Resolved: The West should recognize Crimea as under Russian Sovereignty
First round is for acceptance. Second round for opening statements. Closing round is for summation.
Justification 1: Demographics
Crimea is ethnically Russian due to the history of colonization. Ethnically, 58% of Crimea's population is Russian. This is key because it means the majority of the Crimean people have ties to Russia either through language, ethnicity, or even family. Even more important is that only 24% of Crimea's population is Ukrainian. Therefore, recognizing Crimea as being Ukrainian does not represent demographics.
Justification 2: Representative Democracy
A 2014 Gallup poll found 82.8% of Crimeans said yes to succession and ultimately annexation by Russia. In addition, it was the Crimean parliament, elected by Crimeans, who voted for succession from Ukraine. Therefore, it is within the desire of the Crimean populous to be annexed by Russia. These numbers make sense considering two things: 1. The demographics of Crimean (Being predominantly Russian) and 2. the Ukrainian political unrest at the time that demonstrated dissatisfaction of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politics. By recognizing Crimea as a sovereign territory of Russia, the West upholds the will of the local Crimeans instead of playing a geo-political game of hegemony. Representative democracy is an inherent principle within Western Liberal democracies. Not supporting it would undermine the very principles of these nations.
Justification 3: Regional Conflict
There are no egregious human rights abuses within Crimea committed by the Russian government that would warrant international intervention of either a military kind or a diplomatic kind. Because there is no international justification for intervention on the basis of human rights, this classifies as a regional conflict. The world is witnessing a movement within the populous of Eastern Ukraine (and now somewhat Moldova as well) towards reunification with Russia. Therefore there is no imperative to not recognize Russia's sovereignty in Crimea.
Justification 4: Human Life
By regarding Russia's annexation of Crimea as being illegitimate, the West promulgates the revolutionary fervor in Ukraine. By supporting the Ukrainian government in response to Russia's Crimean incursion, the conflict continues without resolution. People are dying due to a lack of that resolution. Therefore, Western intervention in a proxy war against Russia costs human life as well as money.
It is important to note that the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine should be viewed as two separate problems and thus be addressed individually. I am not arguing about the legitimacy of Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine. This debate specifically relates to Crimea. Both sides, however, can make arguments that the events of Crimea can IMPACT Ukraine.
I thank my opponent for providing his constructive case. I will now do the same and I will provide rebuttals to his arguments in Round 3.
This follows from the Territorial Integrity principle of the International Law,  which applies to all sovereign states that are a part of the United Nations. An external nation-state should never influence secessionist movements or border changes. A border change should only be carried out after a diplomatic agreement between the two states. If a state were to unilaterally cause a border change, that change should be considered illegal and void under International Law.
In the case of Crimea, an agreement regarding territorial transfer between Ukraine and Russia was never agreed upon, and, instead, Russia conducted a forceful annexation of Crimea, taking de facto control of the region and establishing a new government. This does not qualify as a lawful border change. If the West were to recognize this as a legal act, it would undermine the principles of International Law, which would result in undesirable consequences, such as the weakening of the Territorial Integrity principle worldwide.
Argument B: Russian actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine violated International Law.
While the annexation of Crimea was itself an illegal act under International Law, Russia conducted many additional actions which could be deemed illegal:
2) it supports additional secessionist movements, i.e. Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, and supplies them with military equipment and personnel. 
3) it frequently denies access to international monitoring organizations, such as OSCE 
4) evidence of war crimes 
The West has always strived to uphold the integrity of International Law and has always demanded that war crimes should be avoided. Russia has on several occasions violated these principles, and, thus, if the West makes concessions to Russia, these may be seen as an amnesty and exemption from many crimes. Similarly to the previous argument, any such concessions devalue the principles of justice and give unnecessary power to Russia, which is the aggressor state in this case.
Argument C: Russia is an expansionist state that has to be kept in check.
Following from the previous argument and looking at the current state of Russia, it becomes clear that currently it is an expansionist state, led by a nationalistic, authoritarian and corrupt government.  Its fairly recent wars, such as the Chechen and Georgian wars, and the creation of puppet states, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia, demonstrate that Russia does not uphold the principles of International Law, and that it engages in frequent human rights violations and war crimes. It seeks only its own interests and sees the rights of other sovereign countries as inferior to its own.
We know from historical examples that making concessions to aggressor states and ignoring their violations of International Law rarely brings any benefit. In fact, it often gives confidence to such states and results in even more territorial conflicts.  While I do not suggest that Russia will necessarily go on an expansionist military campaign à la Nazi Germany, I do think that it is a possibility that must not be ignored.
The West and, particularly, NATO serve as a balancing force against Russia and act as a safeguard against such possibilities. NATO maintains and promotes security for many European countries. For these reasons, the West should not allow Russia to spread beyond its current borders, especially if that is done through means that breach International Law.
My opponent points to international law as a guiding principle for the modification of borders between sovereign states. I believe that international law provides a fantastic tool for adequately handling this matters as well. When examining the Crimean situation, it is key to note that the Crimean parliament voted for succession prior to Russian annexation. Whether Russian troops entered Crimea prior to the vote or not is besides the point and if necessary should be evaluated as a separate violation of international treaties. However, Crimea did vote for succession. This succession vote is representative of the demographics of the region as I previously addressed in Justification 1. In a nation that is ravaged by civil war and a government (which at the time) was in complete turmoil, Crimea's succession vote should be respected as a form of democracy in a nation that was lacking it. In fact, by recognizing the legitimacy of the Crimean succession vote, we uphold certain standards of democratic representation within the region. They successfully left a country in turmoil, whose government did not represent them and joined a nation in which they have deep ethnic and linguistic ties.
Con attempts to link the Ukrainian conflict to Crimea's annexation. I believe this to be a wrong approach. Both should be viewed as separate. Crimea did not encounter a violent phase of succession. Crimea also had a semi-autonomous parliament and was capable of voting democratically for that succession. Eastern Ukraine is not like that. Instead, the Russian nationals in Eastern Ukraine has opted for war, which Russia has backed and supported. Yes, Russia's involvement in Ukraine is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law. An issue which should be handled. But that issue is separate from Crimea, in which these specific violations did not occur. Instead, the West should use the recognition of Crimea as a tool for the removal of Russian hard power in Ukraine.
In addition, cross-apply Justification 3 here in response to War Crimes. Those pertain to the Ukrainian conflict, not Crimean annexation.
This is a very good argument on side Con, but has some flaws. Yes, Russia is expansionist and should be kept in check. As Con points out, NATO and the United States both work to achieve this. I would say that supporting the Ukrainian government against the rebels is also a counter to Russian expansion. However, attempts to prevent Russian influence from spreading should not impede core values. Those values being human life, law, and democracy. Cross-apply my Justification 4 here to outweigh on human life.
There is a chance that Russia may be fueled by the recognition of Crimea and there is a chance that the revolutionary fervor may die down due to it. Either way, the values that the West must uphold in recognizing this as a regional issue of succession that involves no human rights violations and was performed in a democratic way outweigh.
Besides outweighing this point, it is also mitigated. Con agreed that NATO acts as a "balancing force" against Russia and a safeguard. The recognition of Crimea's right to succeed democratically is more than offset by the ability of NATO to counter Russian expansion elsewhere. Overall, Con mutes his own point.
Several key Justifications were brought up in the opening arguments that when combined outweigh any disadvantages mentioned by side Con.
1: Crimea's parliament was and is representative of the demographics of the region. Being annexed to Russia furthers this representation.
2: Crimeans wanted succession and annexation. The Parliament voted. Therefore democracy was upheld and should be recognized. Especially at a time when war-torn nations lack such democratic proceedings.
3: There are no international human rights abuses that classify Crimea as an international imperative for intervention.
4: Human life is upheld through side Pro by mitigating the tensions and calming the overall situation.
Ultimately, not only do Con's arguments have flaws and self-mitigate, but Pro outweighs any disadvantages.
Thanks, BraxtonC. In this round I will rebut your constructive case and I will defend & strengthen my own in the following round.
My opponent states that Crimea should be recognized as Russian territory because of its mostly Russian population. I find this justification completely inadequate. Firstly, country borders are not necessarily representative of the demographic situation and there is no reason to re-adjust these borders due to demographic reasons, especially if such adjustment goes against the interests of one of the parties involved.
Secondly, many of the countries that border Russia have regions where the majority of population consists of Russians. An example of this would be the Ida-Viru Country in Estonia, which borders Russia and which has a 73% Russian population.  Yet if Russia induced and supported a seccecionist movement in Ida-Viru and then annexed the region, I would hardly believe that anyone would say that Russia is in the right. Such actions should never be supported, even if Estonia was not part of NATO, as such actions go against the International Law.
2. Representative Democracy
My opponent brings up the 2014 Gallup Poll, yet he fails to mention that it only questioned 500 Crimeans.  This is not nearly adequate enough to make generalizations about the whole Crimean population. A simple poll is not enough to determine the majority opinion. For this, a large-scale referendum would be needed, which would be sanctioned by the official government of the state. Russia has conducted a referendum in Crimea, yet it is internationally agreed to be flawed and void. 
My opponent also mentions the Crimean parliament, although it was instated by the Russian Government and it does not represent a legitimate form of Government, representative of the Crimean population. 
3. Regional Conflict
My opponent classifies the Crimean conflict as a regional conflict, stating that it was the will of the Crimean population to secceed from Ukraine and join Russia. Yet he provides no evidence for this claim.
In reality, the Crimean conflict falls under annexation, rather than seccession, as it was conducted by the Russian government and military against the will of Ukraine, breaking International Law and violating former agreements with Ukraine. The Crimean coflict does not fall under national self-determination and seccession, because that would require no involvement from outside parties. Since Russia is the initial and only belligerent in Crimea, it falls under annexation, which is illegal. Thus, this is not a good justification at all.
4. Human Life
This is, perhaps, the only argument by my opponent that I would see as plausible. However, it still requires further proof and argumentation. We do not know whether the Russian-Ukrainian conflict would stop if Crimea was recognized as under Russian sovereignty. In fact, there is no reason to believe that it would.
My opponent believes that no war crimes occured in Crimea, however, there is evidence of human rights abuses in Crimea, and there are many reports about tortured military personell in Crimea, such as in the report by the Polish Parliament. 
While you may believe that these atrocities would end if the West recognized Crimea as a Russian territory, such a decision would completely ignore the role of the Russian government in the conflict. The Russian government has broken International Law and bilateral agreements, it has conducted human rights violations and war crimes, and it is likely that it would continue to support the pro-Russian militants in the war in Ukraine.
Should Russia be rewarded for this by giving them Crimea, a strategically important region of Ukraine? I think not.
To respond to Con's arguments regarding the justification of demographics. Justification 1 supports the idea of representative democracy in action in Crimea. The demographics of the peninsula provide credence to the idea that the Crimean parliament was acting in a way that adequately represented the interests and desires of the Crimean people, which it did. No where is the argument made that borders should be readjusted solely by the demographic nature of a territory or region.
2. Representative democracy
Con claims that only 500 Crimeans were polled regarding independence and eventual annexation by Russia. In the 2014 Gallap poll that may be the case, however, there were dozens of polls conducted during this time and they all reached the same conclusion. However, what is most telling is the second response...
My opponent claims that to truly understand the interests of Crimeans, a large-scale referendum would have been needed. There was in fact a massive referendum conducted not by Russia, as my opponent alleges, but by the Crimean parliament. In this referendum, over 1.4 million Crimeans voted in favor of Russian annexation. (80% in favor) Again, this number is logically sound considering the uncontested demographic representation discussed in Justification 1. There is in fact a Russian majority in Crimea that has interest in joining Russia. The numbers as well as logic flow to the Pro side on this point. Therefore, being that the majority did in fact want to reunify with Russia, the actions of the Crimean parliament were in fact in the interests of representative democracy. Not upholding this core value, the West is undermining its very nature by not recognizing Russian sovereignty in Crimea.
3. Regional Conflict
Con operates under the premise that Crimea was legally part of Ukraine during the event of Russian annexation. As proved by a combination of Justification 1 & 2, showing the legitimacy of Crimean succession, Crimea was not part of Ukraine at this time. In fact, for this brief period, Crimea was a sovereign state recognized by several nations globally. Therefore, when the Russian government officially annexed the Crimean peninsula, they were not absorbing a piece of Ukraine, but instead the nation of Crimea, which also voted for the same annexation. Therefore, the argumentation linking this to a violation of international law and therefore an international conflict falls.
4. Human Lilfe
Con lumps war crimes in with human rights while discussing this point. First of all, the distinction needs to be made between war crimes and human rights violations. Since there has been no war in Crimea, only in mainland Ukraine, it is impossible for war crimes to take place. Ignore this statement.
I will now address the rest of the argument pertaining to human rights violations. Pro can bite the argument of HR violations. They take place constantly around the world and in far greater numbers. In fact, even NATO and the U.S. have been investigated for war crimes in connection to Libya and Syria. NATO in particular for its intervention in the Balkans. Human rights violations does not have the quantification to outweigh other points. So even there are violations, Pro can accept this argument.
In addition, much of the Ukrainian conflict is fueled by Russia's annexation of Crimea. Ukraine still views Crimea as sovereign and has Western support for this point. While I do not believe the recognition of Russia's Crimean sovereignty would end the conflict, I do believe it would mitigate the determination of Ukraine through a decrease in Western support for its cause. Either way, Pro wins this argument by accepting whatever small amount of HR violations may have occurred in Crimea coupled with the possibility of saving thousands in Ukraine.
(Sorry for the lack of proper formatting. I have to fit in these responses during my short breaks at work!)
Biodome forfeited this round.
A note to everyone reading this debate: I forfeited the penultimate round, as I thought I had enough time to submit it. My mistake! You may award conduct points to Pro for this, and I will hope to catch up to him through the other points. Anyway, BraxtonC has kindly allowed me to copy-paste my Round 4 text into the last round. We will have to skip the final/summation round. See comments for further information.
Let's start with Pro's constructive case.
Justification 1: Demographics
In Round 2 my opponent put forward the idea that due to the fact that Crimea's population is mostly Russian, that makes the recognition of Crimea as a territory of Russia justified.
In Round 3 I rebutted this claim, showing that demographics should not decide which country a region should belong to. I gave the example of an Estonian country of Ida-Viru with a majority Russian population, and I tried to think of a hypothetical scenario where Russia would annex that region, induce a secessionist movement and claim sovereignty over it. I showed that giving this region to Russia would be hardly justified due to the breach of International Law, even if Estonia was not part of NATO.
In Round 4 Pro explains that Justification 1 argues that representative democracy should be the force for border change, not demographics. However, there is no mention of the Crimean Parliament or any democratic action in Justification 1, such as voting. The Justification rests solely on demographics, i.e. the ratio of Russians to non-Russians. Thus, my Round 3 example is relevant and my opponent failed to answer it.
Justification 2: Representative democracy
In Round 2 my opponent brought up a 2014 Gallup poll, which found that 82.8% of Crimeans supported succession and annexation by Russia. Moreover, he claimed that the Crimean parliament, elected by Crimeans, supported the succession.
In Round 3 I showed why this Justification was inadequate. I showed that the poll involved only 500 Crimeans, which is not nearly enough to make generalizations about the whole Crimean population. I told my opponent that only a full-scale referendum would show the true opinion. Furthermore, I rebutted my opponent's claim about the Crimean Parliament. While he said that it was a legal, elected form of government, I showed that this is not the case. The Crimean Parliament was instated by the Russian Government after the annexation of Crimea. It is not legitimate, for it was not elected. Thus, it cannot be an example of representative democracy.
In Round 4 my opponent says that there were many other polls with similar conclusions. However, he did not provide any concrete examples for me to analyse. Therefore, this statement can be ignored. He also mentioned that a referendum did take place, and that it was conducted by the Crimean Parliament, not Russia. I must once again reiterate the fact that the Crimean Parliament was instated by Russia after the annexation of Crimea. It was not by the will of the Crimeans, nor Ukraine to instate such a Parliament. The Crimean Parliament consisted of many people that were put there by the Russian Government, and thus fully and unconditionally supported it.  The resulting referendum was thus illegitimate, but even if it were a legitimately initiated referendum, its poor wording would render it useless and void.  The bottom line is, all actions following the annexation of Crimea were illegitimate, forced by Russia's Government through military action, and did not contain even the slightest grain of democracy or legitimacy. 
Justification 3: Regional Conflict
In Round 2 my opponent claimed that there were no egregious human rights abuses within Crimea, committed by the Russian government, that would warrant a military or diplomatic intervention.
In Round 3 I gave an example of human rights violations within Crimea, conducted by the Russian military. I argued that these atrocities justify the Western skepticism regarding Russia, and Russia is in no way a country that should be given Ukrainian territory.
In Round 4 my opponent claims that Crimea was a legitimate, independent state, recognized by several nations globally. This is a completely misleading statement. As I have shown during this debate, Russian actions within Crimea was the force that initiated and conducted the secessionist movement. It was not a democratic action by any definition of the word. Moreover, this "international recognition" that my opponent mentions involves Russian non-UN puppet states or countries with pro-Russian interests, such as Cuba, North Korea or Syria.  Moreover, my opponent ignored the fact that the absolute majority of UN members do not recognize Crimea as a Russian territory.  Thus, Crimean annexation remains a breach of International Law.
Justification 4: Human Life
Pro asserts in Round 2 that by not recognizing Crimea as a Russian territory, the West allows the atrocities in Ukraine to continue.
In Round 3 I showed that this is not the case, because we have no reason to believe that these atrocities would stop. I showed that Russia is a malignant country that ignores any territorial rights of Ukraine and that there is no reason to reward such behaviour.
In Round 4 my opponent says that human right violations are not sufficient, and that the West such nevertheless support Crimea recognition as part of Russia. He thus dropped most of my points and even brought up red herrings and tu quoque fallacies about war crimes conducted by NATO and the U.S. I see no reason to respond to these, as these are not the scope of the debate.
My own case
In round 2 I brought up 3 main arguments why Crimea should remain part of Ukraine.
Argument A discussed International Law, and the necessity for bilateral agreements, Argument B discussed Russian breaches of various agreements and International Law, and Argument C discussed Russia's aggressive and expansionist behaviour.
In Round 3 my opponent dropped most of my concerns regarding International Law and Bilateral agreements. He discussed the supposedly democratic Crimean Parliament and voting, which I have shown to be utterly false, as it is illegitimate.
My opponent's insistence that the Ukrainian-Russian conflict should be treated separately from the Crimean conflict is unsubstantiated, because both of these involve the same aggressor - Russia. The fact that Russia breaks multiple laws makes Russia untrustable and it should not be rewarded. My opponent also failed to discuss my important points, such as the 1994 memorandum.
My opponent says that my third argument is not good enough, since NATO is already balanced with Russia. But he completely ignores that Crimea is an important strategic region, giving military access to the Black Sea region. This is thus invalid point, as giving Crimea to Russia would harm the NATO-Russia military balance.
This concludes the debate. I'd like to thank my opponent for instigating this - it's definitely a very interesting topic. Thanks for reading!
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