Crimea Crisis Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 5 Subject: History - Asian Type: Essay Paper: #95729884 Related Topics: Crisis Intervention, Russia, Westward Expansion, Ottoman Empire
Excerpt from Essay :


The Crimean crisis of 2014 is an ongoing international crisis, related to the larger issues surrounding Ukraine and Russia. Crimea is a strategically-important peninsula at the southern end of Ukraine. Politically, prior to its annexation by Russia, Crimea was an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine. Its population is a mix of Ukrainian, Russian and Crimean Tatar, and Russian is the predominant language. The city of Sevastopol is an administratively separate municipality, its naval yards on long-term lease to Russia, which has used the city as home to its Black Sea fleet for a couple of centuries. Crimea became part of Ukraine as part of a transfer during the Soviet era. In 2014, armed and masked men, believed to be Russian and operating with military-level effectiveness, seized control of public installations in Crimea (Sengupta, 2014). Russia then oversaw an internationally-invalidated referendum and voted in the Duma to annex Crimea. Russia then moved its troops officially into the region. The paper will discuss the history of the conflict, along with an analysis of the situation as it currently stands. The West should not recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, but is unlikely to muster any intervention in response to the annexation, given the greater issues at stake with such a move, like the risks posed by open conflict with Russia.


Crimea became important during Russia's age of expansion in the 18th century. Until that point, it had been ruled by the Crimean Khanate, one of several khanates that were vestiges of Chinggis Khan's westward incursions. Russia overran the peninsula, seizing it as part of her empire, valuing in particular the harbor at Sevastopol, a city the Russians founded in 1783 for its Mediterranean naval base and as a bulwark against the Ottoman Empire. Russia transferred Crimea to Ukraine while both were part of the U.S.S.R., but Sevastopol remained under special political status with strong Russian influence and the presence of the Russia navy. Other parts of Crimea remained Russian-speaking.

The modern Ukraine was formed from the Ukrainian SSR at the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since its inception, Ukraine has been split between Russian-speakers and Ukrainian-speakers. The latter have weaker ethnic and national identity, leading to attempts to strengthen this identity, particularly vs. Russian identity. Nevertheless Ukraine is home to many ethnic Russians -- in the East, in Crimea and in Odessa. The result has been a political split of the country between those who view Russia sympathetically and those who do not (Conant, 2014). When the pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by pro-Ukrainian forces following months of protests about Yanukovich's turn towards Russia, this created the pretext for Russia's invasion of Crimea. Russia claims that it is responding the needs of Russian-speakers in the region, but more likely the move is to secure the militarily-strategic region to defend its own interests. There are legal issues -- Russia's invasion contravenes international law, and human rights issues as well, in particular with the Ukrainians and Tatars living on the peninsula (Eckel, 2014). Western intervention, to this point, has been minimal. Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas, and the U.S. has no appetite for armed conflict.

Pros & Cons of Intervention

International law clearly lays out the case against Russia in Crimea. Whatever its interests, Russia violated international law in its annexation of Crimea. Concerned citizens are not able to execute the rapid, sweeping seizure of public buildings including Ukrainian military bases -- these were Russian special forces. The referendum that came out in favor of independence from Ukraine, a tacit approval of annexation by Russia, was denounced by all independent bodies (Felton & Gumuchian, 2014). Intervention is justified on those ground alone, let alone on the human rights risk to the Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainians living on the Crimean Peninsula.

Intervention has other benefits, aside from being the right and justified thing to do. The most obvious benefit is that Crimea was/is the best opportunity to establish a framework for non-military resolution of the Ukrainian situation. Putin's annexation has parallels with Hitler's annexation of Sudetenland, which raises the specter of future conflict. Russia is...


Its thin pretexts could lead it across the southern half of Ukraine all the way to Odessa and Transnistria, knocking on the EU's doorstep (Freeman, 2014). Furthermore, there is concern among the Baltic nations that Russia is looking at overrunning them as well, as part of this expansion, as Moscow has already begun creating its pretexts for invading those countries (Evans, 2014). Intervention now has the potential to curtail Putin's ambitions -- lack of intervention emboldens those ambitions.

Lastly, there is a significant pro-to intervention now on behalf of Crimea -- it sends a clear signal of intent to Russia that the West is going to rule the day in Europe. All of the actions from World War Two onward have sent this signal, and the victory in the Cold War solidified the values of democracy, openness and freedom in Europe. The Ukrainian half of Ukraine has long been oriented towards the EU, and it is time for the EU and NATO to support these people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Aiding this cause is a moral obligation, one that the West has born for decades. To allow Russia to run roughshod over these values in Ukraine sends the wrong signal not just to Ukraine but to the entire world, that the West is more interested in vapid consumer culture than in defending the very principles that makes such indulgence possible.

That said, there a lot of problems inherent with a Ukraine intervention. Europe does not have much appetite for such intervention. Russia is a very formidable foe, with a nuclear arsenal capable of devastating Europe. One a more benign note, Russia is also the major energy supplier to Europe, particularly natural gas. Europe would suffer tremendous economic problems if it lost access to this gas, compounding the economic problems another war would cause. For Europe, sacrificing parts of Ukraine is a calculated risk that Putin is not just the next Hitler. The U.S. also has no appetite for war, albeit for different reasons. The country has squandered its desire for a fight on two pointless, indulgent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The result is that very few have the heart for a serious conflict with Russia. The result is meek, timid response to Russia's aggression.

Another con is that at this point, there is actually a very limited human cost to Russia's aggression. Taken at face value -- always a risk -- the reality is that Crimea is a very Russian place, as is eastern Ukraine. It can be argued that Russia bringing these places under its umbrella is, despite it being a violation of international law, not entirely unreasonable, and certainly not to the point where one would engage in open conflict over the issue. If Russia invades Estonia, that is another matter altogether, but Crimea was basically Russian anyway.

Perhaps the biggest con to intervention on behalf of Crimea is the obvious escalation in violence that it would constitute. Fear of fighting is normally not a good way to approach foreign policy, Russia is not some tiddlywink country. Escalating armed conflict with a nuclear power is not something to be taken lightly. If Europe and NATO think that this issue with Ukraine is destabilizing, well, a third world war would probably be quite a bit more destabilizing. Forget having an appetite for sending ground troops to the region, NATO and the EU would need to have an appetite for quite a bit more. They have surely asked themselves what price they are willing to pay for Crimea (or any other part of Ukraine for that matter) and there is little doubt that they are unwilling to get into a nuclear-level conflict over a patch of land that means little to the West anyway. The people of Crimea are simply not worth it. There is the question of whether or not the principle of international law is worth it, but it probably is not. The United States in particular is not a big subscriber of the neoliberal world order, and prefers a more realist perspective, same as Russia. In that regard, the U.S. knows that it is going to have to sacrifice Crimea to avoid a larger conflict. Again, this might be a gamble, but the principle of international law isn't worth getting into a nuclear war over. Pragmatism, under this perspective, should win the day in Ukraine.


It remains unknown at this point whether the West actually expected Russia to annex Crimea. It may have known all along that there was a high likelihood of annexation, and simply accepted it. The West probably has a line drawn over which it will not tolerate further Russian aggression. This line is not in Crimea, nor is it in the Eastern Ukraine. NATO can wring its hands all it wants, but the line isn't…

Sources Used in Documents:


Conant, E. (2014). How history, geography help explain Ukraine's political crisis. National Geographic. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from

Eckel, D. (2014). In Crimea, Tatars fear a repeat of a brutal history. Al Jazeera America. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from

Evans, R. (2014). Moscow signals concern for Russians in Estonia. Reuters. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from

Felton, A. & Gumuchian, M. (2014). UN General Assembly resolution calls Crimean referendum invalid. CNN. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from
Freeman, C. (2014). Russian troops poised to run into Moldova, NATO commander warns. The Telegraph. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from
Sengupta, K. (2014). Ukraine crisis: Masked men of Crimea overshadow the country's new dawn. The Independent. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from

Cite this Document:

"Crimea Crisis" (2014, April 17) Retrieved August 15, 2022, from

"Crimea Crisis" 17 April 2014. Web.15 August. 2022. <>

"Crimea Crisis", 17 April 2014, Accessed.15 August. 2022,

Related Documents
Crimea Reignites the Battle Between the Age Old Concepts of Sovereignty...
Words: 5649 Length: 16 Pages Topic: History - Asian Paper #: 93578707

Sovereignty vs Self-Rule: Crimea Reignites Battle Inclusion of Russia into Georgia in 2008 provoked political fear among the west political arena and the media. They dreaded that similar intervention by the Russian military would be possible in other CIS (Commonwealth Independent States) with minority states such as Crimea of the larger Russian community. Crimea was part of the imperial Russia until 1954 when it was handed over to soviet Ukraine by

Cuban Missile Crisis
Words: 1922 Length: 6 Pages Topic: Drama - World Paper #: 50123753

Cuban Missile Crisis The reports of the arrival of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to the island of Cuba. These warheads are capable of reaching almost any part of the continental United States. The presence of these warheads represents an escalation of the conflict with the Soviet Union and its allies, and it represents an existential threat to the United States. For the first time since the arms buildup between

Ukraine Crisis
Words: 1346 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Government Paper #: 68869590

Russia & Ukraine The current crisis in Ukraine is a good case study for international relations. The primary actors are Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union. In brief, Ukraine has been splitting politically since independence from the U.S.S.R. along ethnic lines. Ukrainians, still seeking for solidify their national identity, are pro-West in their outlook; Russians are pro-Russia in outlook. This schism has defined the country's politics since independence,

Khrushchev on the Cuban Missile Crisis It
Words: 6202 Length: 15 Pages Topic: Drama - World Paper #: 36421704

Khrushchev on the Cuban Missile Crisis It was Saturday evening, October 27, 1962, the day the world came very close to destruction. The crisis was not over. Soviet ships had not yet tried to run the United States (U.S.) naval blockade, but the missiles were still on Cuban soil. In Cuba, work continued on the missile sites to make them operational. The situation could either be resolved soon, or events

Decline of the Ottoman Empire
Words: 2473 Length: 7 Pages Topic: Drama - World Paper #: 17543197

The Ottoman court, administrative, and military language were all Turkish; however, high culture in the Empire was cosmopolitan and popular culture in Anatolia and Thrace could only be called "Turkish." According to McCarthy, three primary factors ultimately decided the fate of the Muslims of Ottoman Europe, the Crimea, the Caucasus, and Anatolia: 1) the military and economic weakness of the Ottoman Empire, 2) nationalism among Ottoman Christian peoples, and

Russia Ukraine
Words: 2226 Length: 7 Pages Topic: History - Asian Paper #: 64840869

International Relations The ongoing crisis in Ukraine provides an opportunity to gain some insight into international relations theories. The conflict is rooted in history, in particular with respect to cultural identity. Ukraine has for much of its history been under imperial rule, either the Hapsburgs or the Russians, and as such has an emerging national identity. The nation of Ukraine, however, was created from the Ukrainian SSR when the Soviet Union