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June 23, 2017

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What Taiwan could learn from the crisis in Ukraine

The turmoil in Ukraine and the Russian military's occupation of Crimea has grabbed the attention of the international community. The crisis that occurred in faraway East Europe presents a lesson to all nations, one that even Taiwan can learn from.

The parliament of Crimea decided recently that the peninsula would hold a referendum later this month so that residents can decide whether to break away and join Russia or to stay with Ukraine.

Parliament's decision, along with Russian president Vladimir Putin's announcement that Russia would provide US$1.1 billion should Crimea decide to join Russia, has drawn sharp rebuke from the international community. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany and most nations would not recognize the change in sovereignty if Crimea is ceded to Russia. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also opposed the referendum, saying it will not help to maintain the region's stability.

It is obvious that Merkel made the statement from the standpoint of Germany and the European Union. Ukraine has been torn apart in the recent turmoil. Ukrainian-speaking residents living in the northwestern region want to from a closer relationship with the European Union, while Russian-speaking residents in the southeastern region want to be part of Russia. The EU wants to expand its sphere of influence into Ukraine, and it would not be content to see Crimea ceded to Russia.

It was reported that the clashes that broke out in Ukraine's capital Kiev were in fact a confrontation between the East and the West, where protestors were mostly pro-Western residents while riot police were mostly comprised of residents of the country's eastern half.

It is strange enough that two peoples in Ukraine with so many differences — in terms of culture, language and political preference — should live together within the same nation. It is even more incredible that the international community can dictate the fate of a county. Russia wants Ukraine, but Putin is not interested in taking a "dissected" Ukraine, either.

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