A follow up to The Kosovo Precedent and to answer the many questions about the relevance of the Kosovo Precedent to the case of Crimea.
The Kosovo Precedent in its legal component does not apply to Crimea and its democratic decision to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation as part of Russia for the following reasons (see also Crimea’s peaceful struggle for independence):
- The ruling on the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Kosovo applies to regions of countries which have no Constitutional provisioning for a seceding process or are bound by a Constitutional body which would demand a majority ruling of the entire country without reflecting the regional interests and cultural backgrounds as is the case with the Ukrainian Constitution. The Autonomous Republic Crimea did and does have a ratified Constitution which does provide for the democratic process of referendum to change the state of the Republic and does authorize the parliament of the Autonomous Republic Crimea to initiate such process.
- The Autonomous Republic Crimea was prior to its occupation by Nazi Germany and its Allies during World War II, a Soviet Republic and as such the Autonomous Republic Crimea was already entitled to decide on its own future by the means of referendum under the Soviet Constitution as well as the Soviet decree by which other Soviet States were entitled to hold such referendums which let to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
In short, Crimea was already provisioned for this process by its ratified Constitution and confirmed status as (former) Soviet Republic whereas Kosovo did not have such provisioning to which the “Kosovo Precedent” applies. But as explained in my previous post, there is more to the Kosovo Precedent: the use of military force by a foreign nation.
As NATO countries deployed and used military force in Kosovo and Serbia to enforce the UDI by the installed parliament of Kosovo, a practical Precedent was created. NATO authorized itself to enforce the execution of a democratic process which itself is mandated by the United Nations in its charter on Unilateral Declaration of Independence and the right of self-determination. Following the ground principal of Precedent Cases, no NATO member is entitled to object to any other country following the same Precedent Case created by NATO.
Given the announced process, which by the way did not start in 2014 but was already initiated by the Crimean Parliament before Ukraine declared its own independence from the Soviet Union, Russia deployed its armed forces on Crimea to ensure and protect the referendum and when needed, enforce the execution of the outcome. In the same manner as NATO did in Kosovo. Almost in the same manner, because Russia didn’t send its superior Air Force to bombard Ukraine in the way NATO did in Serbia. Nor did Russia launch missiles against positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Crimea, which NATO did in Kosovo.
When we argue that Kosovo opted for independence and Crimea opted to join Russia, please consider the following facts:
- Kosovo originally opted for a reunification with Albania and only later opted for independence with strong ties to Albania.
- Crimea was already an autonomous republic with a long history as part of Russia, see also The Crimean Case, part 1 and The Crimean Case, part 2).
- Defacto, Kosovo seceded from Serbia and Former Yugoslavia to become a part of EU and NATO in the future and in the direct sphere of influence immediately.
And even when all international treaties, memorandums and agreements do not provide any level of support for deployment of foreign military forces during a referendum and enforce the execution of the outcome, the acts of NATO during the Kosovo crisis do provide the Precedent by which Russia acted. The major difference is: Russia didn’t bomb Ukraine during the process and dealt with it within days, not years.
And that is another reason why Crimea is not Kosovo!