6 More Russian Myths About Crimea
Published: April 16, 2014 (Issue # 1806)
Russian leaders often look uninformed — or desperate — when they try to justify abuses of power by claiming that the U.S. is guilty of similar infractions.
Take, for example, President Vladimir Putin’s comparison of Russia’s selective legal assault against Yukos — and the subsequent expropriation of most of Yukos’ assets into state-controlled Rosneft — with the U.S. prosecution of Enron in 2003.
In September 2012, Putin, responding to international criticism of the prison death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, said that the U.S. had no right to judge Russia because it executes convicted criminals at home. The Foreign Ministry took this argument further, saying in its 2012 report on U.S. human rights violations that the U.S. executes minors, which is a blatant falsehood.
Russian authorities also fired back at U.S. criticism of Russia’s record on free speech by asserting that the U.S. violated the rights of former Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, jailed for leaking 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Now, the Kremlin has adopted the same flawed “look who’s talking” argument to counter criticism of its annexation of Crimea. Here are six more myths that Russia is fond of spinning.
1. All great powers annex territory. Look at the U.S., which unabashedly annexed Texas and Hawaii.
It is true that the U.S. annexation of Texas in 1845 was a vivid example of manifest destiny, imperialism and promoting the interests of the powerful, slaveholding class in the South. The Texas annexation, which extended the state’s border to the Rio Grande river, was a clear act of provocation against Mexico, which had historical claims to parts of Texas. The annexation sparked the Mexican-American war of 1846-48, which the U.S. won, giving it ownership of a huge swath of western territories from Colorado to California.
Similarly, Hawaii was annexed in 1898 after the U.S. orchestrated a coup overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. The main economic motive of the coup was to exploit Hawaii’s sugar wealth and promote the interests of the five largest U.S. sugarcane-processing corporations working on the islands.
But it is odd that Russia is pointing to a 19th-century U.S. imperialist model of expansion to justify its annexation of Crimea. Is Russia still living in the 19th century, pursuing its own form of manifest destiny? Clearly, the post-World War II world order, which is based on United Nations-based system of international law and respecting the territorial integrity of other nations, rejects these crude 19th-century and early 20th-century land grabs.
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