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 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. President Yanukovychdisappeared and was suspected to be heading south, and after weeks of notreturning, was replaced by President Petro Porshenko.
After the peacefulprotests turned violent, masked troops in unmarked clothing, Spetsnatz, were’fueling the fire’ and began taking over government buildings in Crimea. Theseevents led to a Pro-Russian government throughout Crimea in March 2014, and afew days later Russia claimed control of Crimea. Russian President VladimirPutin gave a speech on March 18, 2014 stating that his annexation of Crimea waslegitimate since 96% of the Crimean residents voted in a referendum in favor ofjoining 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 can disintegrate 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 along 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 during presidency were to keep Ukraine non-alignedwith other states.
This did not fare well for the Ukrainian people when it cametime for assistance after the incursions along their borders. Throughout theannexation of Crimea, NATO did condemn this action, but showed no interestintervention or offering a membership position to Ukraine (Menon, 2015). Ukraineis also not a member of the European Union (EU) or the United Nations (UN).
Itseems 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 Russiawas invading Crimea. Despite not being a part of these organizations, theInternational committee of the Red Cross (ICRS), was still able to providehumanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people. The ICRS aided displacedpersons fleeing North of the peninsula of Crimea and those who were left behindin Crimea, which is now part of the Russian Federation. Also, they did help theEastern Ukraine which was going through its own military invasion with muchpolitical and social unrest caused 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, and now it is secured as part of Russia.
Eventhough we are nearing the anniversary of four years post invasion for Crimeaand Eastern Ukraine, unrest still remains in these areas. Crimean people havesettled down since the vote of citizens in favor of joining Russia. EasternUkraine along with much of Russia is still a fairly regular topic in theintelligence community. New equipment that has been brought to Crimea ispositioned well and some military facilities that were once for show have comeback to life.
Members of the Russian military still to this day, maintain actualcontrol over many strategic facilities located throughout the peninsula(Marples, 2014). The native language spoken in Crimea is now Russian, no longerthe Ukrainian or Tatar language. Overall, the Ukraine and Russia topic hasalways peaked my interest since this happened when I was living in Europe. Inconclusion, we covered the events in Ukraine that led to the invasion ofCrimea, the armed conflict and force that was used by the Russians, otherinternational state’s lack of involvement in the conflict, the realistperspective that fits Russian interests, and the aftermath of the peninsulaafter the invasion.