There is war in Europe. A sovereign nation in the heart of Europe has been invaded and its territory forcefully seized and annexed by its larger neighbor. This has serious implications on the security and stability of all Euro-Atlantic nations. Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is the victim. The attack on Ukraine runs contrary to the principles of a civilized world that Europe and America have sought to build since the end of the Cold War.
Ukraine cannot be left alone to face Russia’s military might. The aggression must be reversed, Crimea and other occupied territories returned to Ukraine. Ukraine must remain an independent nation with its borders intact, free to follow its democratic will.
It is about time that Europe and America understand that the invasion by Russia is a clear-cut case of a larger country bullying a smaller country. We cannot have an international order if might is right. We cannot have a safe and secure world if powerful countries are able to take what they want. President Obama, recently speaking of the war in Ukraine stated: “This is a vision of the world in which might makes right. And we believe that right makes right.” So does the Baltic American Freedom League. So should Congress.
It has been almost a year since the Russian invasion. But the United States still has failed to officially declare that Russia’s invasion, occupation and annexation is illegal, and that the United States will never recognize the occupation as legitimate. Sure, the Department of State and Administration officials and Congresspersons in passing have said that Washington does not recognize Russia’s actions as legal, but that is NOT sufficient. The non-recognition policy declaration needs to be given real content and strength to ensure that no part of our government may take actions that undermine the non-recognition policy; and may it serve as notice to Russia and the world that Putin’s actions against Ukraine are unacceptable and will be reversed eventually. In other words the declaration “must be cast in concrete” as was the case with United States non-recognition policy of the Baltic countries’ annexation by the Soviet Union.
CONGRESS SHOULD ADOPT A DECLARATIVE STATEMENT THAT RUSSIA IS AN AGGRESSOR AND THAT THE UNTIED STATES WILL NEVER RECOGNIZE THE OCCUPATION AND ANNEXATION OF UKRAINE’S TERITORRY AS LEGITIMATE. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RESOLUTION H.R. 93 DOES THAT.
H.R. 93 also known as Crimea Annexation Non-recognition Act was introduced by Representatives Gerald Connolly (D-VA), a member of the House Baltic Caucus and Steve Chabot (R-OH). Both are members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. H.R. 93 is the same bill as H.R. 5241 that the two Representatives introduced in the last session, but which was not adopted by the House due to the Administration’s and the Department of State’s lack of support.
H.R. 93 “Prohibits any federal department or agency from taking any action or extending any assistance that recognizes or implies recognition of the de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea, its airspace or its territorial water.” The bill will serve as notice to Putin that the Russian Federation, a state which seizes by force the territory of its neighbors, can never be legitimate in the eyes of the world.
H.R. 93 is also a notice to the Russian Federation, other nations, and international organizations to ensure that those guilty of violating the borders of sovereign nations and those who forcefully seize territories should be punished. By taking this step the United States has made it easier for the West to impose additional sanctions on Russia. “American response must be much more than a verbal slap if we want Putin to understand his actions in Ukraine are unacceptable. Congress must refuse to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).
By the illegal land grab of Ukraine’s territory, the Russian Federation a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council revealed an utter disregard for the most basic principles of international law as well as of its own commitments: the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, the post 1980’s European Settlement, the 1990 CSCE Paris Charter, the 1991 Alma Ata Declaration, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the 1997 Ukraine Russia Bi-lateral Friendship Treaty (SIC). Today, Russia is violating the Minsk Truce Agreement signed by the United States, Great Britain and the Russian Federation last September.
Since 1932, the United States has maintained a doctrine known as the Stimson Doctrine, named after Secretary of State Stimson. The doctrine declares that the United States government will not recognize territorial border changes or occupation of sovereign territory brought about by force or the threat of force. It was first applied to Japan for its unilateral seizure of Manchuria and in 1940 to the Soviet annexation of the Baltic countries. The doctrine was adopted by the League of Nations as part of its protocol. After World War II, it became the foundation of the United Nations Charter. The United States must continue to stand by the doctrine. It is inherent in relations among civilized nations. The United States should recognize the realities of the attack on Ukraine and formally declare the Non-recognition doctrine relative to Crimea.
It is vital that Europe and the United States recognize that this war is not just about Ukraine. Having taken Ukraine, Russia might attempt to seize more land from its neighbors. Many highly regarded and knowledgeable persons government officials, political analysts, scholars, politicians and media persons have stated that Putin’s endgame is Europe with Teheran and Yalta agreement boundaries. “If Putin the Thug gets away with crushing Ukraine’s new democratic experiment and unilaterally redrawing the borders of Europe, every-pro-Western country around Russia will be in danger.” T. Friedman, [The New York Times, 1/28/15].