2014 Crimean crisis

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This article is about the sovereignty crisis in Crimea. For the Russian military intervention there, see 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine. For pro-Russian protests in Ukraine outside of Crimea, see 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine.
2014 Crimean crisis
Part of the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine
Crimea crisis map.PNG
Date February 23, 2014 – March 19, 2014 [1](24 days)
Location Crimean Peninsula
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures


Volunteer units[22][24]

  • 5,000 (Sevastopol)
  • 1,700 (Simferopol)

Russian military forces

  • 20,000-30,000 troops[25]

Ukrainian Armed Forces defectors


Ukrainian military forces

  • 5,000-22,000 troops[29][30]
  • 40,000 reservists, partly mobilized (outside Crimea)[31]
1 Crimean SDF trooper killed[32]

2 soldiers killed,[33]

60–80 detained[34]
3 protesters killed (2 pro-Russian and 1 pro-Ukrainian)[35][36][37][38]

The Crimean crisis was an international crisis in 2014 principally involving Russia and Ukraine over the control of the Crimean Peninsula, until its annexation by Russia. However, the current status of Crimea and Sevastopol as federal subjects of the Russian Federation is only explicitly recognized by five UN member states, including Russia.

Crimea is populated by an ethnic Russian majority and a minority of both ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. Prior to the crisis, Crimea comprised Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the administratively separate municipality of Sevastopol. The Russian Federation has organized them as the Crimean Federal District.

The crisis unfolded in the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution. On 21 February 2014 President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the capital. The Ukrainian parliament deposed him the next day, and the next week appointed an interim President, Oleksandr Turchynov, and formed an interim government. The new government was recognized by the United States and European Union. Russia and a few other countries condemned the Turchynov government as illegitimate and the result of a coup d'etat. Russia accused the United States and EU of funding and directing the ouster of Yanukovych, maintaining he was illegally impeached and remained the president of Ukraine. Beginning on February 26, pro-Russian forces began to gradually take control of the Crimean peninsula. Media sources reported that military personnel in Russian-made uniform without insignia, and former members of the Ukraine military were involved.[39][40][41] While these troops occupied Crimea's parliament building, the Crimean parliament voted to dismiss the Crimean government, replace its Prime Minister, and call a referendum on Crimea's autonomy.[42][43][44]

A referendum on whether to join Russia had an official turnout of 83% and officially resulted in a 96.77% (Crimea) and 95.6% (Sevastopol) affirmative vote,[45] but was condemned by the EU, the US, Ukrainian and the representatives of the Crimean Tatar as violating Ukraine's constitution and international law.[45][46][47] On March 17, the Crimean Parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.[48] On March 18, Russia and the separatist government of Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.[49][50] On March 27, the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding Resolution 68/262 that declared the Crimean referendum invalid and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia illegal.[51][52] On April 15, the Ukrainian parliament declared Crimea a territory temporarily occupied by Russia.[53]

On April 17 Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed Russian involvement in Crimea, remarking that "Of course, Russian servicemen backed the Crimean self-defense forces".[54] In a conference in Yalta in August of the same year, Putin reasserted that under no circumstances the annexation of Crimea, which was described as “absolutely legal”, will be reversed.[55]


Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine
Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea, August 2007
Map of the Crimean peninsula. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is colored yellow while Sevastopol is colored red.
Distribution of ethnicities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea according to the local 2001 census. Ethnic Russians comprise a majority at 58%.[56]

The Crimean Khanate, a vassal from 1441, of the Ottoman Empire, was "liberated" (1774) and eventually annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783.[57] 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.[58] The demographics of Crimea have undergone dramatic changes in the past centuries.[a][b][c][62]

Crimea had autonomy within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic as the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic from 1921 until 1945, when Joseph Stalin deported the Crimean Tatars (which gave the region a Russian majority for the first time[citation needed]) and abolished Crimean autonomy.[63] 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, since both republics were a part of the Soviet Union and therefore answerable to the capital Moscow.[64][65][66] Crimea's pre-1945 autonomy was re-established with the Crimean sovereignty referendum in 1991, the final year of the Soviet Union's existence.[67]

In 1992, the Crimean Parliament voted to hold a referendum to declare independence, while the Russian Parliament voted to void the cession of Crimea to Ukraine.[68][69] In 1994, Russian nationalist Yuri Meshkov won the 1994 Crimean presidential election and organized a referendum on Crimea's status.[70][71] Later in that same year, Crimea's legal status as part of Ukraine was recognized by Russia, which pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the Budapest memorandum signed in 1994. This treaty (or "executive agreement" for purposes of US law), was also signed by the United States, United Kingdom, and France.[72][73] Ukraine revoked the Crimean constitution and abolished the office of Crimean President in 1995.[74] Crimea would gain a new constitution in 1998 that granted the Crimean parliament lesser powers than the previous constitution, including no legislative initiative.[67][75] Crimean officials would later seek to restore the powers of the previous constitution.[75]

The further developments in Crimea and the future of the Russian naval base in Sevastopol there have been a point of contention in Russian-Ukrainian relations.[72] Under the now defunct Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea – signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010 – Russia was allowed to have up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the Crimean peninsula.[citation needed] The Russian Black Sea fleet was given basing rights in Crimea until 2042.[76]

According to the 2001 census, ethnic Russians make up about 58% of the two million residents of Crimea. 77% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language.[77] In Sevastopol, which houses a base for the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet, ethnic Russians make up 70% of the city's population of 340,000.[78] Ukrainians make up 24% of the Crimean population, while 12% are Crimean Tatars.[63][78] Ethnic Russians did not become the largest population group in Crimea until the 20th century,[citation needed] after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 for alleged collaboration with Nazi invaders in World War Two.[79][80] Crimean Tatars were not permitted to return to Crimea after their deportation in 1944, and became an international cause célèbre,[81] until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The continuing return of Crimean Tatars to their homeland in Crimea since the Soviet collapse has caused persistent tensions with the Russian population of the peninsula.[82] A news report claimed pro-Russian forces marking "X" on the doors of houses of Crimean Tatars.[83] The leader of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov protested against the intervention of Russia.[84]

In the 2010 local parliamentary elections, the Party of Regions received 357,030 votes, while the second-placed Ukrainian Communist Party received 54,172 votes.[85] Both parties were targeted by protesters during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.[86][87][88]

In July 2011, Yuriy Olexandrovich Meshkov the former president of Crimea (1994–95) called for a referendum on restoring the 1992 version of the Constitution of Crimea. The District Administrative Court of Crimea responded by deporting Meshkov from Ukraine for a period of 5 years.[89]

According to the Tallinn-based think tank "International Centre for Defense Studies", since the Orange Revolution in 2004, Russia has pressured Ukraine against closely associating itself with the West.[90] It has been stated that the information campaign in Crimea has become especially proficient and systematic, becoming particularly intense during the 2006–08 Ukraine bid for NATO membership. Each of Ukraine's attempts to achieve European integration has led to increased Russian hostility to the idea via its use of information campaign.[90][91] Russia opposes Ukrainian integration with the West for various reasons, including a fear of NATO expanding to Russia's Western borders[92] and Russia's claimed desire to include Ukraine in a Eurasian Union.[93]

According to Taras Kuzio, during the Viktor Yushchenko presidency (2005–2010), Russia's relations with Ukraine deteriorated, prompting the Russian security service (FSB) and Russian military intelligence (GRU) to expand their covert support for pro-Russian forces in Southern Ukraine and Russian separatists in Crimea.[94] Following the Orange Revolution and the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, American diplomatic cables leaked to the public noted that Russian military action against Ukraine was "no longer unthinkable."[95] In 2008, some analysts also suggested that Russia's attack on Georgia was a warning for Ukraine and Moldova, and NATO's refusal to stop further Eastern expansions might force Moscow to promote secession in the two areas.[96]

Revolution in Kiev[edit]

At the end of 2013, Euromaidan protests (around 400,000 – 800,000 people in Kiev, according to Russia's opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and hundreds of thousands in other Ukrainian cities and abroad)[97] began after President Viktor Yanukovych postponed the signing of Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement under severe economic pressure from Russia, even though previously he had considered this agreement one of his key objectives and stated it on multiple occasions.[98][99] Instead, Yanukovych struck a deal with Putin which meant, among other things, that Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian bonds, and discount gas prices to Ukraine by one-third.[100] Opposition leaders were suspicious of the true cost to Ukraine for Russian support.[101][102] The majority of protesters held liberal pro-European values (Batkivshchyna, Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, and other forces). Much less popular, but still influential nationalist parties and movements were also represented and, to a certain extent, supported the idea of European integration, too.

After the violent dispersal of protesters on November 30 and the adoption of Anti-protest laws, the protests took an anti-government and anti-corruption turn, escalated in early 2014 and eventually led to deaths of both protesters and police on January 22[103] and between February 18 and 20, 103 people were killed and 1419 injured.[104] According to most reports in Ukraine, violence was used mostly by the police.[105] Numerous snipers killed dozens of protesters. The snipers' identities are still disputed. According to the official investigation,[106][107][108] the pro-European opposition and the majority of Ukrainian and Western media, they were hired by Yanukovych and his circle and/or the Russian secret services,[109] which had also planned a large military operation to 'cleanse' protesters.[110][111][112] On February 20, acting Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko announced in a video address to the nation that combat weapons had been provided to the police and announced the beginning of an operation to disperse the protesters.[113] Radio Liberty published video footage of police special forces shooting protesters with Kalashnikov and sniper rifles.[114] Several pro-Yanukovych politicians openly called for 'cleansing' protesters.[115] Despite these facts, Yanukovych denied his regime's involvement in the massacre.[116] Some allegations that the snipers were hired by the revolutionaries appeared.[117] On February 21, President Yanukovych and the opposition leaders signed a compromise deal that was brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Poland and Germany,[118][119] but it soon became redundant as Yanukovych left the capital, the Verkhovna Rada voted to withdraw the police and the military from Kiev,[120] and the protesters took control of the city without resistance.[121] According to the deal, the Verkhovna Rada was obliged to adopt a bill about the constitutional reform and Yanukovych was obliged to sign it within 48 hours.[119] The bill was adopted, but Yanukovych didn't sign it.[122]

On February 22, Yanukovych fled Kiev.[123] Evidence shows that Yanukovych had started to prepare his leave on February 19, removing goods and valuables. The guards of Yanukovych's residence opened it to the protesters, who found vast evidence of Yanukovych's unprecedented corruption.[124][125] The Rada impeached Yanukovych,[126] but not according to the constitutional procedure. The action did not follow the impeachment process as specified by the Constitution of Ukraine (which would have involved formally charging the president with a crime, a review of the charge by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and a three-fourths majority vote – i.e. at least 338 votes in favor – by the Rada); instead, the Verkhovna Rada declared that Yanukovych "withdrew from his duties in an unconstitutional manner" and cited "circumstances of extreme urgency" as the reason for early elections.[127][128][129] The vote was supported by all present[130] in the Ukrainian parliament, 328:0 (of the 447 deputies). The Rada set May 25 for a new presidential election.[131][132] According to the opposition leaders, they had no other choice, because, as they see it, Yanukovych was involved in mass murder and large-scale corruption,[112] had usurped power, including the judicial system, and disregarded and violated the Constitution and other laws many times.[133] Members of the opposition appointed Oleksandr Turchinov as the new speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and also as the interim President. A new Council of Ministers, known as the Yatsenyuk Government, was elected by the Verkhovna Rada on February 27.[134] Russia refused to recognize the new authorities in Kiev, saying that they had come to power through armed insurrection by extreme-right political forces and unconstitutional methods. The United States and European Union [clarification needed] immediately[when?] recognized the government in Kiev.[135][136][137][138]

Some residents of the Eastern and Southern parts of the country, which are primarily Russian-speaking and previously constituted President Yanukovych's support base, felt disenfranchised by these developments and protested against the government in Kiev.[19] The Parliament of Crimea called for an extraordinary session on February 21. The leader of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov stated that he suspected that the session might ask for Russian military intervention.[139]

On February 21, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) issued a statement which promised that "it will use severe measures to prevent any action taken against diminishing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."[d] The same day the pro-Russian Party of Regions who held 80 of the 100 seats in the Crimean Parliament,[141] did not discuss issues relating to the separation of Crimea from Ukraine and appeared to support the deal struck between President Yanukovich and the opposition to end the crises signed the same day.[142]

On February 23, 2014, the second day after the flight of Viktor Yanukovich, while in session of the Ukrainian parliament a deputy from "Batkivshchina" party, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko moved to include in the agenda a draft that would repeal the 2012 Law "On the principles of the state language policy". The motion was carried with 232 deputies voting in favor, the draft was included into the agenda, immediately put to a vote with no debate and approved with the same 232 voting in favor, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels.[143][144] Repeal of the 2012 Law "On the principles of the state language policy" was met with great disdain in Crimea, populated by a Russian-speaking majority[145] and Southern and Eastern Ukraine provoking waves of anti-government protests,[146] ultimately culminating with the Crimean crisis. The Christian Science Monitor reported: "The [adoption of this bill] only served to infuriate Russian-speaking regions, [who] saw the move as more evidence that the antigovernment protests in Kiev that toppled Yanukovich's government were intent on pressing for a nationalistic agenda."[147]

A few days later, on March 1, 2014, the acting President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, vetoed the bill effectively stopping its enactment.[148] The veto did little to address the unfolding crisis, perhaps because it came too late.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have both denied any human rights violations against Russian speakers in Ukraine that would justify Russia's actions.[149][150]

Legal aspects[edit]

The Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet[e] signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010, determined the status of the military bases and vessels in Crimea prior to the current crisis. Russia was allowed to maintain up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the Crimean Peninsula and Sevastopol. The Russian Black Sea fleet had basing rights in Crimea until 2042. However it is controversial if the recent troop movements were covered by the treaty.[152]

Both Russia and Ukraine are signatories to the Charter of the United Nations. The ratification of said charter has several ramifications in terms of international law, particularly those that cover the subjects of declarations of independence, sovereignty, self-determination, acts of aggression, and humanitarian emergencies. Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russian troops in the Crimean peninsula were aimed "to ensure proper conditions for the people of Crimea to be able to freely express their will",[153] whilst Ukraine and other nations argue that such intervention is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.[154] The Russian President also noted that the United Nations International Court of Justice handed down an advisory opinion in 2010 saying unambiguously that the unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo (for which there was no referendum nor agreement from Belgrade) was not prohibited by international law.[155] On the other hand, United States and Ukraine point out that by annexing Crimea Russia violated terms of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, by which Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their obligation to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine (including Crimea) and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.[156] The United States does not consider the Memorandum binding.[157]


On February 23 in Sevastopol, tens of thousands protested against the new authorities and voted to establish a parallel administration and civil defense squads created with the support of Russian Night Wolves bikers.[clarification needed] Same were created on February 22 in Simferopol, where about 5,000 had joined such squads. Protesters waved Russian flags and chanted "Putin is our president" and claimed they would refuse to pay further taxes to the state.[158]

On February 26, pro-Russian forces gradually took control of the Crimean peninsula. Russia initially claimed that the uniformed men were local self-defense forces but later admitted they were in fact Russian military personnel without insignia,[159] confirming the reports of non-Russian media.[40][41][160][161][162][163][164][165]

On the morning of 27 February, Berkut units from Crimea and other regions of Ukraine (dissolved by the decree of 25 February) seized checkpoints on the Isthmus of Perekop and Chonhar peninsula.[129][166] According to Ukrainian MP Hennadiy Moskal, former Chief of Crimean police, they had armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and other weapons.[167] Since then they have controlled all land traffic between Crimea and continental Ukraine.[167]

Also on the early morning of 27 February, men in military uniform in Simferopol, the capital city of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, seized the Crimean parliamentary building and the Council of Ministers building and replaced the Ukrainian flag with the Russian flag.[168] They ousted the prime minister appointed by the President of Ukraine and installed a pro-Russian politician, Sergey Aksyonov, as Crimea's prime minister.[169] Aksyonov's Russian Unity party took just 4 percent of the votes in the 2010 elections.[citation needed] Aksyonov illegally declared himself in charge of local military and law enforcement.[170] On 1 March, the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, decreed the Crimean legislature's appointment of Aksyonov as unconstitutional, as the position of prime minister is appointed by the president of Ukraine, and not elected by parliament.[citation needed] The Crimean legislature has declared its intention to hold a referendum on greater autonomy from Kiev on 25 May 2014, a move which Hatidzhe Mamutova, the head of the League of Crimean-Tatar Women, called illegal.[171] This was later moved up to 16 March.

Councilors in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea naval fleets, selected Russian citizen Aleksei Chalyi as mayor, as pro-Russian demonstrators chanted "a Russian mayor for a Russian city". Furthermore, Sevastopol's police chief said he would refuse orders from Kiev.[172] In Sevastopol, Kerch, and other Crimean cities, pro-Russian demonstrators pulled down the flag of Ukraine and replaced it with the flag of Russia in clashes with city officials.[173][174]

Russian units began moving into Crimea almost immediately after the press conference of former president Yanukovych held on 28 February 2014 in Rostov-on-Don, near the eastern border of Ukraine, where he called for Putin to "restore order" in Ukraine. During the conference Yanukovych insisted that military action was "unacceptable" and that he would not request Russian military intervention.[175][176] On 4 March 2014 Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, presented a photocopy of a letter signed by Victor Yanukovich on 1 March 2014 asking to use the Russian armed forces to "restore the rule of law, peace, order, stability and protection of the population of Ukraine".[177] Aksyonov also appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring the peace in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Both houses of the Russian legislature (Federal Assembly) voted on 1 March 2014 to give Vladimir Putin the right to use Russian troops in Crimea.[178][179]

On February 27 troops without insignia seized the Building of the Supreme Council of Crimea (the regional parliament) and the building of the Council of Ministers in Simferopol.[180] Berkut units, local militiamen and self-defence troops seized checkpoints on the Isthmus of Perekop and Chonhar peninsula.[167][181][182] Since then they control all traffic by land between Crimea and continental Ukraine.[167][182]

On February 28, while gunmen occupied the building, the Supreme Council held an emergency session.[42][43] It voted to terminate the Crimean government, and replace Prime Minister Anatolii Mohyliov with Sergey Aksyonov.[3][162] Aksyonov belonged to the Russian Unity party, which received 4% of the vote in the last election.[43] It also voted to hold a referendum on greater autonomy on 25 May. The gunmen had cut all of the building's communications and took MPs' phones as they entered.[42][43] No independent journalists were allowed inside the building while the votes were taking place.[43] Some MPs claimed they were being threatened and that votes were cast for them and other MPs, even though they were not in the chamber.[43]

On March 11, the Supreme Council and the City Council of Sevastopol jointly expressed their intention to unilaterally declare Crimea's independence from Ukraine as a single united nation with the possibility of joining the Russian Federation as a federal subject. The question of independence was put to a referendum.

On March 16, Official returns indicated nearly 96% in favor,[183] with a turnout of over 83%,[184] despite a boycott by Tatars and other opponents of the referendum.[185] The Ukrainian parliament declared the referendum unconstitutional.[186] The United States and the European Union condemned the vote as illegal,[187] and later imposed sanctions against persons deemed to have violated Ukraine's sovereignty.[188][189][190]

Ukrainian officials, as well as Mustafa Dzhemilev, Refat Chubarov and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People claimed that the voter turnout in the referendum among Crimeans could only be a maximum of 30–40 percent and that the referendum was undemocratic, hastily prepared, falsified and didn't reflect the real will of the Crimeans.[191] Mustafa Dzhemilev called the referendum "cynical" and "absurd", claiming that the right to self-determination only belongs to the indigenous people - the Crimean Tatar population.[192] Pro-Ukrainian activists were reported to have been persecuted and kidnapped, with 9 still reported missing[193][194] and pro-Russian billboards were seen in the streets before the referendum.[195]

On March 17, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.[196] President Putin claimed Crimea as a part of Russia on moral and material grounds, citing the principle of self determination and Crimea's strategic importance for Russia.[197]

On March 24, the Ukraine Ministry of Defense announces that approximately 50% of Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea have defected to the Russian military.[198][199]

On March 25, Russia awarded a Medal for the Return of Crimea to individuals who assisted in the annexation of Crimea. The reverse of the medallion dates "the return of Crimea" to February 20—March 18. This raises the possibility that Russia had awarded those involved in the February 20 killing of Maidan protesters, while Yanukovych was still president and before the Crimean crisis actually began.[200]

On March 27, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution declaring Crimea's Moscow-backed referendum invalid. The resolution passed with 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions in the 193-nation assembly.[201][202][203][204][205]

On April 15, Ukrainian parliament passed a bill declaring the southern Crimea peninsula as territory temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation and imposed travel restrictions on Ukrainians visiting Crimea.[53]

On April 17, during the 12th 'Direct Line with Vladimir Putin' the use of Russian armed forces along with Crimean self-defence troops was avowed by the Russian president.[206]

On 5 May, there appeared a blog on the website of the Russian President's Human Rights Council estimating that a "vast majority of the citizens of Sevastopol voted in favor of unification with Russia in the referendum (50-80%); in Crimea, various data show that 50-60% voted for unification with Russia, with a turnout of 30-50%," suggesting that only 15-30% of Crimeans actually voted for annexation.[207] The blog entry was taken down quickly.

On 9 May, a hundred thousand people gathered in Crimean Sevastopol to watch Victory Day parade, waving Russian flags and singing among other pieces the Russian anthem.[208]

On May 16, Sergei Aksyonov announced a ban on all public rallies aimed in particular at the annual commemoration of the Soviet deportation of the Tatars from Crimea, as the Tatars continue to be amongst those resisting Russia's occupation of the peninsula.[209]

In August Roskomnadzor started enforcing Internet censorship in Crimea Internet providers, including blocking large number of Ukraininan news sites.[210]

Non-Russian involvement[edit]

On March 2, 2014, Pavel Chernev, former member of the nationalist Attack party and current political secretary of "Orthodox Dawn" (Bulgarian: Православна Зора, Pravoslavna Zora), who is known for his pro-Putin views, revealed that the Bulgarian branch of the organization will be sending a group of Bulgarian volunteers to "protect ethnic Russians and ethnic Bulgarians from forceful Ukrainization". Chernev also claimed that they had already sponsored "tens of Orthodox fighters" (non-Bulgarian) to fly to Moscow and Crimea.[211][212] Simeon Kostadinov, another former Attack member, then representing the Nationalist Party in Bulgaria, and Chernev clarified that their mission has peaceful intentions, but will be prepared to give a good account of themselves in the unfortunate event of an escalation. Their contention was that the old regime could be considered preferable from the standpoint of the Bulgarian minority in Ukraine and the new authorities lacked legitimacy. Another small "international group based on the Pyrenean Peninsula" which included some Bulgarians and was supported by a Russian paramilitary organization was reported to have left for Ukraine on March 3. "Orthodox Dawn" displayed an interest in securing the backing of international actors for the 2014 referendum in Crimea and tried to recruit foreign election observers.[213] According to Bulgarian sources, drawing on reports made by Al Jazeera, 20 Bulgarian nationals arrived in Crimea. They formed part of the paramilitary formation Dobrovolets/Доброволец, which was under the control of Russian troops. Dobrovolets' area of operations also intended to include Odessa and Donetsk. Chernev stated that he will be visiting Crimea on March 15 and guaranteed that all the participants in the mission had undergone thorough screening to ensure that people with criminal convictions are weeded out.[214] Anton Kisse, the only deputy in the Verkhovna Rada with Bulgarian roots, spoke out against any foreign interventions, stating that "even the friendliest foreign state has no right to impose its vision of what constitutes proper order on Ukraine" and that "people will turn to Bulgaria if the need arises".[215] Chernev was one of the election observers for the 2014 referendum in Crimea,[216] on the invitation of Sergey Aksyonov.[217]

A very small group of Chetniks, a Serbian nationalist paramilitary force, travelled to Crimea to support Russia. Serbian and Russian nationalists share Slavic and Orthodox culture and anti-Western sentiment, and Chetniks claim to be in Russia's favour for support during the Yugoslav Wars.[218] The Chetniks were based in an Orthodox monastery. Their commanders Bratislav Jivković and Milutin Malisić had participated in previous armed conflicts – Jivković in the Bosnian War as part of the Serb Volunteer Guard while Malisić had been involved in the protection of the Serbian minority in Kosovo in the aftermath of the Kosovo War. Malisić reiterated that his paramilitary formation was committed to peace and did not want to shed the blood of fellow Slavs, viewing Ukrainians and Russians as brotherly ethnicities.[217]


As a result of the crisis, the two leading indexes of the Moscow Exchange fell in trading on March 3: the MICEX 10 declined 10.79 percent, equating to a loss in market capitalization of nearly $60 billion, and the RTS Index declined 12.01 percent to its lowest level since September 2009.[219] The next day, though, the MICEX rose 5.25%, recovering part of the losses. In response to this and the decline of the ruble, the Central Bank of Russia raised its interest rate from 5.5 to 7.0% and spent up to US$12 billion in reserves to bolster the currency.[220] The possibility for international sanctions against Russia has also been raised.[221]

There were worries that Russian gas exports to Europe and Ukraine may become disrupted by the conflict. Thirty percent of Europe's gas is imported from Russia, half of which flows through Ukrainian pipelines. On March 1, the Russian Energy Ministry decided to halt the subsidies of Russian gas to Ukraine.[222] The crisis could also affect worldwide grain supplies. Prices will likely rise because Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of corn.[221] The crisis resulted into the exit of several multinational companies from Crimea due to suspension of necessary financial and banking services.[223] The European Union also banned import of all goods from Crimea into its members states.[224]


Simferopol incident[edit]

Further information: Simferopol Incident

Over the course of the Crimean crisis, a Ukrainian soldier and a Crimean defense member were killed, another two Ukrainians sustained serious bullet injuries and two other Russian militiamen were wounded. During a controversial incident in Simferopol on March 18, some Ukrainian sources said that armed gunmen that were reported to be Russian special forces allegedly stormed the base.This was contested by Russian authorities, who subsequently arrested an alleged Ukrainian sniper in connection with the killings.[225][226]

At this stage, none of the accounts of this event could be verified independently.[227] The Ukrainian and the Crimean authorities provided conflicting reports of the event.[228] Furthermore, witnesses of the event said that there was no immediate evidence that any Russian soldiers were involved in the incident.[229]

The two casualties had a joint funeral attended by both the Crimean and Ukrainian authorities, and both soldiers were mourned together.[230] The incident is now under investigation by both the Crimean authorities and the Ukrainian military. [231][232]

Novofedorivka incident[edit]

On 6 April 2014, the Ukrainian defense ministry announced the shooting death of a Ukrainian Naval officer in the urban-type settlement of Novofedorivka.[233]

The incident took place outside the Novofedorivka Air Base in the military dormitory building, which was occupied by Ukrainian servicemen and their families that were awaiting relocation to mainland Ukraine. While Ukrainian Navy major Stansilav Karachevsky of the military unit No. 1100 was preparing his belongings in preparation to leave Crimea, an altercation between him and several soldiers on both sides broke out.[234][235]

The scuffle escalated to where Russian Spetsnaz Sergeant E.S. Zaitsev shot the unarmed officer twice in the head at point blank range with an AK-74 assault rifle on the 5th floor of the dormitory building where Russian soldiers were evacuating the troops. Major Karachevsky was pronounced dead immediately.

A second Ukrainian personnel, identified as Captain Artem Yermolenko, was beaten and abducted by Russian soldiers. Russian sources confirmed the death of a Ukrainian major perpetrated by one of its sergeants, but it said that it was an incident where a group of drunk Ukrainian soldiers on their way to the sleeping quarters encountered Russian soldiers manning a checkpoint on the road to the air base where they were previously stationed.

After the incident, the major's body was reportedly taken by Russian troops.[236]

Reactions in Ukraine and Russia[edit]


Three ex‐presidents of Ukraine accused Russia of interfering in Crimean affairs.[237] Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov at the start of the protests warned that there is a "serious risk" of separatism in parts of the country.[22][28] On February 27, 2014, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine claimed that regional referendum is impossible due to lack of necessary legislative basis for such.[238] On February 27, 2014, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov was instructed to develop a new law "about language".[239] On February 28, a freelance journalist wrote on Twitter that President Yanukovych said that any military actions are unacceptable and he will not ask Russia for it.[240] According to President Yanukovych he believed that Crimea must remain part of Ukraine.[241][242]

The new Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated in his maiden speech on February 27 that "Ukraine will use all legal constitutional methods to preserve the territorial integrity of the state. Crimea was, is and will be a part of Ukraine!".[243]

On February 28, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution on events in Crimea:[244] "Verkhovna Rada demands from the Russian Federation to stop steps that have signs of encroachment on state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including to refuse supporting separatism in Ukraine in any form".[244][245]

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov dismissed Yuriy Ilyin as the Chief of the General Staff. During the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution Ilyin was reportedly preparing a military operation against the protest movement in Kiev. Ilyin reportedly had a heart attack after meeting with the newly appointed mayor of Sevastopol.[246]

Due to the events in Crimea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine initiated bilateral consultations with Russia and indicated its readiness to initiate consultations within the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances framework if it receives no response.[247]

On March 1, the acting president of Ukraine signed an edict in which he pointed out that appointment of Sergey Aksyonov as the Chairman of the Councils of Ministers of Crimea was in violation of the Constitution of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.[248] The incumbent and two former presidents of Ukraine – Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko—called on Ukraine to renounce the Kharkiv Agreements.[249] Leonid Kuchma's press-center later denounced such a statement on behalf of Leonid Kuchma.[250] The acting President of Ukraine purportedly ordered the Armed Forces of Ukraine to full combat readiness.[251]

On March 4, the district administration court of Kiev cancelled the decision of the council concerning a no confidence vote to the Council of Ministers of Crimea and the appointment of Aksyonov as a chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea as well as declared illegal organization and conduct of a local referendum on improving the status and powers of autonomy.[252]

On March 17, Ukraine recalled its ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko from the Russian Federation officially to discuss the situation about Crimea.[253][254]

On March 19, Ukraine drew up plans to withdraw all their soldiers and their families to mainland Ukraine from Crimea "Quickly and Efficiently".[255]

On March 25, Ukrainian defense minister, Ihor Tenyukh, resigned due to the public criticism of being indecisive and slow to give orders to Ukrainian military units in Crimea. His resignation was approved only after a repeated vote in the Ukrainian parliament.[256] He resigned and was replaced by Colonel General Mykhaylo Koval, who had served with the border guards in Crimea and was briefly kidnapped there in March. Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy stated in an interview that "Mistakes have been and will be made, but the new government is not afraid to fix them."[257]

The Ukrainian National Council for TV and Radio Broadcasting instructed all cable operators on March 11 to stop transmitting a number of Russian channels, including the international versions of the main state-controlled stations Rossiya 1, Channel One and NTV, as well as news channel Rossiya 24.[258]

The Kiev government has barred Russian men aged 16–60 and women aged 20–35 from entering Ukraine.[259]

Former President Viktor Yuschenko believes that the formerly imprisoned ex-Prime Minister and fierce political rival Yulia Tymoshenko "cut a deal" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which saw Ukraine give Crimea to Russia in exchange for Russia securing Tymoshenko's early release from prison.[260] Yushchenko said it is "quite strange" that Ukraine's Tymoshenko-dominated government has done nothing to secure the Crimean electricity and water infrastructure on the mainland, in addition to failing to stop "Russian agitators" from going to Donetsk and Kharkov.[260] Tymoshenko dismissed the charges as "anti-Ukrainian propaganda."[260]

Viktor Yanukovych[edit]

Results of the 2012 parliamentary election. Yanukovych's Party of Regions in blue.

Late at night on February 27, the ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who is wanted along with Zakharchenko under suspicion of mass killing of people,[261] arrived in Rostov-on-Don escorted by jet fighters.[262] On February 28, he conducted a press-conference.[262] In this press conference Yanukovych stated "Crimea must remain part of the Ukrainian state retaining broad autonomy rights".[263] According to him the unrest in Crimea was "an absolutely natural reaction to the bandit coup that has occurred in Kiev"; and he stated he was confident that the people of Crimea "do not want to obey and will not obey nationalists and bandits".[263] He insisted that military action was "unacceptable" and that he would not request Russian military intervention.[176][264] Still on March 4, 2014, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin showed a photocopy of the letter allegedly signed by Victor Yanukovich on March 1, 2014 where he demanded Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[265]

On March 11, Yanukovych vowed to return to Ukraine, calling upon the Ukrainian Armed Forces to not follow the "criminal orders" of the acting government in Kiev.[266] Yanukovych attacked the acting government in Ukraine as being a "band of ultranationalists and neo-fascists" that have replaced his government, and criticized their supposed Western backers.[266]

Republic of Crimea[edit]

Map denoting the subdivisions of Ukraine and the percentage of people that indicated Russian as their native language in the latest local census. Sevastopol identifies itself as the highest at 90.6% followed immediately by Crimea at 77.0%.

Operations of the Kerch Strait ferry were suspended on February 27, 2014.[267] The Ukrainians in Crimea called on Ukrainian officials to secure peace and security for Crimeans and for European officials to influence the Russian position in regards to separatist attitudes.[268] The new chairman of the Council of Ministers hopes to receive financial help from the Russian Federation with support from Viktor Yanukovych.[269] In the telephone conversation Volodymyr Konstantinov explained to Nestor Shufrych (MP) that Crimea does not want a secession, but only to expand its right.[270] The former chief of the general staff Yuriy Ilyin was reported to be hospitalized with a heart attack in the Ukrainian Navy hospital in Sevastopol.[271]

Members of the Crimean government have declared their acceptance of Yanukovych as the legitimate President of Ukraine, deputy chairman of the Crimean parliament Konstantin Bakharev has said: "Today, Yanukovych is the legitimate president," though he also addressed issues concerning him saying, "But we have questions for him, questions as the leader of the government about his moral responsibility before the society, before the party he once led, and before Crimeans."[272]

About one thousand residents of Crimea, mainly Crimean Tatars, have left Crimea for Ukraine.[273][274][275]

Party of Regions MP Yuriy Miroshnychenko urged the Crimean government to stop the referendum.[276] Another Party of Regions MP, Hanna Herman, commented the same day about Yanukovych's press conference, "He needs to ... prevent the illegal referendum."[277]


Request ("ultimatum") by Council of Ministers of Crimea to Ukrainian 55th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment in Yevpatoria to lay down arms under control of Russian Black Sea Fleet for the period of Crimean referendum

The State Duma Committee on Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, headed by Leonid Slutsky, visited Simferopol on February 25, 2014 and said: "If the parliament of the Crimean autonomy or its residents express the wish to join the Russian Federation, Russia will be prepared to consider this sort of application. We will be examining the situation and doing so fast."[278] They also stated that in the event of a referendum for Crimea region joining Russian Federation they would consider its results "very fast".[279][280] Later Slutsky announced that he was misunderstood by Crimean press and no decision regarding simplifying the process of acquiring Russian citizenship for people in Crimea has been made yet.[281] And added that if "fellow Russian citizens are in jeopardy you understand that we do not stay away".[282] On February 25, in a meeting with Crimean politicians he stated that Viktor Yanukovich was still the legitimate president of Ukraine.[283] That same day in the Russian Duma, they announced they were determining measures so that Russians in Ukraine who "did not want to break from the Russian World" could acquire Russian citizenship.[284]

On February 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian Armed Forces to be "put on alert in the Western Military District as well as units stationed with the 2nd Army Central Military District Command involved in aerospace defense, airborne troops and long-range military transport." Despite media speculation it was for in reaction to the events in Ukraine Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said it was in separate consideration from the unrest in Ukraine.[285] On February 27, 2014, the Russian government dismissed accusations about violation by the Russian side of the basic agreements in regards of the Black Sea Fleet: "All movements of armored vehicles are undertaken in full compliance with the basic agreements and did not require any approvals".[286][287][288]

On February 27, the Russian governing agencies presented the new law project on granting citizenship.[289]

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the West and particularly NATO to "abandon the provocative statements and respect the neutral status of Ukraine".[290] In its statement the ministry claims that agreement on settlement of the crisis which was signed on February 21 and was witnessed by foreign ministries from Germany, Poland and France has to this date, not been implemented[290] (Vladimir Lukin from Russia had not signed it[291]).

According to ITAR-TASS on February 28 the Russian Ministry of Transport discontinued its further talks with Ukraine in regards to the Kerch Strait Bridge project.[292] However, on March 3 Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia, signed a decree creating a subsidiary of Russian Highways (Avtodor) to build a bridge at an unspecified location along the Kerch strait.[293][294]

At least 30,000 people at March 15 protests, named March of Peace, which took place in Moscow a day before the Crimean referendum.

On Russian social networks there is a movement to gather volunteers who served in the Russian army to go to Ukraine.[295]

On February 28 President Putin stated it was of "extreme importance of not allowing a further escalation of violence and the necessity of a rapid normalisation of the situation in Ukraine" in telephone calls with key EU leaders.[176] Already on February 19 the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to the Euromaidan revolution as the "Brown revolution".[296][297]

The Federation Council approved that Russia may introduce a limited contingent of Russian troops in Crimea[clarification needed] for the security of the Black Sea Fleet and the Russians.[298]

In Moscow, on March 2, an estimated 27,000 rallied in support of the Russian government's decision to intervene in Ukraine.[299] The rallies received considerable attention on Russian state TV and were officially sanctioned by the government.[299]

Meanwhile, on March 1, five people who were picketing next to the Federation Council building against the invasion of Ukraine were arrested.[300] The next day about 200 people protested at the building of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow against Russian military involvement.[301] About 500 people also gathered to protest on the Manezhnaya Square in Moscow and the same number of people on the Saint Isaac's Square in Saint Petersburg.[302] On March 2, about eleven protesters demonstrated in Yekaterinburg against Russian involvement, with some wrapped in the Ukrainian flag.[303] Protests were also held in Chelyabinsk on the same day.[304] The opposition to the military intervention was also expressed by rock musician Andrey Makarevich, who wrote in particular: "You want war with Ukraine? It will not be the way it was with Abkhazia: the folks on the Maidan have been hardened and know what they are fighting for – for their country, their independence. [...] We have to live with them. Still neighborly. And preferably in friendship. But it's up to them how they want to live".[305] The Professor of the Department of Philosophy at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Andrey Zubov was fired for his article in Vedomosti, criticizing Russian military intervention.[306]

Russian President Vladimir Putin (seated, middle) speaks to the press on March 4, 2014, denouncing the events in Kiev as an "unconstitutional coup", and insisting that Moscow has a right to protect Russians in Ukraine.[307]

President Putin's approval rating among the Russian public has increased by nearly 10% since the crisis began, up to 71.6%, the highest in three years, according to a poll conducted by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research, released on March 19.[308] Additionally, the same poll showed that more than 90% of Russians supported unification with the Crimean Republic.[308]

On March 4, at press conference in Novo-Ogaryovo President Putin expressed his view on the situation that if a revolution took place in Ukraine, it is a new country with which Russia did not conclude any treaties.[309] He brought up an analogy with events of 1917 in Russia, when as a result of the revolution the Russian Empire fell apart and a new state was created.[309] However, he stated Ukraine would still have to honor its debts.

Around 100,000 people gathered in Crimean Sevastopol at Victory Day parade

Russian politicians have speculated that there are already 143,000 Ukrainian refugees in Russia.[310] The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refuted those claims of refugees increase in Russia.[311] At a briefing on March 4, 2014, the director of department of information policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Yevhen Perebiynis claimed that Russia was misinforming its own citizens as well as the entire international community to justify its own actions in the Crimea.[312]

On March 5, an anchor of the Russian-owned international news channel RT America, Abby Martin, in an interview with Piers Morgan, said she "did not agree" with how her employer RT was covering the Ukrainian crisis, but claims RT still supports her despite her differences of opinion.[313] Also on March 5, 2014, another RT America anchor, Liz Wahl, of the network's Washington, DC bureau, resigned on air, explaining that she could not be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin" and citing her Hungarian ancestry and the memory of the Soviet repression of the Hungarian Uprising as a factor in her decision.[314]

Prominent dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky said that Crimea should stay within Ukraine with broader autonomy.[315]

Tatarstan, a republic within Russia populated by Volga Tatars, has sought to alleviate concerns about treatment of Tatars by Russia, as Tatarstan is a gas-rich and economically successful republic in Russia.[316] On March 5, President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov signed an agreement on cooperation between Tatarstan and the Aksyonov government in Crimea that implied collaboration between ten government institutions as well as significant financial aid to Crimea from Tatarstan businesses.[316] On March 11, Minnikhanov was in Crimea on his second visit and attended as a guest present in the Crimean parliament chamber during the vote on the declaration of sovereignty pending the March 16 referendum.[316] The Tatarstan's Mufti Kamil Samigullin invited Crimean Tatars to study in madrasas in Kazan and declared support for their "brothers in faith and blood".[316] Mustafa Dzhemilev, a former leader of the Crimean Tatar Majlis believes that forces that are suspected to be Russian forces should leave the Crimean peninsula,[316] and has asked the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers into the region.[317]

On March 15, thousands of protesters (estimates varying from 3,000 by official sources up to 50,000 claimed by opposition) in Moscow marched against Russian involvement in Ukraine, many waving Ukrainian flags.[318] At the same time a pro government (and pro-referendum) rally, occurred across the street, counted thousands as well (officials claiming 27,000 with opposition claiming about 10,000).

International reactions[edit]

International reaction to the 2014 Crimean crisis according to official governmental statements.[f]
  Statements only voicing concern or hope for peaceful resolution to the conflict
  Support for Ukrainian territorial integrity
  Condemnation of Russian actions
  Condemnation of Russian actions as a military intervention or invasion
  Support for Russian actions and/or condemnation of the Ukrainian interim government
  Recognition of Russian interests
  No official statements / No data available
Results of the United Nations General Assembly vote about the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  In favor   Against   Abstentions   Absent   Non-members

There has been a range of international reactions to the crisis. A U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution 100 in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions in the 193-nation assembly that declared invalid Crimea's Moscow-backed referendum.[201][202][203][204][205] In a move supported by the Lithuanian President,[319] the United States government imposed sanctions against persons they deem to have violated or assisted in the violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.[188] The European Union suspended talks with Russia on economic and visa related matters; and is considering more stringent sanctions against Russia in the near future, including asset freezes.[189][190] while Japan announced sanctions which include suspension of talks relating to military, space, investment, and visa requirements.[320] The EU Commission decided on March 11 to enter into a full free-trade agreement with Ukraine this year.[321] On March 12, the European Parliament rejected the upcoming referendum on independence in Crimea, which they saw as manipulated and contrary to international and Ukrainian law.[322] The G7 bloc of developed nations (the G8 minus Russia) made a joint statement condemning Russia and announced that they will suspend preparations for the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi in June.[323][324] NATO condemned Russia's military escalation in Crimea and stated that it was breach of international law[325] while the Council of Europe expressed its full support for the territorial integrity and national unity of Ukraine.[326] The Visegrád Group has issued a joint statement urging Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and for Ukraine to take into account its minority groups to not further break fragile relations. It has urged for Russia to respect Ukrainian and international law and in line with the provisions of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.[327]

China said "We respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine". A spokesman restated China's belief of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and urged dialogue.[328][329]

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon of India stated that Russia has legitimate interests in Crimea and called for "sustained diplomatic efforts" and "constructive dialogue" to resolve the crisis.[330] However, the National Security Advisor is not a part of the Cabinet of India and, as such, Menon's statement was not an official statement issued by the government of India.[331] However, India subsequently made it clear that it will not support any "unilateral measures" against Russian government. "India has never supported unilateral sanctions against any country. Therefore, we will also not support any unilateral measures by a country or a group of countries against Russia."[332] Both Syria and Venezuela openly support Russian military action. Syrian President Bashar al Assad said that he supports Putin's efforts to "restore security and stability in the friendly country of Ukraine", while Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned Ukraine's "ultra-nationalist" coup.[333][334] Sri Lanka described Yanukovych's removal as unconstitutional and considered Russia's concerns in Crimea as justified.[335]

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called for change in EU energy policy as Germany's dependence on Russian gas poses risks for Europe.[336]

On March 13, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Moscow it risks massive damage to Russia, economically and politically, if it refuses to change course on Ukraine,[337] though close economic links between Germany and Russia significantly reduce the scope for Berlin to sanction the Eurasian giant.[338]

After Russia moved to formally incorporate Crimea, some worried whether it may not do the same in other regions.[339] US deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken said that the Russian troops massed on the eastern Ukrainian border may be preparing to enter the country's eastern regions. Russian officials stated that Russian troops would not enter other areas.[339] US Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, warned that the same troops were in a position to take over the separatist Russian-speaking Moldovan province of Transnistria.[339]

On April 9, PACE deprived Russia of voting rights.[340]

On 14 August, while visiting Crimea, Vladimir Putin ruled out pushing beyond Crimea. He undertook to do everything he could to end the conflict in Ukraine, saying Russia needed to build calmly and with dignity, not by confrontation and war which isolated it from the rest of the world.[341]


  Countries recognizing results of 2014 Crimean referendum

The 2014 Crimean referendum was recognized by 18 states, 15 of whom were UN members.

Five UN members (Afghanistan,[342] Nicaragua,[343] Russia,[344] Syria,[342] Venezuela[342]) have explicitly accepted the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol as federal subjects of Russia:

According to Belarus, Crimea is de jure part of Ukraine, but de facto part of Russia. Its wording thus far has been vague: it includes "Ukraine should remain an integral, indivisible, non-aligned state" and "As for Crimea, I do not like it when the integrity and independence of a country are broken", on the one hand, and "Today Crimea is part of the Russian Federation. No matter whether you recognize it or not, the fact remains." and "Whether Crimea will be recognized as a region of the Russian Federation de-jure does not really matter", on the other hand.[345]


Sanctions were imposed to prevent Russian and Crimean officials and politicians traveling to Canada, the United States, and the European Union. They were the most wide-ranging used on Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.[346]

Japan announced milder sanctions than the US and EU. These include suspension of talks relating to military, space, investment, and visa requirements.[347]

In response to the sanctions introduced by the U.S. and EU, the Russian Duma unanimously passed a resolution asking for all members of the Duma to be included on the sanctions list.[348] Head of the opposition A Just Russia party Sergei Mironov said he was proud of being included on the sanctions list, "It is with pride that I have found myself on the black list, this means they have noticed my stance on Crimea."[348] Russian companies started pulling billions of dollars out of Western banks to avoid any asset freeze.[349]

Three days after the lists were published, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a reciprocal sanctions list of US citizens, which consisted of 10 names, including House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Senator John McCain, and two advisers to President Obama. The ministry said in the statement, "Treating our country in such way, as Washington could have already ascertained, is inappropriate and counterproductive," and reiterated that sanctions against Russia would have a boomerang effect.[350] Several of those sanctioned responded with pride at their inclusion on the list, including John Boehner,[351] John McCain,[351] Bob Menendez,[352] Dan Coats,[351] Mary Landrieu,[353] and Harry Reid.[353]

On March 24, Russia has imposed retaliatory sanctions on 13 Canadian officials including members of the Parliament of Canada,[354] banning them from entering Russia. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said the sanctions were "a badge of honour."[355] Former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler also said that he considered the sanctions a badge of honour, not a mark of exclusion.[354]

In March 2014, The Christian Science Monitor reported, "The good news is that so far, Russia has shown no inclination to use the NDN [ Northern Distribution Network, key supply line to Afghanistan that runs through Russia] as leverage in the wake of US retaliation for its troop movements in Crimea."[356]

Expanded Western sanctions in mid-March coursed through financial markets, hitting the business interests of some Russia's richest people.[357] The Americans' centered on the heart of Moscow's leadership,[358] though the EU's initial list shied from targeting Putin's inner circle.[359] As ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's downgraded Russia's credit outlook,[360] Russian banks warned of a sanctions-induced recession,[361] the country braced for capital outflows for the first three months of 2014 to reach $70 billion,[362] more than the entirety of outflows for 2013,[363] and Russian government-bond issues plummeted by three-quarters compared with the same period the previous year.[364] Novatek, Russia's second-largest gas producer, saw $2.5bn in market value wiped out when its shares sank by nearly 10%, rendering Putin's close friend Gennady Timchenko, who has a 23% stake in the company, $575m poorer.[357] "I do hope that there is some serious diplomatic activity going on behind the scenes," said one Russian banker,[365] though others were more sanguine on the question of whether the sanctions would have any enduring effect,[360][366][367] and Russians, top and bottom, seemed defiant.[368] The official Russian response was mixed.[369]

Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Alexey Ulyukaev said what introduction of sectoral sanctions will lead to a serious decline of the Russian economy: economic growth of Russia will became seriously negative, the growth of volumes of investment will be even more negative, inflation will be on the rise, and government revenues and reserves will go down.[370]

As well as differences between the United States and Europe as a whole as to how to respond to the Russian-backed incursion, those same differences have played out among Eastern European countries.[371]

Sporting events[edit]

The game of the 21st round of the 2013-14 Ukrainian Premier League on March 15 between SC Tavriya Simferopol and FC Dynamo Kyiv was forced to take place in Kiev at NSC Olimpiysky instead of the Lokomotiv RSC in Simferopol.[372]


Several scholars, including Alexander J. Motyl, Paul A. Goble, Timothy D. Snyder, and Andreas Umland, have discussed the possibility of Russian military intervention in Crimea specifically, due to its unique geopolitical nature and demographics.[373][374] Political scientist Uriel Abulof suggested that instead of rejecting the referendum outright, the West should have proposed a moratorium on a free plebiscite, arguing that the clash over the principle of self-determination unearthed an emergent "global crisis of legitimacy."[197]

Nina L. Khrushcheva, the great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and a Russian Affairs professor at the The New School, New York City, said that the aim of Crimea had not necessarily been independence from Ukraine, but rather continued dependence on Russia. However, this instead led Putin to justify continued backing for Yanukovych as well as his own desires to re-take the peninsula. Nevertheless, she believed that Putin's long term goal may not have been annexation of Crimea, since this might have caused ethnic Crimean Tatars, who had been forcibly displaced by Stalin to Central Asia, to demand a return to Crimea and possibly cause the Islamic insurgency to spread out of the Northern Caucasus. Furthermore, she also stated that if Russia had set a precedent of recovering "lost territory", this could inspire countries such as China or Georgia to demand back their own "stolen lands".[375]

Volodymyr Panchenko, of the Kiev-based think-tank International Center for Policy Studies, said on February 28 that the aim of Russia is for Crimea to be "more or less controlled by Russian troops," but that if or when a referendum is held "more than 80 percent" of votes would be for independence from Ukraine. The way events are unfolding in Crimea "is not a good precedent for the other provinces."[376]

Russian opposition leader and chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Ukrainian MP Lesya Orobets (Batkivshchyna), former foreign minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg, as well as the Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada John Baird all compared Russia's actions to Nazi Germany's policy before the start of World War II, after the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.[377][378][379][380][381]

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt called Russia's actions "perfectly understandable", and considers sanctions being imposed by the US and EU "foolish".[382] Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack F. Matlock, Jr. said in an interview with the Foreign Policy: "If there had been no possibility of Ukraine ever becoming part of NATO, and therefore Sevastopol becoming a NATO base, Russia would not have invaded Crimea."[383]

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has defended the Crimean referendum: "While Crimea had previously been joined to Ukraine [in 1954] based on the Soviet laws, which means [Communist] party laws, without asking the people, now the people themselves have decided to correct that mistake."[384]

Ukraine's Chief Rabbi, Yaakov Bleich, described Putin's accusations of anti-semitism from Ukrainians towards Jews as a pretense for invasion as "what the Nazis did during the time of the Anschluss in Austria."[385]

Commentaries and editorials published by China's state-run Xinhua News Agency[386] and Global Times[387] supported Russia's position on the situation, though Chinese president Xi Jinping said China's position was neutral, and noted Crimea's status does not meaningfully affect his country.[388]

Ukraine's territorial integrity[edit]

The crisis aroused discussion of the concept of "territorial integrity".[389] The phrase was used by many governments and commentators,[389] and according to Erik Voeten, referred to the idea that borders could only be changed by mutual agreement between two countries. Voeten argued that while the principle produces less conflict, "the status quo looks best to states that won the last war," and did not appeal to Russia as much as to Western states.[389] Fareed Zakaria stated that the situation in Crimea involved a "global principle: whether national boundaries can be changed by brute force," and questioned what effects it might have on other regions with contested boundaries.[390] Bryan Frederick of the RAND Corporation stated "the widely accepted principle that international borders are not subject to further revision" had been responsible for decreased international conflict in recent decades, and that Russia's involvement threatened the idea, which had been eroding since the Russo-Georgian War and as a result of the Kosovo independence precedent.[391]

A wider partitioning of Ukraine, while opposed by many commentators[392] and governments,[393] had a few proponents.[394][395] Media were accused of exaggerating the regional differences in Ukraine through misleading maps implying clear linguistic or ethnic boundaries.[392] Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed to partition Ukraine on historical grounds.[396][397] He sent letters to the governments of Poland,[396][398][399] Romania,[400] and Hungary;[401] none took the idea seriously. Zhirinovsky's position conflicted from the Kremlin's,[402] but some considered it a reflection of increasing nationalism in Russia.[396]

Some, such as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko,[403] also considered Russia's proposal to federalize Ukraine, as a threat to Ukraine's territorial integrity. Mykola Riabchuk argued that the result would be "highly vulnerable to Russian subversion, manipulation and sabotage."[404]

Russian campaign awards[edit]

Related places[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Emil (2010) "between 1443 and 1783, a strong and prosperous state, the crimean [sic] Khanate, ruled most of the people making up the Crimean Tatars. After Russia conquered the Khanate, Catherine the Great gave away the larger and better parts of the region to her close advisors and friends, who soon seized all Tatar lands. This led to the first mass emigration of Crimean Tatars, beginning an exodus, mostly to Turkey, that continues today.[59]
  2. ^ Flintoff (2013) "In 1944, on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, the entire population of Tatars on the Crimean Peninsula was rounded up and sent to the deserts of Soviet Central Asia. Nearly 70 years after that wartime atrocity, the Tatar population is still working to reassert itself in its homeland."[60]
  3. ^ Ghosh (2014) "The Tatars [...] once dominated the Crimean peninsula, but they are now a minority there, accounting for only about 12 percent of the population."[61]
  4. ^ It also noted that "certain politicians, local government officials, leaders of civil society organizations, and radically inclined individuals have attempted to create grounds for escalating the civil conflict, and have spread autonomous and separatist attitudes among the people, which could lead to the demise of our as a united nation and loss of its national sovereignty." In addition, the statement said that certain lawmakers of every level have begun separatist negotiations with representatives of foreign nations. "Open consultations are being held on the possible division of the country into separate parts in violation of the Ukrainian constitution," read the statement. "This could lead to an escalation of conflict between different sectors of society, inciting ethnic or religious hatred and military conflict."[140]
  5. ^ Dilanian (2014) "CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the vital Crimea region, so Russia may not consider its recent troop movements to be an invasion, U.S. officials said."[151]
  6. ^ If an official position can be sorted in more than one category, the "strongest" position was marked (from the "call for a peaceful resolution" to "interpretation as a military intervention" consecutively). For the sources see the image description.



  1. ^ "Is Crimea gone? Annexation no longer the focus of Ukraine crisis". CNN. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Russia Stages a Coup in Crimea". The Daily Beast. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Gumuchian, Marie-Louise; Smith-Spark, Laura; Formanek, Ingrid (27 February 2014). "Gunmen seize government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea, raise Russian flag". CNN. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Avakov named seizure of airports in Crimea armed invasion and occupation, Ukrinform, 28 February 2014 
  5. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Crimea MPs vote to join Russia". BBC News. 6 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Putin signs treaty to add Crimea to map of Russia". The Concord Monitor. 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
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Other references

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  22. Prime Minister of Canada. "Statement on the situation in Ukraine"{{inconsistent citations}} 
  23. "Ukraine crisis: EU gives Russia 48-hour deadline to return troops to barracks in Crimea". The Telegraph (UK){{inconsistent citations}} 

Further reading[edit]

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