The Perils of Territorial Annexation

June 11, 2018 Topic: Politics Region: Eurasia Blog Brand: Paul Pillar Tags: RussiaPutincrimeaDonald TrumpUkraine

The Perils of Territorial Annexation

Trump’s proposal to invite Russia to return to the G-7 is valid, but it need not be a recognition of ownership of Crimea or the taking of a position regarding any other territorial dispute.

Trump doesn’t like the concept of a “rules-based international order.” Reportedly the U.S. delegation at the G-7 summit objected to use of that term in the summit communiqué. Trump probably does not understand the extent to which that order, which the United States had a huge part in shaping after World War II, works to the advantage of the United States . To the extent he is dwelling in the realm of slogans, which he probably is, then “rules-based international order” always will lose out to “America first” or “make America great again.” But focusing on one specific rule gets out of the realm of slogans and into well-defined norms of international behavior. Will Trump accept that a rule against states using military force to seize pieces of another state’s territory is in U.S. interests as well as the interests of international peace and stability?

Paul R. Pillar is a contributing editor at the National Interest and the author of Why America Misunderstands the World .

Image: A Russian serviceman stands near Ukrainian tanks on freight cars before the departure from Crimea to other regions of Ukraine in the settlement of Gvardeiskoye near the Crimean city of Simferopol March 31, 2014. Russia is withdrawing a motorized infantry battalion from a region near Ukraine's eastern border, the Russian Defence Ministry was quoted as saying by state news agencies on Monday. The United States says progress on resolving the East-West stand-off over Ukraine depends on Russia pulling back troops massed on the border. It was not clear whether other troops would pull back or had already withdrawn. REUTERS/Stringer