The following is a 2014 take on the Crimean conflict. What has changed since then? What has stayed the same? Does the essay hold up? Comment your answer below!
Ukraine is a non-NATO, sovereign nation attached to its southern neighbor, Crimea, by a small amount of land. The peninsula of Crimea is a sought after piece of land due to its advantageous role as a seaport in the Black Sea. Russia was essentially threatened by the ousting of Ukraine’s previous pro-Russia government, which led them to seize Crimea, securing the position as naval vantage point.
Crimea was basically gifted to Ukraine in the 50s as a sort of reward for being an ally of Russia for so long. Russian politician Nikita Khrushchev saw an advantage in not only gaining favor from Ukraine, but in giving Crimea to them, he would put the burden of the peninsula’s rebuilding on the Ukrainian government. Due to this somewhat recent transfer of Crimea to Ukraine from Russia, the area has a larger Russian population than a Ukrainian one. Roughly 25% of the Crimean populace consists of Ukrainian citizens, however. Putin’s recent influx of troops into Crimea, was said to be to “protect Russian speaking citizens” from the Ukrainians in the region. Putin essentially used the ethnic diversity in the region as a guise to essentially take over the country militarily.
In March 2014, Crimea held a vote for a Crimean Status Referendum, which would fundamentally transfer the area back under the control of Moscow. The vote was overwhelmingly pro-Russian, with around 96% in favor of the referendum. As noted before, however, around 60% of the Crimean population is Russian. If this vote were legitimate, it would mean the 25% of Ukrainian populace and the other 15% of Crimean citizens would have overwhelming vote for the Russian government to take back control. These demographics seem fairly indicative of Russia tampering with the outcome of the vote on the Crimean Status Referendum in March.
Due to the fact that Ukraine isn’t a part of NATO, the rest of the world has little room to apply military pressure without starting a war. It’s speculated that Russia had all but a puppet regime in the Ukrainian government, so regardless of the people’s wishes the country has abstained from joining NATO. Part of the reason the populace ousted the previous government was due to their failure to make progress with the EU. While the Ukrainian people want to end their time as Russia’s lapdog now, the fact that they already aren’t an official member of NATO prevents the rest of the world for taking any aggressive action.
It appears that international community is overwhelmingly upset with Russia, though. Many countries have threatened sanctions, and according to an April 15, 2014 USA Today article the US has increased its troop presence in the surrounding region. It also states that the US most likely won’t intervene without NATO taking action first. President Obama said that Russia is on “the wrong side of history” according to a March 3, 2014 USA Today article. According to an April 2014 Washington Post article, even McDonalds has joined the international uproar by closing all of its Crimean locations.
I think it’s important for the EU to talk with Turkey about their role in Russia’s naval presence. In my opinion, it would be advantageous for Turkey to gain favor with the EU by closing, or at least threatening to close, the Bosphorus Strait to Russian ships. This would make Russia’s use of Crimea all but useless. I’m not sure that such aggressive action will ever happen if Russia stops at Crimea. If Russia did something as drastic as waltzing into Poland as some have suggested, I think Germany would take military action. This of course would spark other NATO nations to join, and I believe the US would also get involved. I think that Russia will probably just take Crimea and be done with it for the next 10 or so years, however. This all depends on how egotistical Putin actually is. If the referendum vote had come at a different time and was monitored fairly then it might be alright for Russia to take back Crimea after a pro-Russian vote. They went about the situation all wrong, and technically already gave Ukraine Crimea (though it is considered an autonomous republic), so I think as of now it should remain as an attachment of Ukraine.
The above was written by part time writer and full time carpet cleaning expert, Bill of http://www.calicarpets.com/. He’s got some great stuff, so expect to see more of him in the future. Let us know what you think in the comments below!