STAUNTON- Alexander Borodin of the Russian Academy of Sciences has a modest proposal to solve the conflict between the West and Russia over the latter’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The plan is simple- build Russia a mock Crimean peninsula that it can safely annex and occupy without infringing on the territorial integrity of any of its neighbors.
“We’ve already seen China push its claims in the South China Sea with the building of artificial islands,” Borodin said.
Artificial island built by the People’s Republic of China. Borodin suggests Russia could built an artificial island as a stand-in for the Crimean peninsula.
“It’s not too much of a stretch for Russia to build its own artificial Crimean peninsula somewhere else in the Black Sea, or perhaps even in the Pacific Ocean.”
According to Borodin, this would solve several problems, the most obvious being the conflict with Ukraine and the West over Russia’s continued occupation of the disputed territory. He pointed out that by building its own Crimean peninsula however it wants, Russia could return the real Crimean peninsula back to Ukraine. This, along with a full pull out in Ukraine’s Donbas region would fulfill the conditions for the full removal of sanctions against Russia.
“As the situation stands now, Putin can’t let Crimea go,” Borodin explained.
“The annexation is what put his popularity through the roof. It’s a major pillar of his continuing support. But the initial euphoria has been wearing off in recent years due to economic hardship. What can Putin do? Re-annex Crimea? He certainly can if Russia builds its own artificial Crimea.”
Borodin said that a Russian-built Crimea could be settled with Russian citizens which the government would have to “save” periodically, perhaps even once a year. This way, the Russian military could repeatedly occupy the “peninsula” and carry out a “referendum,” each time giving the Russian President a massive boost in popularity.
“Obviously being able to annex the territory of another country repeatedly, in a safe environment, without any consequences, would be a great boon to the Russian people,” Borodin said.
“There are those in power who say that Russia is a natural empire and that empire is the only thing that can unite the Russian people. This would allow Russia to preserve this tradition without offending its neighbors.”
But while his plan allows Russia to safely annex territory without any of the usual side-effects of imperialism and colonialism, Borodin warned of potential drawbacks, especially what he calls “diminished returns.”
Borodin compares the effect to what heroin addicts call “chasing the dragon,” a slang term used to describe how addicts often keep using the drug in a vain attempt to recapture the feeling of their first high. To avoid this problem, Borodin said the frequency of annexations should be kept very low at first. He also suggested a program similar to methadone treatment, whereby between annexations the Russian military stages a fake buildup of military forces along a mock border constructed somewhere well within the territory of the Russian Federation.
While he admits potential drawbacks to the plan, Borodin states he’s confident that the benefits would easily outweigh them. For example, planning the construction of the new Crimean peninsula means it could be located in an area more suitable for building a bridge connecting it to the mainland. Or planners could simply make it an actual peninsula already connected to Russia, unlike the original Crimea, which is connected to Ukraine.
“This plan would represent a major step forward in improving relations between Russia, Ukraine, and the West,” Borodin said.
“But most of all, Russians will truly be able to say the Crimea is theirs. In fact, they could say it every few years if they wish!”