Kosovo in Crimea: Ukraine, Turkey Exploit Tatar Genocide Charge Against Russia

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry marked the annual Crimean Tatar National Flag Day (initiated in 2010) with a denunciation of Russia’s alleged occupation of Crimea as would have been expected. The government in Kiev inevitably refers to the peninsula as temporarily occupied Crimea and regularly focuses on the ethnic Tatars there as the rest of the population appears content to be “occupied” by Russia.

The ministry called on the “international community” – for which read the U.S., European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization – to intervene, “to take additional measures of political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to protect humanitarian law and human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea.” The West intervened in Yugoslavia in 1999 and Libya in 2011 under the pretext of ending genocide. Intervened with bombs and missiles. Both countries have effectively ceased to exist as unified nation states, Yugoslavia altogether. In the name of combating genocide the West committed nationocide.

In 2015 the post-coup regime in Ukraine announced a Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide” in reference to the deportation of Tatars to Central Asia by the government of Joseph Stalin during World War II. The timing, as Crimea had recently re-affiliated with Russia, was expedient.

On June 26 the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that includes:

“Today, we once again call upon the Russian Federation to uphold its obligations as an occupying power, stop repressions against Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, comply with the April 19, 2017 Order of the International Court of Justice to lift the ban on the Crimean Tatar Mejlis [​representative body]. We call upon the international community to apply additional measures of political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to protect humanitarian law and human rights on the temporarily occupied peninsula.”

No distinction is made between the events of almost 80 years ago and those of the present. Russia, whether the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Stalin or the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, is guilty of the persecution of, genocide against, a conquered, an occupied nation – the Tatars – and the world now has the opportunity to atone for its inaction of several generations ago by intervening now to liberate the Tatars, to save them from extermination. If Russia in 2014 resumed a policy inaugurated by the Soviet Union 70 years earlier; if there’s an unquestioned continuity between the two; then what was genocide then is genocide now.

Never again means now, is the obvious theme.

Moscow is also accused of removing “cultural artifacts from Crimea to bring them to the territory of the Russian Federation in an attempt to use them as a political instrument to demonstrate ‘ties’ between the peninsula on one hand, and the Tsarist, Soviet and modern Russia.” Again, no distinction is made between imperial Czarist Russia, the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia.

That’s how the script is being prepared. A script for a war movie.

Ukraine is not alone in exploiting the Tatar issue. It is assisted at every turn by Turkey. Just as the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticizes China over the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and India over Kashmir (Turkey’s foreign policy is dictated exclusively by racial and religious factors; both in the first case, the religious in the latter), so it continually denounces Russia over the treatment of Tatars (and other Turkic-speaking) citizens.

At the eighth meeting of the Ukraine-Turkey High-Level Strategic Council in Ukraine in February of 2020, Erdoğan reiterated the position that Turkey doesn’t recognize the “illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and would continue to support “the Crimean Tatar people, as well as the Meskhetian Turks and Gagauz people.”

During the Turkish-supported invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan last October Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Erdoğan in Turkey to “discuss matters ranging from defense and trade to bilateral, regional and international issues, including the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.” While the beginning of an ongoing campaign by Azerbaijan and Turkey to displace and exterminate ethnic Armenians not only in Nagorno-Karabakh but in Armenia itself was underway, the Ukrainian and Turkish heads of state were discussing military cooperation and the attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.

And to discuss Crimea. In Erdoğan’s words, “We have and always will support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including over Crimea.”

A Turkish account of the meeting added these paragraphs:

“Since…Crimea rejoining Russia, Crimean Tatars have continued their struggle for Ukraine’s territorial integrity against Russian occupation.

“Crimea’s ethnic Tatars have faced persecution since Russia’s 2014 takeover of the peninsula, a situation Turkey has decried.”

At the ninth meeting of the Ukraine-Turkey High-Level Strategic Council in Turkey this April a 20-point declaration was issued. Four of the points pertained to Crimea, two of which pledge a common commitment to:

  • Enhance joint efforts to improve living conditions of the Ukrainian citizens, specifically Crimean Tatars who were forced to leave their ancestral homeland of Crimea in the aftermath of the temporary occupation.
  • Coordinate efforts within the framework of international law to ensure protection of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and the release of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, including Crimean Tatars.

It will not be difficult to sell economic warfare against Russia over Crimea, especially over the treatment of Tatars. It won’t be hard to justify a “humanitarian bombing” campaign either.

When a veteran lawmaker from America’s ruling party, and a heroine to the Resistance (compare to the Serbian Otpor), can’t distinguish between Crimea and Korea anything can be used as an excuse for a war.

The Balkan and Libyan models will be taken out of mothballs for such an eventuality.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union thirty years ago and the emergence of Western unipolar dominance – evidenced from NATO growing from 16 members and no partners at that time to 30 members and 40 partners now – particularly with the advent of the Bill Clinton presidency in 1993, the State Department has applied the domestic identity politics model (long on identity, short on politics) to justify foreign intervention.

First in the Balkans. When the civil war began in Bosnia, one of three contending parties, the one first identified by Western governments and news media as Muslim Slavs, then Bosniaks, later and to date simply as Bosnians (though the majority of Bosnians are not of Muslim background but are Serbs and Croatians), got the equivalent of American protected class points as a religious group and (somehow by extension) “persons of color.” Hence they were worthy victims.

How many Bosnians whose families had ever practiced Islam did so after 45 years of communism, and how many men of fighting age had ever seen the inside of a mosque, were questions never asked. The party of Islam Izetbegovic, the only one that defined itself religiously, was portrayed as the victim of religious persecution.

The same dynamic occurred in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. The ethnic Albanians there being primary of Muslim background (though a large number are Christians), they were portrayed as the persecuted victims. Trying to imagine the likes of Kosovo Liberation Army commanders Hashim Thaci, Agim Çeku and Ramush Haradinaj, whose underworld connections involved them in gunrunning, drug smuggling, human trafficking, organ harvesting and prostitution rings, abiding by the finer points of Ramadan protocol is a tall order.

The same technique will be employed against Russia in Crimea (as it was in Chechnya earlier).

The theme is not a new one but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be getting old.

While attending a meeting in Zambia in 2001 to help set up the African Union, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi offered a prophetic pronouncement.

On July 9, 2001 The Times of Zambia reported on his comments there; as the link is now longer active, the article will be quoted from fairly extensively.

Colonel Gaddafi who led prayers involving about 400 Moslems he invited at the Libyan embassy in Lusaka yesterday said the US was responsible for wars in Yugoslavia and Chechnya using the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

He urged Zambian Moslems to be wary of those trying to divide them.

Libya would stand behind Moslems when they are being persecuted but not when they were part of society like in Zambia.

He alleged the US was trying to incite Moslems in Zambia to form a political party because it wanted the Moslems to work against the Government as well as the Christians.

He said the US caused the conflict in Bosnia and was now intending to sponsor the Moslems in Russia to rise against their government.

“United we are a force yet America wants to divide us. Currently there are some plans to incite Moslems in China, India and Philippines to rise against their governments,” he charged.

Author: Rick Rozoff

Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.