TheCrimean Peninsula was part of the Russian Federation until a soviet leadernamed Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine as a present in 1954. Sixty yearslater, 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 Putinin February 2014, stating the desire to return Crimea to Russia.
Shortly afterthis discussion, began many protests in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, andthe plan to remove President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych disappeared and wassuspected to be heading south, and after weeks of not returning, was replacedby President Petro Porshenko. After the peaceful protests turned violent, maskedtroops in unmarked clothing, Spetsnatz, were ‘fueling the fire’ and began takingover government buildings in Crimea. These events led to a Pro-Russiangovernment throughout Crimea in March 2014, and a few days later Russia claimedcontrol of Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech on March 18,2014 stating that his annexation of Crimea was legitimate since 96% of theCrimean residents voted in a referendum in favor of joining Russia (de Wijk,2016). Due to the referendums occurring inCrimea, Ukrainians that did not want to be a part of Russia had the option toleave, but they had to move to mainland Ukraine. This ultimately brought uponthe issue of armed conflict by masked men, in a previously peaceful state. In astate with armed conflict, the conflict itself disintegrates a whole societyincluding law enforcement, educational institutions, and access to healthservices (CFR, Armed Conflict).
The aspect of human rights came about when thegovernment was overthrown in Crimea stated that if the Crimean people did notwant to be a part of Russia, they had the option to evacuate. However, if theystayed longer than the allotted days of time given to evacuate, they wouldbecome part of Russia. Not only is there instability being caused in EasternUkraine, but there is also guarded checkpoints aloong the border of Russia andUkraine.
As for Crimea, since the incursion there has been a large militarybuildup on the peninsula. Russia has the ability to bring military equipment acrossthe border fairly easily, and across the Kerch Strait which is a small straitlocated 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 SevastopolNaval Base at the Southernmost point of Crimea. After the invasion happened inCrimea not many international states were jumping in to assist Ukraine. Therehad been talks between European states since 2008 when Ukraine applied to jointhe North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, these plans with NATOwere put on the shelves when President Viktor Yanukovych was placed into powerin 2010.
President Yanukovych’s goals were to keep Ukraine non-aligned. Thisdid not fare well for the Ukrainian people when it came time for assistanceafter the incursions along their borders. Throughout the annexation of Crimea,NATO did condemn this action, but showed no interest intervention or offering amembership position to Ukraine (Menon, 2015). Ukraine is also not a member ofthe European Union (EU) or the United Nations (UN).
It seems that not being amember in these three organizations, NATO, EU, and UN, played a large part inwhy there was no international intervention when Russia was invading Crimea.Despite not being a part of these organizations, the International committee ofthe Red Cross (ICRS), was still able to provide humanitarian assistance to theUkrainian people. The ICRS aided displaced persons fleeing North of thepeninsula of Crimea and those who were left behind in Crimea, which is now partof the Russian Federation. Also, they did help the Eastern Ukraine which wasgoing through its own military invasion with much political and social unrestcaused by the Russians as well.
Many of the actions taken by RussianPresident Putin have shown that he prefers to run his country through the lensof the realist. The theoretical perspective I can see for Ukraine and Russia isrealism. The realist theory shows through because the stance of President Putinwas known before the invasion, that he did not support Ukraine joining theNATO, UN, or EU.
This is not the first country that Russia has invaded inrecent times Georgia, Belarus (Belarussia as its nicknamed), Ukraine, and more,all within the past decade. Russia has demonstrated time after time being ableto decimate one country with strong military presence in order to secure landand power for themselves. Crimea was a prime example of Russia using Ukraine topursue its own interests at the expense of another state.
Russia had much togain from Crimea economically and militarily. Ukraine’s Navy lost much of itsinfrastructure and their maritime assets after seizure by Russian forces(Sanders, 2014). This is a prime place for the Black Sea Fleet, secured oillines, strategic surface to air missile systems, and other military equipmentall moving east towards the rest of NATO. This is a pawn in Russia’s game, beingable to secure power throughout Europe and it seems to work their favor whenyou analyze Russia with the realist theory. Crimea was a perfect place for aquick land grab, now secured as part of Russia. Even though we are nearing theanniversary of four years post invasion for Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, unreststill remains in these areas.
Crimean people have settled down since the vote ofcitizens in favor of joining Russia. Eastern Ukraine along with much of Russiais still a fairly regular topic in the intelligence community. New equipmentthat has been brought to Crimea is positioned well and some military facilitiesthat were once for show have come back to life.
Members of the Russian militarystill maintains de facto control overmany strategic facilities throughout the peninsula (Marples, 2014). The nativelanguage 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 livingin Europe.
In conclusion, we went over the events in Ukraine that ultimatelyled to the invasion of Crimea, the armed conflict and force that was used bythe Russians, other international state’s lack of involvement in the conflict,the realist perspective that fits Russian interests, and the aftermath of thepeninsula after the invasion.