"Our Western partners headed by the United States prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun," [Putin] told a joint session of parliament.He has neatly turned the West's past position on "self-determination" into a metaphorical club with which to beat Obama about the head. And he has been able to do so because he understands that Obama is completely lacking in principles, but is ruled only by political and personal expediency.
"They have come to believe in their exceptionalism and their sense of being the chosen ones. That they can decide the destinies of the world, that it is only them who can be right."
Now, if Obama had acknowledged the right of self-determination, the U.S. would have been in the position to argue about whether the Crimean plebiscite had been rigged in favor of a Russian win. But by categorically rejecting a vote of "self-determination" as illegal, Obama now has no moral grounds on which to attack the results of the election. All he can do is helplessly flutter in the wind, while trying to explain why Crimea is different from the former Yugoslavia (or Texas, for that matter).
Moreover, what is Obama going to do when Argentina decides to push to take the Falkland Islands? The right of self-determination is one of the strongest arguments for rejecting an Argentine claim to the islands.