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Partition Ukraine Now Before It Is Too Late



Superpowers love their geographic boundaries despite the fact that most have no basis in history. Time and time again we have seen world wars, civil wars and senseless violence break out over who really belongs in what country. We have seen literally millions die over these artificial barriers.

Most of the nations in the Middle East were created by energy companies, Africa was cruelly divided by colonists around the early part of the 20th Century, the Balkans have been the source of one war after another, and numerous ethnic groups are still fighting for their 'homelands'.

With each passing day, the stakes in Ukraine grow higher and higher. Civil war is a real possibility, the resumption of the Cold War is not out of the question, thousands could still die, and entire cities could be destroyed. Any sane person only has to look to Syria to see the consequences of endless civil war.

Count me among those who were moved to tears by the barricades in Kiev. The entire scene was right out of Les Miz except with a different ending. You could literally hear 'the people sing' as they gave their lives for freedom. If just somehow we could just hit 'pause' and that would be the end of the story.

Unfortunately, that is not happening. President Putin, who has blood on his hands in Syria and so many other places, is determined to use any means necessary to exert the influence of the Russian Bear and save his own sad face. The major powers have a very narrow window to restore sanity to this situation and seek creative solutions before the entire world and the people of Ukraine are thrown into another spiral of brutal violence.

Right now it is clear the Russians and their surrogates are determined to keep the strategically placed Crimea. This peninsula on the Black Sea has historically been the source of much pain. Over half a million died in the Crimean War between the superpowers in the mid-1800's. Stalin deported the entire population of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula and most died in that process. Crimea became completely Russian and currently most of its population are Russian speakers.

Bp7In 1954, Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev 'gave' Crimea to the Ukrainian people. Khrushchev, who was a native Russian, rose to power through the Ukrainian Communist Party. Some say it was an act of madness created in a drunken stupor and others consider it a brilliant move by the Russian leader.

Ukraine is split between those who consider themselves Europeans and those who have a historic bond to Russia. The split has been clear in election after election. There are enough facts and figures to sanely partition Ukraine now before it is too late. Minimally, give the damn Crimea back to Russia where it historically belongs.

Drawing the 'line in the sand' over fake boundaries is inviting massive violence, international confrontation and death and destruction. Over what?

Read this National Geographic article on the history of Ukraine to fully understand why we can fully resolve this crisis peacefully and sanely. The history of Ukraine has been one of great struggle and a place that major powers have used and abused over time.

The solution is simple. Let the European section continue as the Ukraine and allow the Russian section to vote on their future either as Russians or a new nation. Finally, return Crimea to the Russians.

America has a unique opportunity to look at the concept of nation states in an innovative way that is more suited to the 21st century and not a return to the 19th Century. Let's embrace it now or the consequences may be horrific.

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  1. David Mixner
    In first place for the Neville Chamberlain award.

    Posted by: RayRay | Feb 28, 2014 4:29:55 PM

  2. Egads. For those of you who think US foreign policy has something to do with "facts", let's just say you're in for a big surprise. US foreign policy re the Crimea and Black Sea region is governed by agreements made with the UK to divide up the "Ottoman World" after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. The UK got control of Iraq and Palestine, the US got the Arabian peninsula, etc. The Soviet Union tried for decades to gain influence but mostly succeeded where UK was kicked out after the fall of the British Empire (Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc). Putin would like nothing more than to complete the old Soviet agenda for the region. You think it matters what percentage of the Ukraine population is Russian?? Ridiculous. We're still fighting over Syria ninety years after the fall of the Ottomans. We held on to Mubarak because Sadat switched sides during the cold war from Soviet to American (after the UK got kicked out in the fifties). The Turks are still fighting for control over northern Iraq since the eastern half of Turkey is not actual Turkish but Kurdish. It's a messy region of the globe.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2014 4:57:19 PM

  3. I'm sorry to see all these intemperate comments. One thing they do confirm is that the solution is decidedly not simple, for many reasons that have been stated, especially the failed strategy of treating this as another example of how the superpowers can carve up the world.
    But another problem is succumbing the failed romance of "national identity." I grant that Mr. Mixner doesn't invoke it explicitly, but we now have about a century of bad sovereignty decisions based in the belief that nations can be defined by ethnic and linguistic homogeneity or "majorities." It's been made obvious that it doesn't work; that diverse countries (like the US) end up far more stable; that using ethnic and linguistic identity as the foundation while allowing for minorities just treats the minorities as strangers and second-class groups; and that ultimately national boundaries and constitutions are going to be about tangled collocations of competing interests.
    In other words, the proposal is just founded on very popular illusions. I'd like to think actual diplomats will present a much more realistic position than this.

    Posted by: coolbear | Feb 28, 2014 5:01:53 PM

  4. Most of the other comments seem pretty hostile to Dave Mixner. I appreciate this kind of an article on a gay blog. He opens the discussion. He seems to be genuinely concerned about peace and the loss of life.

    Posted by: Bob | Feb 28, 2014 5:22:41 PM

  5. 17% of the population of the Ukraine identifies as "Russian" (their census) and you're ready to hand over 50% of the country? Did Putin pay you?

    Posted by: Anthony Collerton | Feb 28, 2014 6:19:41 PM

  6. The people who live there should make the decision, and apparently they are in the process of doing just that. In general, I agree that partitioning is better.

    What a difference it would have made if Iraq had been partitioned: There could have been a northern part for the Kurds, a southern part for Shiites and a central part for Sunnis. Everyone in their own corner instead of perpetual civil war.

    If the USA could partition itself into red and blue states, well, who knows.....

    Posted by: james st. james | Feb 28, 2014 7:10:07 PM

  7. This is absolutely appalling? Did you realize part of what those people on the Maidan were fighting for is gay rights? That's right. Pro-Europe also means pro-gay rights. Those against the EU deal publicly say their objection is because Ukraine would have to approve anti-discrimination legislation such as that voted down in the Rada last May.

    It's not so easy to draw boundaries either. Sure, maybe a majority of voters sided with Yanukovych in the previous election. But a lot of people, particularly young people in that part of the country, want to be part Europe. A division would create a huge, international displacement of people, a humanitarian aid crisis of huge proportions.

    This post is written by someone who obviously knows little of Ukraine, and the level of hubris is astounding. Can you imagine someone suggesting Americans divide our nation? And yet somehow it's fine when it's foreign and obscure. I lived in Ukraine once. I have people I love in Ukraine. This crap isn't helping them.

    Posted by: Scott | Feb 28, 2014 9:38:10 PM

  8. Why are people so certain that ethnic Russian citizens of Eastern Ukraine really want to live in an autocratic oligarchy instead of a western democracy?

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 28, 2014 9:47:33 PM

  9. Why does the notion of "giving Russia the Crimea" remind me a bit of giving Germany the Sudetenland in 1938. Wake up people, Putin doesn't just want the Crimea, he wants Russian domination over all of eastern Europe again.

    Posted by: Ken | Feb 28, 2014 10:30:54 PM

  10. I've always thought Mixner's positions and predictions as "political strategist" were laughably wrong. But Mixner really outdoes himself when he stretches the bounds of his ignorance to opine on foreign policy.
    Well, he's a close friend of Andy so, as with Richard Socarides' amateurish drivel, Mixner's mindless bloviating will always have a home here at Towleroad. That's how it works, kids.

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 28, 2014 10:37:26 PM

  11. Reality check: Putin wasn't the one who wanted to bomb Syria. That was our very own bloodthirsty neocon chickenhawks in Congress. Thankfully, the American public slapped them down, with a little help from President Putin. Let's keep it real shall we?

    Posted by: Kevin | Mar 1, 2014 12:26:06 AM

  12. For those so adamant about a "united Ukraine" you could fly over there and fight for it. Instead of just suggesting someone else spill their blood. (I'm sure they will provide you with a gun.)

    War is always so appealing to those who have no intention of fighting in it. Or paying for it. (The way Republicans like a foreign "adventure" now and then as long as our military is paid by middle class taxes and fought by the working class.)

    Obama has kept us out of further trouble, and I'm sure this is not lost on the voters. Let's hope he can keep us out of the Ukraine.

    Posted by: james st. james | Mar 1, 2014 9:33:47 AM

  13. One more point for those who hate the thought of partitions:
    North/South Korea
    North/South Viet Nam
    East/West Germany

    All resulted after a war. Why not just skip the war and go right to the partition?

    Posted by: james st. james | Mar 1, 2014 1:47:12 PM

  14. I think the big lesson for countries with nuclear weapons is not to give them up. Wasn't one of the promises given to Ukraine for giving up nuclear weapons was the guarantees of its territorial unity by Russia, USA, and UK?

    Posted by: Victor | Mar 1, 2014 2:06:29 PM

  15. You just can't cut Ukraine off from her passage way to the Black Sea. Ukraine MUST have a sea port.

    Posted by: George Brock | Mar 1, 2014 2:57:36 PM

  16. I find Ukraine without the article to be clumsy. I shall continue to call it The Ukraine and The Congo The Congo.

    Posted by: enchantra | Mar 1, 2014 4:33:39 PM

  17. But we're supposed to tolerate illegal and mass immigration until we partition America. Remind me again which ethnicity David
    Mixner is.

    Posted by: enchantra | Mar 1, 2014 4:36:33 PM

  18. So how did that partition of Sudetendenland from Czechslovokia go for world peace in the '30s? Ethnic Germans being 'threatened' by those Czechs. Baltic States are already wondering when Putin will decide that Russia needs more room for the Motherland.
    If the EU and the US capitulate...who will be crowned the new Nevile Chamberlain? "Peace in our time"...for a few months.?

    Posted by: sword | Mar 3, 2014 10:18:38 AM

  19. This is the worst article I've ever read. The writer would have probably supported Hitler's partition of Poland for peace in our time if out meant more Cosmos at The Ritz and new galleries in Bushido.
    Freedom and peace take work and not the appeasement of anti gay Vlad.

    Posted by: steve | Mar 24, 2014 2:14:43 AM

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