The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States has, after a long time in committee, approved a bill banning the US government from recognizing Crimea as a Russian region.
The decision was made unanimously on March 7th, according to the website of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Published on: Mar 8, 2019 @ 17:03
The text of the “Law on the non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea” was submitted to Congress on January 16th and was only now sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. If the bill is supported by both houses of Congress, it will be sent to president Trump for final ratification or veto.
At this point in time, it appears likely that the bill will pass both houses, given the political climate. The question remains as to whether Trump will veto the bill or not. Also at his disposal is the line-item veto – parts of the bill can be struck out by Trump, and then ratified.
This introduces more layers and complexity to the US political system. It is difficult at this time to project whether Trump will sign the bill.
Recently, in American media, was more hyperventilation about the Congress possibly moving forward with impeachment proceedings against Trump. The following day, Trump made a ‘180’ on Syria, and effectively renounced his plan to end the occupation of the beleaguered country.
However, Trump has used the question of recognizing Crimea as Russian as a very large bargaining chip, as a card that he has yet to finally play. Ideally, Trump would get Russia to give up most of Syria, and elements of its relationship with China, in exchange for a US supported initiative to gather global consensus that Crimea is an integral part of Russia.
The present discourse about redrawing the borders in the Balkans appears to be a smaller-scale test-balloon on the international diplomatic viability of such bold endeavors as redrawing maps.
Such changes have historically come as the precursor to, or in the aftermath of, a major war.
Nevertheless, it seems as a move against the lateral movement of Trump that congress would pursue such a bill. This, if passed and not vetoed in some form, would tie his hands to Congress’s foreign policy, and not the president’s.
The details of the bill in its present form are indeed problematic.
The document prohibits the US government “to recognize the de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over the Crimea, its airspace or territorial waters.”
It also prohibits “rendering any assistance”, which implies recognition of the region as part of Russia.
At the same time, the US president is allowed to make exceptions based on the “interests of the national security of the United States”.
Earlier in March, a scandal erupted over the indication of the nationality of the peninsula on Google maps. The company acknowledged that sometimes the region is incorrectly displayed by users from Russia, and corrected the situation. Now in Russia, the Crimea is shown as part of Russia, for some foreign users – as a disputed territory. In Ukraine, it appears as part of Ukraine.
Hence, the official reality is simulated based upon the audience in question.
In Ukraine, Google was called on to display the Crimea in the same way everywhere, namely, its alleged affiliation to Square. However, Google – if it wants to do any business in the larger and more lucrative Russian Federation, must adhere to the laws in the community (country) in which it operates. Hence its policy which appears as a variable policy.
Crimea became part of Russia following the results of the referendum in 2014. Then 96.77% of the inhabitants of the peninsula and 95.6% of the voters of Sevastopol voted for joining the Russian Federation. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the procedure was held in strict accordance with international law. Ukraine does not recognize the results of the plebiscite and still considers the peninsula its territory.
Should Congress push this bill forward, it places Trump in a difficult situation of having his hands tied on an otherwise useful weapon in his arsenal, or appearing to further actualize the criticism that he is a ‘Russian agent’.