When is the line crossed?

The situation in Crimea brings frightening parallels to Nazi Germany.

In 1938, Adolf Hitler successfully “annexed” Austria as part of the German empire. No vote was taken, the Austrian government basically resigned as the German army stood at the border. To solidify the so-called legality of the move, a vote was taken later. Nearly 100 percent of Austrians “voted” in favor of joining with Germany.

Earlier this month, Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and be annexed into Russia. Again, it was nearly a unanimous “vote” as tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed on the eastern borders of Ukraine.

In response, the Obama administration has huffed and puffed and put sanctions on a handful of Russian and Crimean officials to show them who’s boss. And Russian President Vladimir Putin just laughed.

In order to somewhat understand the Crimean situation, a little history is in order. With the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922, the various republics were united, including Russia and Ukraine. At the time, the Crimea peninsula was part of Russia.

In 1954 then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine, a move that historians still debate as to why. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, a bare majority - 54 percent - of Crimeans voted for independence from Russia. Crimea agreed to remain with Ukraine, but was given wide autonomy, including having its own legislative body and its own constitution.

To this day, Crimea remains primarily Russian-speaking and also is the home port for Russia’s Black Fleet navy. About 60 percent of the population is ethnic Russian. Putin argues annexing Crimea is simply returning it back to Russia, where it was originally.

Despite all the blustering by Obama and European leaders on how this annexation will not stand, we believe it will. And what will the United States and European countries do to stop it? More “sanctions” or war?

The real fear is not Crimea, but Putin’s next move. Hitler, after annexing Austria, moved on to take over parts of Czechoslovakia and then even more of that country. Next came Poland and World War II began.

The question is whether Putin will find other “Russian” areas to annex in an attempt to restore Russia’s former reach. If he does, at some point, there will be a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. We can only hope Putin does not cross that line.




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