In our shared office we have a whiteboard which operates under the assumption that the best way to author a journal article is to begin with the title and work backwards. Make of this what you will, meanwhile of course events in Crimea are not remotely funny at all if you live there, or as it turns out now anywhere in Eastern Ukraine if not the rest of the country.

The Baltic states are concerned that the fates of Crimea,Transdniestria, Abkhazi and South Ossetia may soon be theirs. Commentators if not scholars are musing over a new era, the end of one, or whether the previous 20 years were an illusion. Ukraine has been compared to Finland, Austria and Georgia and has managed to put Czechoslovakia back on the map (literally). NATO is either struggling or revitalised. Russia is either reacting to Western strength or Western weakness.

Economic interdependence is either already working its magic and applying pressure on Russia, or preventing meaningful sanctions from being enacted, and that’s assuming you think sanctions should be applied. The EU is either an inspiration or to paraphrase the U.S Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, a cack handed foreign policy actor unable to apply its vaunted soft power.  Elsewhere China is twisting its principles, playing realpolitik, noting the precedent or maybe even doing all three. And The UN, well The General Assembly said one thing and The Security Council said nothing.

This is just a selection of some of the commentary that has been available since November last year, but what is the discerning IR scholar to make of it all?

  1. Don’t get caught up in the hype of the moment, or as it it better known as, 24/7 media
  2. Don’t forget that there will be a lot going on behind the scenes that we mere mortals aren’t privy too.
  3. Don’t reach immediately for the most convenient event from history aka “The Sudetenland Syndrome”
  4. Remember that sovereignty matters in International Relations but probably not in the way that you think it does…
  5. Apply a theory rather than picking some facts to back up your world view – those alleging the crisis is a product of American weakness are particularly egregious offenders here, picking a series of otherwise disparate events to suit their narrative, which is of course set to war drums…

You’ll get no predictions from me, if only because I remember opining that Libya would be largely unaffected by the Arab Spring…