After the change in government of Ukraine, Russia said that they had not sent troops into Crimea. This statement ended up being false, and Russia seized and annexed the region.

Recently Russia said that they are not providing military aid/training or motivation to the groups that have seized parts of eastern Ukraine.

Is anyone more or less likely to believe them now? And does will a lack of trust matter?

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    Imagine a world where Russia didn't lie about their troops. Putin just came out and said "yeah, those are our troops in Crimea." Russia's reputation would still have taken a hit. I don't think that it would have made a meaningful difference. Apr 24 '14 at 19:20
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    Faulty Premise: Russia's reputation in much of the West is pretty much about as in the crapper as it is possible to get. Jan 9 '15 at 18:33
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    I don't think anyone has ever trusted them in the first place; for decades, their government punished anyone who didn't follow the official version of facts. This is pretty much how it works in any dictatorship.
    – Thomas
    Mar 12 '20 at 11:29

In coldly realist terms, no. The only purpose for a state to retain credibility would be to use trust as a way to influence other states in their actions and thereby achieve the policy goals of the state. But a good reason for subterfuge and unofficial troop build-ups incipient to annexation is that it can be an effective way to achieve the policy goals of the state. It can also make it difficult to predict or hem in the behavior of the state that engages in misdirection.

So by engaging in misdirection, Russia has managed to annex the Crimea (probably for the foreseeable future) and in making it harder for opponent states to predict just what Russia will and won't do. That can be useful, especially for a state that wants to seem more powerful and wealthy than it actually is.

Trustworthiness makes sense if you want to pursue a strategy of conciliation and cooperation, and use only overt attempts at influence. But if Russia believes that cooperation is either unlikely to be very useful or that cooperation is not forthcoming (i.e. they expect the West to be unhelpful anyway), then it may pay off to engage in misdirection and cheating.

Note that all states will engage in hypocrisy, misdirection, self-serving statements, faux outrage, and so forth - all as posturing to serve larger goals that are not entirely congruent with public statements. The most common form of this is the impotent criticism - officially denouncing some act that the government has no intention of actually stopping. It's not a lie so much as highly misleading; it expresses an opinion but falsely implies that there's some building consequence to support the opinion.

  • All is fair in love and war. Between Ukraine and Russia, lovers are at war. They can end up in each other's arms at any moment. All governments bear considerable watching; and Iago is most honest. Jan 7 '15 at 9:20

Sure it does. Russia reputation is damaged by such admissions but it also shows that Russian authorities are still sober and calculating reasonably.

Luck of trust matters for foreign relations because it changes the way rational estimates are made by policy makers etc. In certain sense it resembles trust of financial counter parties when they are dealing with each other. If you don't have a trust you will have a loan with higher interest rate etc.

Other question why Russia behave this way. Knowing background of this and previous crisis (2008) I would say Russia is actually forced to do what it is doing. Loosing trust of the world and economic/financial loses are no longer matter for them because they are playing in game with much higher stakes - it is matter of life or death for Russia.

E.g. currently Russian elite is going thru total revamp of their standing both domestic and abroad. Domestically, the rise of ethnic russian national identity have changed political landscape in just an instant - ethnic russian majority got noticed finally by Putin. Abroad elite members have to seriously think to relocate properties and themselves because suddenly it no longer secure to be related to Moscow high circles and to be US or UK resident (note: not Israel). I doubt that such drastic changes are welcomed by their participants and initiated with any intent by anyone.

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    Your answer is too abstract. I'm finding myself unable to glean any meaningful information from it. Apr 17 '14 at 18:56
  • What I understand you to be saying is that they have damaged their reputation internationally, but they believe that there are more important gains to be made by focusing the public off of domestic issues. Is that what you meant? And if so, does it look like it is working?
    – kleineg
    Apr 17 '14 at 19:47
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    @kleineg yes, it was trade off between gain of taking Crimea back to Russia vs reputational damages abroad plus alienating of some Ukraine folks. Gain from taking Crimea is not only land grab plus people. it improves ideological standing of Kremlin internally - Kremlin kind of represents majority now
    – lowtech
    Apr 17 '14 at 20:56
  • > I would say Russia is actually forced to do what it is doing - it is matter of life or death for Russia. HARDLY! Putin at any time in his 20 years could have thrown his power and popularity behind a Singapore-style quasi-totalitarian govt focused on economic development. Singapore went from 3rd world to 1st in the time Putin's been in charge. He chose other paths, but the simple model of building skills and businesses is open to him every day. It's only by choice he's invading other countries. And the Crimean Anschluss doesn't help Russia anyway, it's a sink for money! Mar 13 '20 at 4:12

I beg to differ with the first answer. Ukraine allowed Russia to have 25,000 troops on Ukrainian soil because of a deal that allowed Russia to base their Black Sea fleet in the region, so no, Russia is yet to lie.

  • 1
    There were no international observers. The international community has condemned Russia's actions... Which kind of answers my own question. To be clear I am NOT asking whether the annexation of Crimea was morally right, I am asking if it has damaged Russia's reputation.
    – kleineg
    Apr 17 '14 at 20:08
  • @kleineg Mate, there were observers. Apr 17 '14 at 20:22
  • 3
    Observers like this?
    – kleineg
    Apr 18 '14 at 4:56
  • 8
    This answer would be more appropriate as a comment. It didn't answer the question.
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 19 '14 at 22:47
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    I haven't been following this story too closely, but didn't Putin say at some point that there weren't any Russian soldiers in Crimea? How is the agreement that you posted about make that less untrue? Apr 20 '14 at 16:07

The purpose of a question may vary. Some questions are a genuine request for information others are veiled statements. You question is half a question and half a statement. The gist of your question sounds like this: Do you agree that a person who lies is a liar? Of course, everyone would agree that a lying person is a liar. It’s a very simple question. So, I suppose, that your question is just another way to pronounce Russia a liar. And you are absolutely right that Russia is a liar in terms of the interpretations of the facts presented in your question. But would you consider it a lie if you deceived a killer which was going to kill your family? I doubt that. You would justify your lie by a higher motive. The truth is that everyone lies to some extent. The USA was lying about WMD in Iraq.

This is what Bush said:
There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction. … And so we're watching him very carefully. We're watching him carefully," Bush said in an Oct. 11, 2001, address.

Now we know, he was lying.

You can read more about it here http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/07/24/2117351/george-bush-wmd/

You are asking whether anyone more or less likely to believe Russia now? Well, the USA was lying and might be lying now. Did it hamper other countries to believe the USA? Whose lie is bigger? Who is the worse liar of the two of them? Trust to a certain country is not always driven by the presence of a pure conscience of the country you are about to partner with. It’s about your personal interests. Why does the EU support the USA in spite of the fact that the Bush administration was lying about Iraq? Because they gain some benefits from it, notwithstanding the lie of Bush. Politics is a dirty thing. The more you delve into it the more you understand that combining a pure conscience with politics always fails.

I also need to point out some points in your question which you present as facts while they are not so univocally accepted. These misconceptions lead you astray from the truth.

First of all, “change in government of Ukraine” is not the right way to classify what really happened. It wasn’t just a change but it was an armed uprising against the democratically elected President (V. Yanykovich). The next point is that to say “Russia seized and annexed the region” is not exactly right in this case. The absolute majority of the Crimean people voted for secession from the Ukraine and re-union with Russia. I, personally, voted for re-union with Russia and can tell you that nobody forced anybody to vote for something they didn’t want to. Everything was transparent, honest and liberal. Think of Kosovo for example and ask them who cut it off Serbia without even a referendum why they didn’t have a referendum and see who is a real liar.

Here is a good article by Neil Clark, where he raises good rhetorical questions about the matter of the truth and a lie in terms of recent events in Ukraine http://www.infowars.com/im-confused-can-anyone-help-me/

So, the main point is what you want to do by means of lying or telling the truth. If you think that he who tells the truth all the time is a good man then I’ll put an end to such a thinking of yours. Here is an example from the New Testament where Pharisees wanted to stone a woman taken in adultery. Were they telling the truth? Of course. Did NATO approve their attack on this woman? Of course. Did the EU with the USA admit that this woman was guilty and deserved death in a strict accordance with the law? Yes!!!! But the problem is that the real intention of that crowd was not to follow the truth but to use the truth for bloodshed and discredit Jesus. By the way, Jesus was a liar in their eyes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_and_the_woman_taken_in_adultery

But Jesus saved her from death and his intentions were higher than a formal truth. That is how I see actions of Russia in the Crimea. Russia acted like Jesus.

Here is one more website with videos, pictures and articles about the situation in the Ukraine.


  • 3
    This like South Carolina having a referendum to restore the 1864 constitution as part of the United States. It's illegal. If you are part of a country, you have to follow the laws and constitution of that country you are part of, otherwise its secession.
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 25 '14 at 15:31
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    (Ukraine's constitution was adopted in 1996. The 1992 Constitution of Crimea of course makes it an autonomous state within Ukraine. So it is yes, leaving the Ukraine) There are BTW plenty of legal ways for Crimea to become independent. Having a legal referendum would be a good start.
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 25 '14 at 15:54
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    Really? How about legitimate President V. Yanokovich? He was overthrown against the lawful procedures required by the Ukrainian Constitution by the way. If you want to be honest you have to be honest in all aspects but not only in those where it’s beneficial for you my friend. You are an avid proponent of a double standard policy. Shame on you! If you are so concerned with the law-abiding in Ukraine you had better have started your admonishing with the current illegal president Turchinov.
    – user1425
    Apr 27 '14 at 6:23
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    An unconstitutional autonomous state... I'm sorry, was there a problem with putting other options on the ballot? Usually when I'm voting for an increase school funding, ect the options are not 1) increase school funding 2) burn down the school
    – Razie Mah
    Apr 27 '14 at 6:24
  • 1
    Then why do you lie? It's you fantasy about an unconstitutional autonomous state... Learn what status Crimea had in accordance to the constitution of 1992.
    – user1425
    Apr 27 '14 at 6:28

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