A very close high school friend, Dave Wise, published an article Towards a Diplomatic Solution in Ukraine on a John Hopkins University site.

Dave happens to be friend “F1” who I referred to on Tuesday in Annexation by Force; Three-Part Reality; Actions vs. Words; Paper Legalities.

Dave believes the solution to this involves the UN and international law.

In an email exchange Dave commented …

The reality is that the international community overwhelming does not recognize the annexation. Annexation by force is no longer how the world does business and that is what is at stake here. That is why it cannot be allowed to stand.

He repeated that viewpoint in depth, in the link at the top. I maintained (and still do) a Three-Part Reality.


  1. Crimea is again part of Russia whether the world community likes it or not.
  2. The annexation will stand.
  3. The only thing that can change the above outcome is another major war.

Can You Get There From Here?

Dave states the “internal transfer of Crimea to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954 was essentially an internal transfer within the USSR and should have probably been undone given the long history of Crimea and the fact that Crimea is the location of numerous important Russian military bases, not the least of which being the home port of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopo.

On that we certainly agree.

Yet, under Dave’s “diplomatic solution” thesis, Russia is entitled to Crimea only if recognized by international law, including an “orderly  secession” in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution, in which “Crimea would be established as a protectorate of the United Nations before a legitimate vote returned Crimea to Russia.

Quite frankly, that international law solution is laughable.

Once again Dave, F2, and I exchanged emails on the topic.

I chimed in …

In spite of all the anti-Russian rhetoric, note that Putin still has not invaded Eastern Ukraine even though he has had numerous opportunities.

As far as Dave’s proposal goes, he once again bases it on some sort of “international law” thesis even though he admits Crimea should not be part of Ukraine.

As a practical matter, if Russia initially tried to abide by Dave’s vision of “international law”, Crimea would still be part of Ukraine unless Ukraine agreed to the proposal or the US and Europe imposed Sanctions on Ukraine. The odds of that were essentially zero.

Ironically, Dave’s vision of “international law” as the “diplomatic solution” is only possible now because Russia did not pursue an “international law” solution in the first place!

F2, my lawyer friend replied …

Yep, Mish, on this we agree. There will be a diplomatic solution. Its formulation will have nothing to do with law. After the decision-makers, the decision-makers’ top assistants, security, and the really important personal valets are out of the room, the government bureaucrat lawyers will be left with a bare light bulb to write up something that explains what was done in legalese. And the legal document will describe the solution as accurately as Genesis describes the creation of the universe.

The best thing about this mess is Putin did not invade Ukraine and a diplomatic solution is not only possible but a near-certainty.

That said, Ukraine may fester over this internally for years.


Three weak links in the law thesis chain.

  1. Ukraine would never have gone along with a law thesis without Russia first taking Crimea.
  2. Escalating sanctions not only won’t work but will hurt Ukraine, Europe, Russia and eventually the US
  3. Apply enough pressure and you start a war – a real war or global trade war

Might there be a diplomatic solution now? Yes, in fact it is highly likely, but probably more along the lines F2 suggested than what Dave thinks should happen. Following a negotiated solution, the US, Ukraine, and Russia will all blow trumpets saying they won, while singing the praises of peace, motherhood, apple pie, and international law.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock