Crimea and the Politics of Legitimacy in International Relations

Anatoly A. Vlasov – Doctor of Law, Professor, MGIMO-University. Russia, 119454, Moscow, Vernadsky Prospekt, 76. E-mail:
Alexsandr V. Brega – Doctor of Political Science, Professor, Ph. Financial University (Moscow, Russian Federation). 125993, Moscow, Leningradsky Prospekt, 49. E-mail:
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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2018-1-58-26-41 (Read the article in PDF)

Despite the fact that four years have passed since the accession of Crimean peninsula, an active polemic continues in the academic community. Obviously, it somehow sets a certain political discourse not only of the present, but also of the future. Therefore, one cannot ignore the existence of serious arguments from those who criticize legitimacy of the Russia’s actions. However, on the other hand, there are enough legal and legitimate reasons to recognize the reunification of Crimea and Russia as fully justified. The analysis of the relationship between the legal and political aspects of legitimacy is crucial in this matter. In the post-Soviet period, the Ukrainian government, setting a course for rapid Ukrainianization and building (almost not taking in consideration its own realias) a state of the European type, proved unable to change the pro-Russian identity of the Crimeans. On the contrary, its policies only increased people’s discontent with Ukrainian reality. As a result, the pro-Russian orientation of the majority of Crimean residents has become both Russian legitimacy and legality. In addition, the issues of national security were an important circumstance of the Russian leadership actions during this period. Russia was forced to consolidate its high traditional legitimacy on the peninsula legally, when it sensed a threat to it from the expanding NATO because of the coup d’état and the ouster of the legitimate authority. Introducing the blockade of the peninsula, the Kiev authorities finally undermined the Ukrainian legitimacy among the population of the Crimea. The blockade, first by non-state actors, and then by state structures of Ukraine in water supply, access to electricity, restriction of freedom of movement and in other areas, led to the violation of human rights in the Crimea. Today, the Ukrainian state in every possible way reneges on international law norms in relation to the Crimeans, arguing that the Russian Federation has “occupied” the Crimea. However, if Russia’s criticism of Ukraine continues in a rationally legal manner, Russia should also insist, within the same rational-legal logic, on material reparation of the consequences, which may cause Ukrainian blockade of the peninsula.

Key words: legitimacy, authority, international law, Crimea; politics, law, blockade.

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