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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Just Let Them Have Crimea! On The Risks Of Russian "Resentment" — And Ukraine's Too

Russian-born, Kyiv-based writer Michael Sheitelman writes that while everybody is afraid of Russia's bitter wrath should it be forced to relinquish Crimea, the same should go for Ukraine. Imagine that scenario now...

Photo of a big letter Z in steel, overlooking the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to mainland Russia

The letter Z has become a war symbol for Russia, overlooking the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to mainland Russia

Michael Sheitelman

-OpEd-

For several months now, we have been getting trickles of news from Crimea, the big dab of white-out on the geopolitical map of Ukraine and this war.

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Since its annexation in 2014, the peninsula has been isolated not only from Ukraine, but also by the rest of the world. Russian security services and Putin-appointed local authorities have arrested or forced Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists to leave. There are no Ukrainian or international journalists on the territory of Crimea, and all Russian media news about what is happening in Crimea is censored.

What we do know is that the military and naval bases in Crimea and the peninsula are used for the transfer, treatment and training of military personnel before they are sent to the front in Ukraine. It is also where the most iconic military diversions since early 2022 have taken place: the bombing of the Crimean bridge, the attack on military airbases, and the sinking of the pride of the Russia's Black Sea fleet, the Moskva cruiser.

Crimea remains a hot spot and a non-negotiable goal of liberation for the Ukrainian side. Only with the return of Crimea, say Ukrainians, will this war end.


Russian-born, Kyiv-based writer Michael Sheitelman offers a different perspective about what's at stake in the peninsula's murky future:

Moscow think-tank thinking

No, my friends, you can't call shit-deal a peace deal. I've read the much-discussed Washington Post article this week about Crimea. To start with, I found the article was suspiciously pulling "parachute straps" from Moscow.

The publication quotes Nikolai Petrov, presented as an analyst for a respected London think tank. But neither the first nor last name of this Londoner look British: It turns out this Petrov works in Moscow at the so-called "Higher School of Economics," and is a proxy of Vladimir Putin's associate Alexei Kudrin, whose new position at Russian internet giant Yandex allows him to help the Kremlin track what's happening online.

And so this certain Mr. Petrov declares to The Washington Post that: "The creation of the Crimean platform and the West's permission to play this card began a dangerous game that eventually led to war."

In other words, according to Petrov, the war began because Ukraine and the world's other civilized countries were peacefully discussing exactly how to return Crimea. It would be good to check if he is still allowed to go to London, and then let him stay in Moscow.

Waiting in Sevastopol, Crimea

In Sevastopol, Crimea

Michal Burza/ZUMA

Battle of bitterness

But now to the more pertinent and current point made in the article — about the future.

The worry is expressed from an anonymous Western politician cited in the article, asking rhetorically: If "Ukraine takes Crimea by force, Russia may use nuclear weapons. Wouldn't it be better to just let Russia have Crimea?"

The answer is that it could be possible to force Ukraine to sign such an agreement. But have you heard the French word "ressentiment"? Everybody, for some reason, is afraid of Russia's ressentiment (resentment, rancor, bitterness) at the end of the war, when it will return to the borders of 1991, get rid of nuclear weapons and pay reparations to the victims.

But shouldn't we also be talking about Ukrainian resentment? What would that look like if Crimea was gone for good from Ukraine? Ukrainians would be left with only one objective as a nation: to vanquish Russia. Ukraine will build its own nuclear weapons, along with more and more squadrons of drones and cruise missiles.

Moreover, unlike intellectually and technologically degraded Russia, Ukraine has everything it needs to achieve this: an educated population and experience with modern technology. And, of course, every Ukrainian woman will be ready to give birth to three children for the cause. And then, no one will be able to stop Ukraine.

Now, wouldn't it be better to let Ukraine have Crimea back?

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Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

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For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

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Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

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