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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

How Spain Can Avoid Its Own Crimea

In trying to prevent a secession referendum in Catalonia, Spain is repeating Ukraine's Crimea mistake.
What do Crimea and Catalonia have in common? Photographer: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images
What do Crimea and Catalonia have in common? Photographer: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

There's an important and counter-intuitive lesson for all nations in the fate of the Crimean peninsula: If you want to keep a territory from seceding, set its people free.

As Spain's effortsto quash a Catalan sovereignty movement demonstrate, nations typically do not tolerate breakaway regions under any circumstances. This was certainly the case with Ukraine, which held tightly onto Crimea after breaking away from the Soviet Union. Is that wise?