I am inclined to think the concept of territorial integrity is overrated. 100 years ago, a guarantee of Belgium’s territorial integrity led Britain into the most disastrous of wars. Thankfully for all the huffing and puffing about Ukraine’s territorial integrity, no outside power is going to be stupid enough to declare war on Russia.
The boundaries of states are accidents of history. Ukraine’s certainly are. There never had been a Ukrainian national state until 25 years ago, and the boundaries of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic were never intended to define a nation state. Indeed Crimea, which has never in history been ethnically or linguistically Ukrainian (it was Tartar before Stalin deported them), was only added on to the Ukrainian SSR within my lifetime for some obscure reason of Soviet politburo politics.
Rather than burble on about territorial integrity, the western world would do better to cut a deal with Putin wherein referenda on their future in Ukrainian provinces are held under international supervision with some degree of fairness. Personally I very much want to see Ukraine in the EU, but not with a tail of Russian provinces who really do not want to be there.
Putin, of course, is a total hypocrite. There is no doubt that the populations of Dagestan and Chehcnya had a genuine and settled desire to secede from Russia, and they have suffered Putin’s genocidal policies in consequence. Putin is not acting from a belief in self-determination, but from naked Russian nationalism. That is what is so amusing about the deluded left wingers supporting him against the nationalists of Kiev.
Referenda in the provinces of Ukraine, certainly. But how about internationally supervised referenda in Dagestan and Chechnya as well?