
Later kings added more and more until the United Kingdom was, well, all of the ancient Kingdoms United
under a single ruler by force of arms.
Since then we have had the occasional internal war about who rules the United Kingdom but we have
been the UK for so long that few these days even think about the fact that we live in a disparate set of
regions conquered by force and now ruled by a single government.
However for a great many States around the world this is not the case.
The 19th and 20th centuries were busy times for map makers. Due to Imperial dictate, wars, conquests,
collapsing rule and a variety of other reasons nations and states rose and fell all over the world.
The European empires and the aftermath of the two World Wars created perhaps the largest number of
Very few of these States wanted to be unified as such; they were forced into being by more powerful
Nations or States drawing lines on maps and forcing them to abide by the new borders. This left ethnic
and cultural groups split between new borders and groups that had nothing in common or even great
animosity for each other now making up a new State that forced them to be neighbours.
In the 1990s when the Soviet Empire broke apart a number of nations and States found themselves
under their own control and with borders that often encompassed large numbers of people who did
not want to be ruled by someone far away or nothing to do with them.
Czechoslovakia for example later broke apart into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Yugoslavia separated
in to six smaller Nations or States, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo and the republic of
This gives you an idea of just how many separate groups had been packed together inside the borders
of one country as a result of the world wars or Imperial powers.
But as the problems over the last two decades within many of those countries shows, they contain yet
smaller groups who are not happy with the way things are in the State that rules them.
Which brings us to the Ukraine and the Crimea.
The Crimea has been Russian for longer than some European countries have existed, Catherine the
Great took the region in 1783 as part of greater Russia.
By comparison Belgium, that country that forms the heart and capital of the EU came into existence in
1839 and then only after being the southern Netherlands then conquered by France or Austria then
France then becoming part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands then becoming Belgium after the Belgian
Revolution in 1839.
Think about the significance of that, the Crimea has been Russian longer than Belgium has existed and
still the EU and NATO are engaged in a land grab to claim the Ukraine and its resources.
By the Way why is NATO trying to set up on Russia’s borders, how can Putin not see that as a blatant
provocation. Oh it’s to protect the Ukraine from Russia, does it not occur to people that Putin is acting
to protect Russia and the Crimea from NATO by taking over chunks of the Ukraine.
The significant Russian majority combined with many non Russians deciding to boycott the vote meant
that over 90% of the votes were to join Russia and as such the Ukraine is no more. It will take months,
perhaps a couple of years but from yesterday the state called Ukraine will never be the same and it is
possible that a year or two from now may not even exist.
The regions bordering Russia in the eastern Ukraine are already talking about holding similar votes to join
Russia; they also contain large numbers of Russian speakers and Russian citizens.
To the west there are many who have family and friends in Poland, a country they were part of until Hitler
and Stalin carved up the east of Europe by drawing lines on maps. Why should people who were born in
Poland then found themselves conquered by Russia, forced to become part of the Soviet Union and
Warsaw pact them left to become a country called the Ukraine not be allowed to rejoin Poland if they
consider that country to be their ancestral home.
The West had basically treated this whole situation in an appalling manner. Any attempt to stand up to
Putin has been wasted in pointless threats, empty gestures and a general demonstration of incompetence.
The west has tried to bully their way through this and have been proved to be toothless which means that for
the future Putin is essentially free to do as he wants safe in the knowledge that the West will do nothing.
This is perhaps the biggest downside of this whole affair. So many Leaders, so much hot air, so many paper
tigers. The West has demonstrated that unless you are a third world power like Libya then you can do what
you want because the West cannot or will not do anything about it.
The world has become a more dangerous place as a result of this.
But I feel there is a good side as well, this is a promising start and sets a precedent that will, hopefully, lead
to the further spread of democracy and self determination. Not the watered down version that the UN
supports but all people having the democratic ability to determine who they are, where they are and of which
nation they wish to be a part of.
The ability of an ethnic, cultural or regional group to decide for themselves who they want to be by the vote
of the majority of that group not constrained by the majority of a country they do not wish to be part of.
Russia has, by acting so quickly and forcefully set a precedent. The West has by failing to act or by acting in
such a weak and helpless manner also set a precedent.
Without resorting to armed uprising and a blood bath. Without thousands of civilian deaths. A regional
people who consider themselves to be citizens of a nation they were separated from by lines on a map have
voted to redraw the map.
The West said it was illegal and then did nothing of consequence.
So the case is made, the precedent has been set.
Other ethnic or cultural groups who want to determine their own fate free from the rule or a government
imposed upon them by lines on a map can stand up and vote.
Many will not have the strength to stand along and the West will call them criminals for illegally trying to be
a democracy. But the fact that some try and succeed will inspire others to try and if they succeed then yet
more will be inspired.
There are many states along Russia’s southern borders or eastern regions who will be watching the events
in the Crimea with interest, as will many across the world who want the right to self determination at the
personal level not the state level.
It will take a while and many will fail but what I see here is 21st century democracy in action. People making
their own choices and communicating those choices to the world. In the West many condem this vote as
being at the point of a gun and therefore not a valid vote, the sad truth is that it was only under the cover of
guns that such a vote was possible.
While Russia had behaved badly here so have NATO and the EU. There are no good guys in this situation. The
Ukraine is being carved up between the two European great powers, one to the West and one to the East.
There are many losers in this.
But perhaps, just perhaps one of the winners will be