Top 10 Facts about the Crimean Crisis

The Crimean crisis is an ongoing international crisis involving Russia and Ukraine. Most developments apply to the Crimean Peninsula, a multi-ethnic region which until February 2014 was administered by Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the administratively separate municipality of Sevastopol, both of which have a large Russian ethnicity population. Currently, the Crimean Peninsula is administered by the Russian Federation as the Crimean Federal District, after a referendum was held on March 18, 2014.  On March 27, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding Resolution 68/262 that declared the Crimean referendum invalid and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia illegal.On April 15, Ukrainian parliament declared Crimea as a temporarily occupied territory by Russia. No resolution in sight.

Here are top 10 things you should consider when trying to wrap your head around this crisis.

10. Russia has meddled before:
Russia has no problem roughing up its neighboring country. In August 2008, Russia invaded the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to a report done by the Georgian government, the Georgian army launched a military attack against South Ossetia after Russian troops and around 150 armored vehicles  entered South Ossetian territory through the Roki tunnel. During the war, Russia targeted Georgia’s military infrastructure to reduce Georgia’s ability to conduct another incursion. It pulled back once a EU sponsored ceasefire was enacted.

9. Not the first time Russia attacked Crimea:
The Crimean Khanate, a vassal from 1441, of the Ottoman Empire, was conquered by the Russian Empire in 173. Following its incorporation into the Russian Empire, Crimea became the “heart of Russian Romanticism” and the region continued to attract vacationers well after the Russian Empire was replaced by the Soviet Union. In 1954, the Soviet Union, under Nikita Khrushchev, transferred the Crimean Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, in a “symbolic gesture” that seemed insignificant at the time. Oops!

8. Military Sizes:
The size of the Georgian military was in no comparison to the Russians. Ukraine has a far larger and better resourced military than Georgia, and a number of inherited aged Soviet kits. However they still relatively small compared to Russia. Ukraine has 90,000 active personnel and a military budget of $1.9bn, but Russia has 766,000 and a budget of $90bn.

7. Crimea is home to Russian Black Sea Fleet:
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the newly independent countries agreed that all the military hardware would stay the property of the state they happened to be in at the time of dissolution. The only problem with this is that Ukraine is home to the Sevastopol Naval Base, which hosts the Black Sea Fleet. The two countries agreed to split the fleet and give Russia a 20 year lease, which got extended to 2042.

6. Referendum:
Vladimir Putin has been rallying the support of Ethnic Russians in Ukraine. More than half of the Crimean population considers itself Russia. In a referendum on March 18, 2014, the population of Crimea voted to become part of Russia. Countries all over the world have contested the elections.

5. Russia feels it has the right to intervene:
Russia has said it reserves the right to intervene to protect the rights of ethnic Russians located in eastern Ukraine. NATO says Russian armed forces are massing on Ukraine’s eastern border, while Moscow says they are merely carrying out military exercises.

4. U.S and EU cannot do anything:

Neither U.S. or EU have any say or way to halt Russia. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. conducts a defensive foreign policy. Its costly error was the reset with Russia and scrapping plans for the implementation of components of the missile defense shield in Poland and a radar station in Czech Republic. By doing so, the U.S. has lost its major hard-power option of having an influence on Kremlin.

3. States are already recognizing the border changes:

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has already accepted the incorporation of Crimea to Russia. Europe is undergoing a crisis of the social state, is weak economically, and depends heavily on Russian gas. They’re afraid to speak up, because if they do they will lose a major resource from Russia.

2. Rise of Ukranian Nationalism:

Ukrainian nationalism is now being respread and threatens Poland’s eastern borders (Przemysl County). Ukrainian nationalists were responsible for Polish and Jewish pogroms during WWII.

1. History of political unrest in Europe:

Europe’s borders were never cast in stone. The revision of borders has happened in front of our very eyes several times over the many centuries. In just our lifetime we saw breakup of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, birth of new states in the Balkans, and the unification of Germany.