Putin roadmap for Crimea's progress will ruin Ukraine

Special to Times of Oman

I felt obliged to present the situation prevailing in Ukraine and Crimea to the readers of Times of Oman, especially in response to the opinion expressed by its Opinion Editor, Debasish Mitra, on the issue. In his article, Baseless are the rants of the West on Crimea (March 25) Mitra has justified Russian occupation of Crimea. He said that my opinion, I expressed in my article, Why Putin Won't Hold Crimea, published in Time magazine on March 17, was wrong.

First of all I have to inform the readers of Times of Oman that I am ethnic Russian, was born in Saint Petersburg, I write and have always been writing in Russian so hardly one can qualify me as a Ukrainian nationalist. In fact Ukrainian nationalists were fighting with me for over 20 years because of my demands to recognise Russian-language writers living in Ukraine as Ukrainian writers.

Secondly Debasish Mitra has learned only latest history of Crimea since he forgets to mention that the Crimean peninsula first was colonised by ancient Greeks and Genovesians, then became part of Ottaman Empire and then for very long time was Crimean Tatar State protected by Ottaman empire until it was conquered by Catherine the Great, Russian Queen.

Hundred years ago most of the inhabitants of the Crimea were Muslims — Crimean Tatars. In 1943 on the order of Stalin the whole Tatar population was deported by NKVD/KGB forces to Central Asia and Siberia. And their houses and lands were taken over by Russians from Central Russia who also moved into Crimea under orders from Moscow.

Only in 1991 Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to the peninsula. They were promised help and land to build new houses since their old houses were still occupied by Russian families which moved there in 1943. Unfortunately, the local Crimean authorities, which for many years after collapse of the USSR remained communist, sabotaged the laws and decisions of Kiev. Till today many Crimean Tatars are still waiting for their promised land to build new houses for their families.

But since Crimea was annexed by Russia the interests of indigenous people of Crimea — Crimean Tatars — have been systematically ignored. But this is not the main point of my answer to Mitra.  His justification of Russia's annexation of the Crimea goes to mean that Russia will help Crimea to become the new Singapore or Taiwan. That sounds more than naive.

Why then Russian Federation did not create Russian Taiwan or Russian Singapore in other parts of Russian federation? Why famous Soviet Black Sea resorts of Abhazia, "liberated" from Georgia by the Russian Army still lie in ruins since the 2008 war. Why on Russian proper territory there is no effective "free economic zone"? Or am I blind? If so please name these zones and please produce internationally recognised data about their prosperity.

I can of course imagine that Russia will now be more than active in Crimea partially replacing the local population with fresh settlers who would be specially trained by Moscow to survive and thrive under toughest duress. 

The prevailing reality is that pro-Russian terrorists in the East of Ukraine are fighting against government troops using the Kalashnikov assault rifles, AK-100, which is not used by Ukrainian Army and is used by the Russian alone. They are using Russian rocket-launchers and other ammunition delivered from Russia.
Nothing in Russia happens without President Putin's consent. A bombing exercise by Russian Air Force along Russian-Ukrainian border, planned on the day of Ukrainian presidential elections, has been approved by President Putin. I will not be surprised that during this training if some bombs mistakenly fall on Ukrainian territory.

Of course if it happens it will not be an act of war, but a clever strategy of the Russian President to terrorise independent Ukraine. Putin wants to ruin Ukraine economically and make it so unstable that Crimea would look like Taiwan or Singapore in comparison. That will spare Putin the efforts and investments to make Crimea another Taiwan or Singapore.

Ukraine is at present undergoing lots of problem which no one will deny. Russian stands since February 18 compounded Ukraine's woes. If Russian dabbling in Ukraine is not stopped it will destroy not only lives of Russian-speaking minority to which I belong, it will ruin the stability of Europe.

Now, when after Crimea' annexation Russian politicians are stirring up new tension in the Moldova's regions of  Transdnistria and Gagausia, many European leaders are confused over the Russian moves and are unaware of Putin's intentions. Cold war is perhaps back. But in Ukraine it's already "hot". Too hot! I can only wish that this sad phase of Ukrainian history is turned over as soon as possible.

The author is an Ukrainian novelist, author of a critically acclaimed novel.  All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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Reader Comments

None of these concerns have anything to do with modern Russia. The tartars being shifted from their homeland and transported to Siberia is not the fault of Putin or modern Russia.

At present the majority residing in Crimea are Russians, and Russia has the moral right to take care of them

"Hundred years ago most of the inhabitants of the Crimea were Muslims — Crimean Tatar"

According to Wikipedia in 1897 there were 36% Tatars, 33% Russians and 12% Ukrainians. In 1939, before Stalins deportations, the percentage of Tatars had already sunk to 19%.