Blood and Borders

The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of the Kin-State

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Inter-ethnic conflict and genocide have demonstrated the dangers of failing to protect people targeted by fellow citizens. When minority groups in one country are targeted for killings or ethnic cleansing based on their group identity, whose responsibility is it to protect them? In particular, are they owed any protective responsibility by their kin-state? How can cross-border kinship ties strengthen greater pannational identity across borders without challenging territorially defined national security? As shown by the Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia, unilateral intervention by a kin-state can lead to conflict within and between states. The protection of national minorities should not be used as an excuse to violate state sovereignty and generate interstate conflict.



The role of Russia as a kin-state in protecting the Russian minority in Ukraine

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a situation in which Russians living in former republics of the USSR, including Ukraine, became national minorities – so-called “compatriots”. Russia had no experience of networking with compatriots abroad, even though that was the Soviet thinking. Nowadays, Russia is a dominant, strong and powerful state with a kin-state interest in Ukraine, maintaining a unique post-Soviet position.


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