This essay will discuss Crimea’s recent annexation to Russia, which has caused much international discourse. The annexation and subsequent occurrences reveal key actors’ political motivations and policies. This essay notes that the Crimean annexation is a multifaceted issue that involves many actors, including the United States and many non-state actors. However, this essay will focus on the European region.
First, this essay will briefly summarise relevant historical factors. Second, it will discuss the Ukrainian position and its options following the violation of its sovereignty. Third, it explains Russia’s motivations for it’s anti-western actions and finally, we discuss European policy. This essay will argue that given historical and geopolitical factors, Crimea’s annexation is not entirely extraordinary. More extraordinary, is Russia’s dismissal of international laws and the sovereignty of the state. The Crimean predicament illustrates an ideological struggle between autocracy and the democratic Western world. It highlights the gap between liberalism and realism; particularly where the two systems try to operate in an entirely interdependent but anarchical world structure.
II. Historical information and the current situation
Dispute regarding the status of the Autonomous Region of Crimea may be traced back centuries. In the mid-1990s Crimea was deemed to be a ‘potential centre of unrest’ (Sasse, 2007), although such instability did not culminate. In the transitional period following the Cold War, Crimea eventually assimilated into Ukrainian polity with minimal conflict (Sasse, 2007). Despite assimilation, the majority of Crimean people viewed themselves as Russian (BBC News, 2014). Along with strong ethnic, regional and historical ties to Crimea, a high-capacity Russian military base was located on the Crimean peninsula under a bilateral agreement between the Ukraine and Russia (Ziabari, 2014). Notably, even before annexation, Russia’s influence over the Crimean region was considerable.
Russia annexed Crimea following a period of significant political unrest in the Ukraine. In late 2009, the Yanukovych government halted progression towards the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement, preferring an economic agreement with Russia (Deyermond, 2014). This decision sparked a series of events that are still unfolding. These included violent protests in Kiev, which resulted in the ousting of Yanukovych in favour of a pro-Western, anti-Russian government (Deyermond, 2014). Amidst the continuing political unrest, Russia intervened Crimea militarily in a bid to “protect the rights of ethnic Russians” (Australian Broadcasting Company, 2014). Despite Western condemnation, Putin conducted a referendum that resulted in Crimea’s annexation to Russia (ABC, 2014). Today, there are fears within the international community that his imperialist actions will extend beyond the confines of the Crimean borders. This essay does not...