The protests in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea,

The
Crimean Peninsula was part of the Russian Federation until a soviet leader
named Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine as a present in 1954. Sixty years
later, in 2014, Russia launched a military invasion and an annexation of Crimea.

Leading up to the events was a meeting held by Russian President Vladimir Putin
in February 2014, stating the desire to return Crimea to Russia. Shortly after
this discussion, began many protests in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, and
the plan to remove President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych disappeared and was
suspected to be heading south, and after weeks of not returning, was replaced
by President Petro Porshenko. After the peaceful protests turned violent, masked
troops in unmarked clothing, Spetsnatz, were ‘fueling the fire’ and began taking
over government buildings in Crimea. These events led to a Pro-Russian
government throughout Crimea in March 2014, and a few days later Russia claimed
control of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech on March 18,
2014 stating that his annexation of Crimea was legitimate since 96% of the
Crimean residents voted in a referendum in favor of joining Russia (de Wijk,
2016).

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            Due to the referendums occurring in
Crimea, Ukrainians that did not want to be a part of Russia had the option to
leave, but they had to move to mainland Ukraine. This ultimately brought upon
the issue of armed conflict by masked men, in a previously peaceful state. In a
state with armed conflict, the conflict itself disintegrates a whole society
including law enforcement, educational institutions, and access to health
services (CFR, Armed Conflict). The aspect of human rights came about when the
government was overthrown in Crimea stated that if the Crimean people did not
want to be a part of Russia, they had the option to evacuate. However, if they
stayed longer than the allotted days of time given to evacuate, they would
become part of Russia. Not only is there instability being caused in Eastern
Ukraine, but there is also guarded checkpoints aloong the border of Russia and
Ukraine. As for Crimea, since the incursion there has been a large military
buildup on the peninsula. Russia has the ability to bring military equipment across
the border fairly easily, and across the Kerch Strait which is a small strait
located between Russia and Kerch in Crimea, and it has done just that. Also,
Russia has a sizable Black Sea Fleet which now conveniently located in the Sevastopol
Naval Base at the Southernmost point of Crimea.

            After the invasion happened in
Crimea not many international states were jumping in to assist Ukraine. There
had been talks between European states since 2008 when Ukraine applied to join
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, these plans with NATO
were put on the shelves when President Viktor Yanukovych was placed into power
in 2010. President Yanukovych’s goals were to keep Ukraine non-aligned. This
did not fare well for the Ukrainian people when it came time for assistance
after the incursions along their borders. Throughout the annexation of Crimea,
NATO did condemn this action, but showed no interest intervention or offering a
membership position to Ukraine (Menon, 2015). Ukraine is also not a member of
the European Union (EU) or the United Nations (UN). It seems that not being a
member in these three organizations, NATO, EU, and UN, played a large part in
why there was no international intervention when Russia was invading Crimea.

Despite not being a part of these organizations, the International committee of
the Red Cross (ICRS), was still able to provide humanitarian assistance to the
Ukrainian people. The ICRS aided displaced persons fleeing North of the
peninsula of Crimea and those who were left behind in Crimea, which is now part
of the Russian Federation. Also, they did help the Eastern Ukraine which was
going through its own military invasion with much political and social unrest
caused by the Russians as well.

            Many of the actions taken by Russian
President Putin have shown that he prefers to run his country through the lens
of the realist. The theoretical perspective I can see for Ukraine and Russia is
realism. The realist theory shows through because the stance of President Putin
was known before the invasion, that he did not support Ukraine joining the
NATO, UN, or EU. This is not the first country that Russia has invaded in
recent times Georgia, Belarus (Belarussia as its nicknamed), Ukraine, and more,
all within the past decade. Russia has demonstrated time after time being able
to decimate one country with strong military presence in order to secure land
and power for themselves. Crimea was a prime example of Russia using Ukraine to
pursue its own interests at the expense of another state. Russia had much to
gain from Crimea economically and militarily. Ukraine’s Navy lost much of its
infrastructure and their maritime assets after seizure by Russian forces
(Sanders, 2014). This is a prime place for the Black Sea Fleet, secured oil
lines, strategic surface to air missile systems, and other military equipment
all moving east towards the rest of NATO. This is a pawn in Russia’s game, being
able to secure power throughout Europe and it seems to work their favor when
you analyze Russia with the realist theory. Crimea was a perfect place for a
quick land grab, now secured as part of Russia.

            Even though we are nearing the
anniversary of four years post invasion for Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, unrest
still remains in these areas. Crimean people have settled down since the vote of
citizens in favor of joining Russia. Eastern Ukraine along with much of Russia
is still a fairly regular topic in the intelligence community. New equipment
that has been brought to Crimea is positioned well and some military facilities
that were once for show have come back to life. Members of the Russian military
still maintains de facto control over
many strategic facilities throughout the peninsula (Marples, 2014). The native
language spoken in Crimea is now Russian since it is a part of Russia. Overall,
this topic has always peaked my interest since this happened when I was living
in Europe. In conclusion, we went over the events in Ukraine that ultimately
led to the invasion of Crimea, the armed conflict and force that was used by
the Russians, other international state’s lack of involvement in the conflict,
the realist perspective that fits Russian interests, and the aftermath of the
peninsula after the invasion.