What determines whether Western countries (and NATO) recognize separatist movements? (especially when comparing Kosovo and the Donbass)

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The Politicus
Feb 27, 2022 11:31 AM 0 Answers
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Consider the following scenario:

  • there is a region in a country inhabited primarily by a different ethnic group than the majority of the rest of the country, and has been living there and composing the local majority in that region even before the modern county itself came into existence.
  • that region wants to separate from the host country, and holds a referendum which votes nearly unanimously (over 90%) to separate from the country.
  • the host country regards the referendum as illegal, because according to its laws, for a region to leave, the entire country has to participate in the referendum, not just the region which wants to leave.
  • the country lost control over the region which is now de facto under control of the separatists, this has been ongoing for years, with frequent clashes among their "border", with increasing ethnic tensions and violence.

Now, the Western countries in general and NATO in particular, could either recognize the separatist region, or refuse to do so and support the government. In case of Kosovo they did the former, in case of Donbass they did the latter.

What is the cause for these cases to be handled so differently? Yes, in the latter case one might argue that they are in a rivalry with Russia and refusing to recognize those regions opposes Russian interests, but are there other reasons?

(please note that I'm not asking whether the decisions in case of Kosovo and in the case of Donbass are right or wrong, ethical or unethical. I'm only asking for the reasons these decisions were made the way they were made, regardless whether we agree or disagree with them. The question is aimed to further a better understanding of this decision making process)

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