A thought experiment

A thought experiment.

Imagine that the states of Virginia/West Virginia have become an independent country, ok?

They would secede from the USA but this wouldn’t automatically kill all the ties would it? The newly independent country of Virginia would remain closely tied by ethnicity, history, culture and economics, and many people living there and in mainland USA would still consider it to be a part of the US at some level. The USA also leases an important military base in West Virginia, where pro-US sympathies are particularly strong.

Now imagine that Virginia’s president is about to sign a deal for closer economic co-operation with the USA, but at the last minute a group of Virginians who dislike the USA and favour Russia organise a revolt, depose the elected president, throw out the members of the Virginian congress who traditionally support the USA and declare a new government that is going to align with Russia.

The members of this new, unelected government then announce they will go into West Virginia, throw out the pro-US local government there and and create a new revolution, right slap bang on the US border and threatening the US military base there.

In response the US government beefs up its troops at the base and moves to protect the government buildings before the pro-Russians can get there.

Russia calls this an act of provocation. and is supported by both Europe, Mexico, Canada and the United Nations.

The US, feeling further threatened and isolated, encourages West Virginia to declare independence from pro-Russian Virginia.

Russia demands the US “stop meddling” in Virginia and sends Russian fighter jets to patrol the Canadian and Mexican borders.

West Virginia holds a referendum on whether it wants to remain in pro-Russia Virginia or rejoin the USA. The vote is 97% in favour of aligning with America.

Russia calls the referendum illegal and claims the USA is annexing West Virginia. It imposes sanctions on the US and persuades Europe, Mexico and Canada to do the same.

Russia also claims that the US troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and in Tennessee are threatening an invasion and should be pulled back. In response it sends more Russian fighter jets to patrol the Canadian border and threatens to put missile defence shields in Mexico.

When thousands of Virginians loyal to the US, who don’t want to be ruled by Russia begin rebelling, Russia accuses the US of provocation, and threatens even more sanctions. Virginia says it is now at war with the US and asks Russia to send troops to help defend it.

Everyone in Russia and Europe keeps calling president Obama a new Hitler intent on conquering the world.

The US suggests a deal wherein Virginia can be partners with both Russia and the US. Russia ignores the deal and keeps telling the US to pull its troops out of Fort Bragg or face “consequences”


1. Who is being aggressive and destabilising in this scenario?
2. Whose behaviour is truly Hitlerian?
3. What should Russia and the UN do to help de-escalate?

a: send even more troops and make even more threats?
b: stop sending troops and making threats?


1 thought on “A thought experiment

  1. Ummm… that’s a difficult one!

    Let me hint a bit. There are also Crimean forums, chats, blogs, there are webcams with archives for a few years back, journalists, etc. – it’s a big place, they write and say something as well, they upload videos on youtube etc.

    Check those.

    It took me half a day to come to a conclusion that Crimea was lost for Ukraine by December 2013, may be earlier.

    Why it decided not be independent?
    They announced they want to use Chapter 46 of Ukrainian constitution and have a referendum on leaving mother-state (Ukrainians really need to edit their constitution, at the very least delete that article if they are against federation!)
    The hysteria that followed made them think about example of S.Ossetia and Abhasia – both are independent all right, but recognized by one and a half countries – closed for entire world.

    Crimea didn’t want to be closed for the world. Crimea’s main business is tourism. How to be a tourism country if no one can enter it? That hysteria really gave them no choice. Result – they changed their plans and said they didn’t want independence, but wanted to change a mother-country instead.

    Some of my friends say: we should be allowed to have referendums on whether we accept somebody.

    I always answer: there is an article in Russian constitution about any region being able to gather a vote and leave Russia. It happened once in the 90s (Chechnya -> Ichkeria), it happened in XIX-early XX century (Poland and Finland gathered such votes and were allowed to leave), it was present but didn’t work only in USSR time. It is the same article Ukrainians copy-pasted into their constitution (chapter 46). Nobody guaranteed that what works for us, will work for them.

    There is also an article that any foreign country can gather a vote and join Russia.

    But there is no article saying that Russia should vote whether to take them or not. What’s possible though is to take, and then to convince them to leave, if we are not happy. But we can’t refuse if someone’s asking.

    May be, we should add such article as well, just in case? Right now if Donetsk asks, we can’t refuse. So we pretend to be deaf, with no legal grounds.


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