"To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal," Putin said in a Wednesday address.
"It's not a bluff," he added.
Do recall that Russia is not the USSR. Unlike Stalin there are now constraints that are in fact quite-democratic; in fact Putin is constrained by the Duma, which must pass laws to enable his acts and power. We may well disagree with the determinations of the legislature there just as we might with regard to Mexico, Canada or France but what's unmistakable is that said power is in fact delegated, not predicated on dictatorship or monarchy.
In other words Putin is not Hitler, nor is he Stalin. He might, however, be somewhat akin to Xi.
There are referenda being taken in one and part of a second province of eastern Ukraine as I write this. These are areas of the nation that historically, before Ukraine was "spun off", were Russian. The people there identify as Russian and the land shares a border with Russia. In the case of Crimea it was literally purchased by Russia long before the USSR (an "agglomeration" of lands) existed.
I have, as you might expect, plenty of questions about the legitimacy of said polling; is it truly free in that it expresses the will of the people in these parts of the nation? I don't know the answer to that but what I do know is that if the people of a land have the right of self-determination when it comes to their government that extends, with certainty, to them choosing to ally themselves with a government that happens to be immediately-adjacent on one of the sides of the land in question.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Therefore the limits of said inquiry are whether the referendum was in fact representative -- that is, is it fraudulent or was it freely taken among the people of said land? That's the beginning and end of it, and if it was freely taken and results in said people choosing to be Russian in terms of their legal identity then the expelled government is in fact an unlawful occupier unless they immediately and peacefully depart.
If someone forcibly invades your land then whatever you must do to expel them is just.
Everyone lies during war, and virtually everyone who wants a war lies too. All the time. One cannot take anything from parties with a vested interest in the outcome as having any veracity whatsoever without strict proof, which is almost impossible to obtain due to active obstruction. As a result I cannot offer an opinion as to whether these votes are just or not and neither can anyone else.
But what we must ask ourselves is whether we, as the United States, are willing to commit our nation including both material and treasure to enforce another nation's demand that people live under their rule who do not wish to be so because there is a very real argument that in fact that is going on right now.
Should we not first determine if indeed any such claim is in fact legitimate or manufactured nonsense before we offer said commitment?