Crimea is not Kosovo: Seven Arguments against a False Comparison

The events in Crimea have brought the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence back into focus. Russia has played a double game with Kosovo, saying that Western intervention in Kosovo and the state’s independence were illegal, but justifying the occupation and annexation of Crimea by citing Kosovo as a precedent.This policy note rejects the cooptation of intervention in Kosovo and Kosovo’s declaration of independence to legitimate a state taking territory from another. Starting from the cause of intervention and finishing with the act of changing borders, it details seven important differences between Kosovo and Crimea that debunk comparisons before discussing what the referendum means for Kosovo. Crimea’s most obvious danger is that it brings back the debate over Kosovo as a precedent. While this policy note has pointed out why Kosovo is not an applicable precedent for Crimea, Russia and Crimea’s use of Kosovo as a precedent may inflame the fears of those states that do not recognize Kosovo and believe it set a precedent for regions to secede unilaterally. This could delay potential future recognitions. To access the Policy Note, please click here.