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Charge up your Light Brigades, Chaps! It’s Crimea 2.0!

By February 28, 2014January 7th, 2023Jennifer's Russia Blog

Lucy Milne made two rather foolhardy bets last night over the sukiyaki and sushi.



She bet 50 bucks that Hillary Clinton will absolutely be the next president of the United States. Not just the Democratic nominee, but President. I took that bet, and have already decided to invest the proceeds in Sarah Happ lip scrub, which is a game changing product if ever there was one.

Then Lucy, clearly under the influence of too much of the mediocre chardonnay they serve at the Blossoming Sakura, bet another 50 bucks that if/when Russia annexed/took over/conquered the Crimean peninsula, money would change hands, i.e. that Russia would pay for the Crimea. In Lucy’s view, this would be a win-win situation: Russia would get its naval bases in Sevastopol back and Ukraine’s tottering economy would get a much-needed injection of cash.
I’m glad Lucy has so much disposable income – the oligarchs are clearly traveling like never than ever. I took that bet too, because you know what?

I’ve lived with a Russian for 20 years and I can tell you this: while ready at the drop of a hat to go out for milk and come back with a Cartier watch, no Russian is prepared to pay money for something they can get for free.

What is the Crimea and is it worth it?

I’ve been to the Crimea and yes, it’s worth it. It is Russia’s Florida: a lush, subtropical, balmy peninsula, washed on three sides by the Black Sea. Sochi was only invented as a copycat of Yalta, the elegant nineteenth century playground of the Romanovs. It was “gifted” to the Ukrainians by Khrushchev in the 1950s, and wound up in their hands after the break up of the Soviet Union. A sizeable Russian-speaking and Russian-centric population lives there today. There are also Russian naval bases there, which, as I say in Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow
is awkward for everyone concerned.

And then there are the Crimean Tatars.

One of my best friends is half Tatar and I’m here to tell you, don’t mess with the Tatars. No one who is Russian will listen to me, though. The hate-hate relationship goes back to Russia’s dark ages.

The Crimean Tatars emphatically do not want to be part of Russia, and can you blame them? They would like to be part of the EU, and have issued this flag to drive home the message:


Watching the Russian news, it is clear to me that the Russians seem prepared to fight for the Crimea. This has not always gone well for them. The last time they did, all the good stuff went to the British: cardigan sweaters, balaclava helmets (which have come back to bite Russia recently in the form of Pussy Riot) and Florence Nightingale.

But pay money?

Readers, are you watching events in Ukraine unfold with interest? Where do you think the Crimea will end up? Do you know any Tatars? Weigh in by hitting the comment button below!


  • Gary Turn says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    it’s Gary, your USA landscaper from Montague. I really enjoyed your comments. I’ve been following the developments in the Ukraine. it feels like a repeat on its way to me as well.

    I especially wanted to cast a vote in your favor on you side against Hillary reaching the top post of our (what feels like) executive regime. Personally, I’m in favor of any successful candidate run by a true fiscally conservative candidate. I like the the idea of one penny removed from every federally spent dollar for the next 6 years, which erases our shameful arrears. I pray for a return to principles upon which we were originally founded, so that we may once again have standing as a country that can be taken seriously again here and throughout the world. I wish everyone was reading your stuff, so that our status quo would not be riddle with complacency over what we have, (or at least had) compared to the reality of our current position here at home.

    I wish you all the luck with your release.


  • Brenda Prai says:

    Question: are you worried by developments of the Crimean crisis? (For example, VISA and Mastercard have, in compliance with US law, stop doing business with certain Russian banks. This must affect the average Russian.)

    I ask this question because a local expert in Slavic studies here in Montréal believes that Russia is now entering its ‘Slavic’ phase, i.e. it shuns anything Western and erects a wall to the outside world. (He explained that Russia is pulled between Westernization (think of Peter the Great) and its Slavic heritage (think of the Slavophiles.)

    For my part, I’m thinking about the expat community in Russia and how they’ll fare in the coming months if things don’t calm down. (Hence my question at the beginning of this message.)

    I realize I’m just a reader of your blog, but believe me when I say that you’re in my thoughts and I hope that the dust will settle soon and this will all blow over. (That said, what a radical change in the space of two months: from the Winter Olympics to this! Who would have thought!)

    In the meanwhile, I’m looking forward to reading Chapter One of your book and eventually purchasing Lenin Lives Next Door!

    Take care,


    • jennifer says:

      Dear Brenda,

      First of all, many thanks for your kind thoughts! I appreciate you taking the time to write to me and your concern which is very much appreciated. We are all a little wary of the situation and fearful for both the political and the economic fallout.

      In terms of the Slavic phase, I think your expert is referring to the “Slavophile” movement, which was popular in the 19th century and basically, as you rightly point out, favored the thinking that Russia was a special and different culture than Western Europe and had a very important, almost messianic lesson to teach the rest of the world. There is certainly a lot of that thinking amongst the current crowd in the Kremlin. I would say that Russia is moving in a very “imperial” direction — when Putin speaks of “gathering the Russian lands” it takes us right back to Catherine the Great and Peter the Great in terms of pushing Russia’s borders to expansion in all directions.

      If you are intrigued by this kind of history, I think you will enjoy Lenin Lives Next Door — particularly Chapter 5, which goes into this in a lot of detail.

      Please stop by again and continue the discussion and thank you again for your very kind thoughts!

  • Lola LB says:

    No, she will not. People are getting tired of Democrats being in charge for 8 years. Do they really want Democrats in charge for 4 more years? Much less, 8 more years? Seriously‽

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