I WISH to offer a Russian perspective to the slanted coverage of the Ukrainian crisis by Western mainstream media, including reports and analyses by wire agencies like Reuters and Bloomberg which newspapers everywhere including The Straits Times subscribe to and publish. Much has been said about the violation of domestic Ukrainian legislation when the Crimeans opted to secede from Ukraine to join Russia. This view persists even though an overwhelming 97 percent of Crimeans voted for secession thus exercising the right to self-determination which is prominently embodied in Article I of the United Nations (UN) Charter and has been reaffirmed on many occasions by the UN General Assembly. It should be noted that Kosovo in the former republic of Yugoslavia declared independence in 2008 without any referendum or voting at all; and more than 100 nations recognised its independence.
The former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic itself violated Soviet legislation when it seceded from the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or Soviet Union in 1991 notwithstanding the fact that about 77 percent, or more than two thirds of the those who voted in the referendum favoured the preservation of the Soviet Union. Does the logic follow that it is only good when Russia is split, and bad only when Russians re-unite? The world welcomed the re-unification of East and West Germany, so why there all the fuss when Russians re-unite?
Does it mean that Ukraine had the right to secede from the USSR but that Crimea does not have the right to secede from the Ukraine? Isn't this a blatant application of double standards? When Ukrainians took to the streets to protest in Kiev against a President they did not like, they were dubbed "good guys" by the West. Yet, when Russians and Ukrainians protest in eastern Ukraine, they are called "separatists and terrorists". Why wasn't there a fuss about the change of borders in Europe when the USSR broke up? Or when the United States and its European allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) bombed and dismembered Yugoslavia? Until today, adults and children in the former Yugoslavia are suffering the fatal effects of cancer as a result of uranium-infused bombs dropped by Nato. Has there been significant Western reportage about such a horrific phenomenon? Or does anyone care that the American-led invasion in Iraq resulted in a million victims? How much analysis was there in Western media about the illegal coup in Kiev in the abrogation of international law when the country's legal President was forcibly ousted and replaced, effectively, by ultra-nationalists? Does anyone in the West remember when blaming Crimea and Russia that the crisis in Ukraine began with the coup in Kiev- one more capital where notorious policy of forced regime-change was again applied? How can the world, and the media, allow hypocrisy to plumb such deplorable depths?