Land or Population: For what does Ukraine put in a claim in the Crimea?

Official statements of Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative for the EU Foreign Affairs, concerning non-recognition of Russian parliamentary elections' results in the Crimea make us take a fresh look at understanding of territorial problems from the parties to such conflicts.

Ukraine's claims against Russia in connection with Kiev's de facto loss of the Crimean territory and its entire infrastructure are quite understandable, but they can also be challenged with reference to so inconvenient (to use to date) Kosovo's precedent. What is involved in this case is not only a territorial dispute. It is the right of Crimean inhabitants to express their opinions freely and democratically.

For Kiev and its political allies, the awkward truth is that only a few inhabitants of the Crimean Peninsula have unwished to get Russian passports. By the way, an analysis of Russian law easily shows that there are no fundamental juridical obstacles for granting of Russian citizenship to everyone, who simply would like to obtain it and have no legal problems; without even taking into account the place of residence. Almost (!) 100 percent of Crimean inhabitants wished to obtain Russian citizenship long ago. Now they have realized their intentions, and done so before Ukrainian authorities reacted, prohibiting them from having a double nationality (true, Ukrainian oligarchs may still have dual and even triple nationalities, but to all seeming it is okay for them). And there is a question, related not only to international jurisprudence, but also to just common sense. How could one fail to appreciate Russian citizens' participation in elections of deputies to their home Parliament? What if all these people went to the neighboring province of Russia with the aim to vote? Does it fit in best with international norms?

There is no doubt that Kiev can believe one took not only the land, but also two and a half million its serfs, attached to that land. But what world's apologists for human rights and freedoms can associate themselves with such medieval point of view is, at least, puzzling. It is not even the notorious 'double standards'. This is just blatant persecution of Russian citizens, that's all.

So what are we saying here? Let us imagine a hypothetical and highly improbable situation concerning the return of the Crimea to Ukraine. Will it lead to revival of two and a half million citizens who will be denied any rights? Or does it mean that the present-day population of the Crimea, which generational basis is linked directly to the fate of this peninsula, will be forcibly deported to Russia? Wondering whether such 'triumph of democracy' will be supported by the USA and the EU? We have to recognize: chances were that it would have happened like this.