This article addresses the question of how the Crimean case relates to Russia’s general understanding of territorial questions and border regimes. We examine the historical evolution of Russian discourse on borders and territorial questions and investigate to what extent they can explain Russia’s decision to annex Crimea. We will look into the principles of inviolability of borders and territorial integrity that sustain the status quo, and how this has been challenged by three partly interlinked doctrines: national self-determination, geopolitics, and historical rights. We argue that the discourse on territorial integrity and the status quo has predominated in Russia since the Cold War, and that this has not changed fundamentally, either before or after the annexation of Crimea. Russia does not seem to want to abolish the existing norms altogether or to advocate any clearly articulated reformist agenda. Rather, it picks and chooses arguments on an ad hoc basis, imitating Western positions in some other cases when departing from the basic norm of the status quo. Hence, we claim that Russia’s territorial revisionism is reactive, self-serving, and constrained by the desire to avoid changing the status quo doctrine to any great extent.
- 517 Valtio-oppi, hallintotiede