The West has condemned the upcoming referendum in Crimea as “illegitimate” and is preparing sanctions against Russia. However, the West’s seemingly random policy on other referendums hints at a double standard in their governments’ rhetoric.
Crimea will vote Sunday whether to remain an autonomous region in Ukraine or to join with Russia. Western leaders have claimed the referendum is a farce and that Russian forces have occupied the region. Moscow, however, maintains there has been no such invasion and the referendum represents the Crimeans’ right to self-determination.
In the past the West has not batted an eyelid when countries sought to hold referendums and in some cases actively supported them.
Washington was quick off the mark with Kosovo, backing the region’s independence two years before the UN declared it was legal in 2008. NATO forces intervened 1999, carrying out a massive bomb campaign on targets in Serbia and in Kosovo. Human Rights Watch reported that over 500 civilians were killed in NATO’s incursion into the former Yugoslavia.