BETWEEN ILLEGAL RUSSIAN OCCUPATION AND WESTERN ECONOMIC SANCTIONS, IS IT AT ALL RELEVANT (AND EVEN POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE) WHAT THE CRIMEAN PEOPLE WANT?
di Luigi Crema
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This paper retraces the events surrounding the 2014 illegal occupation of Crimea, addressing the difficult political question of whether manifestations of the will of Crimean people in recent years can have relevance for the status of Crimea. So far, any attempts to frame the Crimean events and discern the possible will of the Crimean people to obtain independence is derailed by the illegal infiltration of the Crimean territory by Russian operatives without insignia, and by the final outcome of this move: the annexation. While legally it is very clear that international law cannot recognize the transfer of a territory through an illegal occupation, several facts, including the history of Crimea, the absence of bloodshed during the occupation, the relative stability of Crimea, and the manifestations of democratic will since 2014, indicate that the Crimean situation is unique. The purpose of this paper is to ask what we can make of popular manifestations of political will in a context where the use of force and the violation of legal obligations are in play.