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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


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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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Why The U.S. Lost Its Leverage In The Middle East — And May Never Get It Back

In the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar now plays the key role in negotiations, while the United States appears increasingly disengaged. Shifts in the region and beyond require that Washington move quickly or risk ceding influence to China and others for the long term.

Photograph of U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken  shaking hands with sraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

November 30, 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel: U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Chuck Kennedy/U.S State/ZUMA
Sébastien Boussois


PARIS — Upon assuming office in 2008, then-President Barack Obama declared that United States would gradually begin withdrawing from various conflict zones across the globe, initiating a complex process that has had a major impact on the international landscape ever since.

This started with the American departure from Iraq in 2010, and was followed by Donald Trump's presidency, during which the "Make America Great Again" policy redirected attention to America's domestic interests.

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The withdrawal trend resumed under Joe Biden, who ordered the exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2021. To maintain a foothold in all intricate regions to the east, America requires secure and stable partnerships. The recent struggle in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict demonstrates that Washington increasingly relies on the allied Gulf states for any enduring influence.

Since the collapse of the Camp David Accords in 1999 during Bill Clinton's tenure, Washington has consistently supported Israel without pursuing renewed peace talks that could have led to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

While President Joe Biden's recent challenges in pushing for a Gaza ceasefire met with resistance from an unyielding Benjamin Netanyahu, they also stem from the United States' overall disengagement from the issue over the past two decades. Biden now is seeking to re-engage in the Israel-Palestine matter, yet it is Qatar that is the primary broker for significant negotiations such as the release of hostages in exchange for a ceasefire —a situation the United States lacks the leverage to enforce.

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