Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, has a complicated history. Initially, Crimea was part of Russia, but in 1954, it became a part of Ukraine as Russia grew increasingly aggressive towards Crimea. Russia and Crimea have deep historical ties and Russian president, Vladimir Putin said in a recent speech, “Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride.” Consequently, the crisis today revolves around the question; which country should control Crimea?
About 2 million people reside in Crimea, and more than 60% identify as Russians. The recent protests in Ukraine have raised questions in the minds of many Ukrainians concerning their nationalities and ignited the Crimean conflict. Contrary to popular belief, people in Crimea believe Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president, was the victim of the coup. Recently, Crimean citizens voted to join Russia and the Russian parliament voted to admit Crimea. However, many Ukrainians remain highly skeptical of the recent development and many Western nations, primarily the U.S, have now become embroiled in the crisis.
The Conflict’s Significance
Although the Crimean conflict seems be confined in the region and western nations have limited their involvement to diplomatic means, this crisis has proved to be the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. Moscow, which regards the new authorities in Ukraine as fascists, is sending troops to protect “ethnic” Russians in Eastern Ukraine. However, this has enraged nationalists in Ukraine, and has prompted President Obama to push for a united stand with other wealthy nations to impose stronger economic sanctions. Putin’s response to heightened sanctions showed no concern.
With Putin brushing aside Obama’s warnings and seeking allies that commonly oppose the U.S, the situation seems to be spiraling out of control. Consequently, Obama and the leaders of six allied nations- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Britain- have agreed to suspend Russia from the Group of Eight, after accusing Russia of violating International Law. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in response, ““We don’t believe it will be a big problem if it doesn’t convene, the G-8 is an informal club.” The Crimean conflict is no longer confined to the region, and has absorbed several countries.
Where to Now?
With the situation becoming increasingly volatile, and the western nations’ responses growing increasingly aggressive, the situation appears to be on the brink of spilling over. According to many distinguished analysts, the recent Crimean crisis could mark the beginning of a looming political, social and economic stand-off. Despite the frequent sanctions and threats from President Obama, nothings seems to be dissuading President Putin from taking over Crimea.
Since Crimea is of great importance to the future of Ukraine, the West seems to have vested interest in it, indicating that the threat of military action might as well be imminent. Although the chances of war may seem low in this day and age, the Crimean conflict is unique. The conflict involves a standoff between the two most powerful nations who are both supported by allies, and both provide persuasive explanations for why the other is wrong. In fact, president Putin stated, “The Kremlin believes the west has been instrumental in the unrest in Ukraine.” Although a seemingly absurd idea, Crimea, a defenseless territory, could be the starting point of a full-blown war.
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