Written by Aagastya Jaipuria, a grade 9 student.
As a person with a keen interest in current affairs and deep curiosity, I understood that the geo-political situation of the Crimean region was baffling. What was most surprising was the fact that, almost no one I knew seemed to be talking about it!
I started thinking to myself and realized that when we talk about unstable regions that have suffered or are suffering, we think of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan. This list does consist of many other regions, but not Crimea.
To me Crimea is more fascinating than any of the above mentioned countries/regions as it is not simply civil war or a region that is disturbed due to terrorism. It is different here – as it is related to the annexation (taking another territory by force) of the territory of a country by another.
What is Crimea? What is its history?
Crimea, formerly known as autonomous Republic of Crimea, is a peninsular region located on the borders of Ukraine and Russia. History describes Crimea as a region that went through a lot of instability. Be it during the Russian revolution of 1917, or the Second World War Crimea was the center of bloodshed suffering from political and military instability.
Today, The Republic of Crimea is officially a part of Ukraine. In 1783, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire and it remained a part of Russia till 1954. Then it was transferred to Ukraine.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Crimea continued to be a part of Ukraine. It remained a part of Ukraine for nearly 20 years.
Then it all happened on the night of 27th February 2014, when masked Russian troops invaded Crimea and took over its supreme council.
Russian-backed forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, and the territory, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West deem illegal.
In early 2014 Crimea became the focus of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, after Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power by violent protests in Kiev (he currently lives in Russia).
The Ukraine government turned to NATO for help. The United Nations stepped forward to resolve this conflict. The United Nations Security Council had granted the power to veto any resolution to the P-5 members and Russia being one of them vetoed all resolutions to sought to provide a solution for the situation in Crimea.
Russia held a referendum to determine the future of Crimea and the results came in favor of Russia, but it was clear that all was not well. There was a lot of international criticism and there were claims that the referendum was held at gunpoint. In addition, the referendum did not abide by the constitution so its results could not be considered as binding.
The results were in Russia’s favor because Crimea had a large number of Russian settlers staying in it before 1954. They were the ones who were in favor of the referendum. On the other hand, we notice that the Native Crimeans also known as Tatars wanted to remain in Ukraine but, because they were in the minority their voices were not considered. The United Nations General Assembly also passed a resolution declaring the referendum to be illegal. But the Crimean parliament and Russia did not adhere to it.
Not just the referendum-it appears that the entire annexation document was riddled with flaws, violating key international documents and agreements.
What is the situation of Crimea now?
The situation triggered even more when on the 17th March 2014 Crimea officially declared independence from Ukraine and put in a request to join Russia. The next day the treaty of accession to Russia was signed by Crimea. Yet the treaty was not accepted by most countries internationally who still claimed the annexation to be illegal.
Although Ukraine released statements protesting and condemning the illegal annexation, its military withdrew from Crimea on the 19th march. The next year it was announced that Crimea had been officially made a part of Russia and 2 years later it participated in Russian legislative elections.
Till date there are many countries who recognize Crimea as a part of Ukraine, and they are not wrong as the annexation also had its own legal flaws. This matter can only conclude peacefully if the parties concerned negotiate sensibly with one another without flinging accusations and sanctions at one another. Having said that, that would be the solution to most world problems!
Written by Aagastya Jaipuria