Showing posts with label Crimea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crimea. Show all posts

26 March 2014

Crimea in the spotlight: History repeating itself ? Two opinions

Is Putin taking a page out of Hitler's book? Two opinions

Two opinions reposted:

Richard Cohen, Washington Post:
Putin forces us to reconsider poor Neville Chamberlain

Pardon the cliche, but I think we have come upon a teachable moment. I am referring to the crisis in Ukraine and what it teaches us, not just about the future but also about the past. Vladimir Putin has turned us all into Neville Chamberlain. The umbrella, please.

Chamberlain is famous for the Munich Agreement and his statement that, by acquiescing to Hitler’s demands, he had brought Britain and Europe “peace for our time.” He and the French gave Hitler the Sudetenland, which was the name applied to the substantially German areas of what was then Czechoslovakia. Hitler was a monster, but in this case his argument had a superficial appeal: Germans, he contended, ought to be in Germany.

What complicates matters is that we now know — indeed, we soon learned — that for Hitler the Sudetenland represented mere batting practice. He was soon to invade Poland and much of the rest of Europe, faltering only when he disregarded the bitter lesson Napoleon learned and plunged into Russia. It was a very cold winter.

Putin is demanding for Crimea more or less what Hitler wanted for the Sudetenland: Russians ought to be in Russia. No doubt the Crimean Russians agree and, come Sunday, will vote accordingly. That would place a patina of democracy — or at least self-determination — over what is essentially a power grab, but it will be hard to argue that the Crimean Russians aren’t getting the government they want, if not the one they deserve.

So we can see — can’t we? — that Chamberlain was not such a noodle after all. He certainly appeased Hitler. But the Western world — needing Russian gas for Germany, Russian rubles for London flats — over time probably will do the same with Putin. Just as we — especially our European brethren — can see the logic of Putin’s demands, so could Chamberlain appreciate that the Sudeten Germans might be on the wrong side of the border. Hitler’s homicidal anti-Semitism, among other character blemishes, bothered them not a bit. No one’s perfect, after all.

The fly in my Sudeten ointment is that, as with Chamberlain in 1938, we are not sure with whom we are dealing. Hitler soon announced himself, making Chamberlain appear the fool then and forevermore. But what of Putin? Will he stop at Crimea or, after a pause, plunge into the rest of eastern Ukraine, which has many Russian speakers? And then, what next? Will he endeavor to protect ethnic Russians in, say, Estonia? Almost 25 percent of that country is ethnic Russian. How about Latvia, which is about 27 percent Russian. These are healthy numbers; if these Russian minorities become endangered — or are merely said to be — a Russian ruler has an obligation to act, da?

Hitler made things easy. By 1938, he had already purged (murdered) the hierarchy of his vaunted brown shirts, instituted the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws and, a bit more than a month after he signed the Munich Agreement, launched the vast pogrom known as Kristallnacht. By then, too, he had ruthlessly suppressed all dissent, created the first of many concentration camps and lit the German night with bonfires of unacceptable books.

Putin is no angel, but he has concentrated power without widespread violence or murder. While the gulag remains mostly a memory, he has sent his opponents to labor camps, such as YaG-14, where the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was eventually sentenced. Putin is autocratic and kleptomaniacal, but he is not Hitler or Stalin. He has a keen ear for the 24-hour news cycle and must have noticed that the Ukraine story has slipped off Page 1 and, on TV, is not as important as the weather.

It would be wrong to allow Putin’s seizure of Crimea to fall into some sort of memory hole. Putin got away with the seizure of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 (George W. Bush was president then) and now he seems poised to retain Crimea — at the very least. In the long term, he knows we are short-term thinkers.

This teachable moment has many students. Around the world, there are nations that suffer the grievous loss of this or that strip of land, even worthless rocky islands in the middle of nowhere. What have they learned? I hope it’s not that the rest of us have learned nothing.

Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal:
It's Too Early to Say Putin Is Using Hitler's Playbook

Crimea is not Sudetenland, Putin is not Hitler, and Obama is not Chamberlain.

"I believe it is peace for our time," Neville Chamberlain said, standing outside 10 Downing Street on Sept. 30, 1938, upon returning from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Germany.

Those infamous words by the British prime minister, which followed a deal to give Nazi Germany a part of Czechoslovakia in return for a promise of no war, have been repeated for more than 75 years as the example of appeasing to a dictator in modern history.

And now, a growing choir of politicians and pundits, warning of the consequences of Russian aggression in Ukraine, are using it too.

 On the same day that Hillary Clinton said that Vladimir Putin's claims of protecting ethnic Russians was "reminiscent" of Hitler's claims for ethnic Germans living in Sudetenland, Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, told the House floor that the world was acting like Chamberlain "as Russia continues to gobble up sovereign states."

Comparisons to Hitler are overdone and often inappropriate. The man did kill 6 million Jews and brought the world to war. But in this case, those on the left and right seem to be comfortable suggesting that Crimea is the new Sudetenland.

So, what actually happened in that slice of the former Czechoslovakia in 1938?

Sudetenland is a thin region in the northwestern, western, and southwestern parts of what's now the Czech Republic, bordering Germany. At the time, it was mostly inhabited by German speakers who were particularly vulnerable to unemployment and poverty during the 1930s—making it easier for some to cling to political extremism.

As Hitler expanded his reach in Europe, annexing Austria and looking to enlarge the Third Reich, he started coordinating with the local Nazi Party to pressure the Czechoslovakian government for more minority rights for ethnic Germans. Those rights were granted, but Hitler pushed further. He wanted to annex Sudetenland, and he threatened to go to war to secure the region.

Fearing a second major conflict in their lifetimes, Britain and France met with Germany and Italy to find a solution. Czechoslovakia was not included in the meetings. After several rounds of negotiation and threats of military force from Hitler, the four parties met in Munich to agree to a solution that would let Germany annex Sudetenland and immediately occupy the territory militarily. Later, this would make Germany's invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia five months later easier, because Hitler had taken away any sort of border defense.

Chamberlain, Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier signed the Munich Agreement on Sept. 30, 1938, labeled as a victory for peace.

Right now, it's fair to say that Vladimir Putin is making similar claims of protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea. Crimea, like that region of Czechoslovakia, is also strategic militarily and plagued by a weak central government.

But the position that the world finds itself in now is completely and utterly different than in 1938. Putin is not Hitler, in neither intentions nor actions. Ukrainian government leaders are at the table and involved in international discussions. And Western leaders have not signed Crimea over to Russia for a promise of peace.

Could Crimea for Putin, like Sudetenland for Hitler, be "batting practice," as The Washington Post's Richard Cohen said in a Tuesday column? Will Putin now go after countries in the region with large Russian populations like Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, as Hitler did in Czechoslovakia and Poland? Or is this an isolated instance?

There are similarities between that infamous moment in modern history and what we face today, and leaders should want to prevent such atrocities again. But these questions remain unanswered. It is just too early to call Putin Hitler and Obama Chamberlain.

20 March 2014

Beguile: Lets baffle them with beauty while we steal Ukraine's Warships

Clever politics: The Honey Pot reinvented by Russia

How to distract the male population of the west from what we are really doing:
Let's put an attractive girl in a uniform, and make her the spokesperson for the new Republic of Crimea.

Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea's new Attorney General

Distract the media with our honeypot, block the escape of any Ukranian warships, and while no-one's looking we'll quickly send some militia to take over these ships.

Takeover: A man in an unmarked uniform and wearing a mask holds a gun as he climbs aboard the Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky in Sevastopol, Crimea

Masked gunmen take over Ukrainian ships in port

Trapped: The Ukrainian ship Ternopil  is seen in the harbour in Sevastopol as a Russian ship blocks its exit

Trapped: The Ukrainian ship Ternopil is seen in the harbour in Sevastopol as a Russian ship blocks its exit

Call me cynical, but someone once wrote that Warfare is Man's second most favourite pastime. 

Clearly the thinking here is that the favourite pastime will divert attention from the second favourite. Clearly it has. Spawning Manga images by the dozens, her looks have diverted attention from the gravity of the situation. Devious.


Stuff NZ has showcased her looks, (Clicky) but all but ignored the first death by shooting and annexation of the Ukranian fleet in Sebastopol:

Surrounded: Russian naval vessels block the Ukrainian ship Slavutich (pictured left) at her mooring in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Thursday

Ukranian ship blocked in: photo Reuters (Daily mail)

5 March 2014

Russia and the Crimea 12 Worrying facts

Russia in the Crimea: A keg of gunpowder waiting for a spark?

Is Russia Is Ready To Fight A War Over Crimea: 12 Signs That may suggest so
 Original article Michael Snyder

Russia will not give up the Crimea without a fight. The Russian Black Sea fleet's main base at Sevastopol is too strategically important.  In addition, ethnic Russians make up approximately 60  % of the population of Crimea, and most of the population is rabidly pro-Russian.  In fact, many prominent Crimean politicians are already calling for reunification with Russia.

If you have been thinking that Russia is just going to pack up shop and go home now that pro-European protesters have violently seized power in Kiev, you can quit holding your breath.  The truth is that Russia is more than willing to fight a war over Crimea.  And considering the fact that vitally important pipelines that pump natural gas from Russia to the rest of Europe go right through Ukraine, it is not likely that Russia will just willingly hand the rest of Ukraine over to the U.S. and the EU either.  If the U.S. and the EU push too hard in Ukraine, a major regional war may erupt which could ultimately lead to something much larger.

Russia and Ukraine have very deep historical ties.  Most Americans may not think that Ukraine is very important, but the Russians consider Ukraine to be of the utmost strategic importance.

As an American, how would you feel if another nation funded and organized the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Canadian government and replaced it with a government that was virulently anti-American?

By doing this to Ukraine, the United States and the EU are essentially sticking a pin in Russia's eye.
Needless to say, Russia is extremely angry at this point and they are gearing up for war.

The following are 12 signs that Russia is ready to fight a war over Crimea...

#1 More Russian military vehicles continue to pour into Crimea.

#2 Russian military vehicles have been photographed in the main square of Sevastopol.

#3 Russian military jets near the border with Ukraine have been put on combat alert.

#4 Russia has ordered "surprise military exercises" along the Ukrainian border.

#5 In connection with those "exercises", it is being reported that Russia has deployed 150,000 troops along the border with Ukraine.

#6 Russia already has approximately 26,000 troops stationed at their naval base in Sevastopol.

#7 Russian ships carrying additional soldiers have been spotted off the coast of Crimea.

A large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov has arrived near the Russia Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol, which Russia has leased from Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This ship is reported to be carrying as many as 200 soldiers and has joined four additional ships carrying an unknown amount of Special Forces troops. also reported that personnel from the 45th Airborne Special Forces unit and additional divisions had been airlifted into Anapa, a city on Russia’s Black Sea coastline. According to the website of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Filchenkov can carry 300 troops + 1,700 tons including about 20 tanks and various trucks or 40 AFV's.

#8 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the following statement to reporters on Wednesday...

"Measures are taken to guarantee the security of our facilities."

Russian military vessels are anchored at a navy base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, February 27, 2014 (Reuters)

#9 An unidentified Russian official has told the Financial Times that Russia is willing to use military force to protect Crimea...

Moscow earlier revealed that it would be ready to go for war over the Crimea region in order to protect the large Russian population and army installations.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war. They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia,” an unidentified Russian official told the Financial Times.

#10 Officials in Sevastopol have "installed" a Russian citizen as mayor of the city.

#11 Approximately 120 pro-Russian gunmen have seized the Crimean parliament building and have raised the Russian flag.

#12 There are rumors that Russian authorities have offered protection to ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych...

Viktor F.Yanukovych, the ousted president of Ukraine, declared on Thursday that he remained the lawful president of the country and appealed to Russia to “secure my personal safety from the actions of extremists.” Russian news agencies reported that he had already arrived in Russia, but officials did not immediately confirm that.

No matter what the "new government" in Kiev says, and no matter how hard the U.S. and the EU push, Russia will not give up the Crimea.  The following is what a recent Debka article had to say about the matter...

" There is no way that President Vladimir Putin will relinquish Russian control of the Crimean peninsula and its military bases there - or more particularly the big Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol. This military stronghold is the key to Russia’s Middle East policy. If it is imperiled, so too are Russia’s military posture in Syria and its strategic understandings with Iran."

And you know what?
The people of the Crimea do not want Russia to leave either.  In fact, they overwhelmingly want Russia to help defend them against the "new government" in Kiev.

As you read this, militia groups are being formed in Crimea to fight back against the "nationalist invasion" that they are anticipating.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Time Magazine article...

Many of the people at the rally in Sevastopol were not just ready to believe. They were convinced of the imminent nationalist invasion. What scared them most were the right-wing political parties and militant groups that have played a role in Ukraine’s revolution. “What do you think they’re going to do with all those weapons they seized from police in Kiev? They’re going to come here and make war,” said Sergei Bochenko, who identified himself as the commander of a local militia group in Sevastopol called the Southern Russian Cossack Battalion.

In preparation, he said, his group of several hundred men had armed themselves with assault rifles and begun to train for battle. “There’s not a chance in hell we’re going to accept the rule of that fascist scum running around in Kiev with swastikas,” he said. That may be overstating the case. Nowhere in Ukraine has the uprising involved neo-Nazi groups, and no swastikas have appeared on the revolution’s insignia. But every one of the dozen or so people TIME spoke to in Sevastopol was certain that the revolt was run by fascists, most likely on the payroll of the U.S. State Department."

And just remember what happened back in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Russians have already shown that they are not afraid to militarily intervene in order to protect Russian citizens.

So what would the U.S. and the EU do if a war erupts between Russia and Ukraine ?
Do you think they would risk a direct military confrontation with Russia in order to help Ukraine?

US State Department's take on Russian Claims:

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC March 5, 2014

"As Russia spins a false narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine, the world has not seen such startling Russian fiction since Dostoyevsky wrote, “The formula ‘two plus two equals five’ is not without its attractions.”

Below are 10 of President Vladimir Putin’s recent claims justifying Russian aggression in the Ukraine, followed by the facts that his assertions ignore or distort.

1. Mr. Putin says:  Russian forces in Crimea are only acting to protect Russian military assets. It is “citizens’ defense groups,” not Russian forces, who have seized infrastructure and military facilities in Crimea.

The Facts:  Strong evidence suggests that members of Russian security services are at the heart of the highly organized anti-Ukraine forces in Crimea. While these units wear uniforms without insignia, they drive vehicles with Russian military license plates and freely identify themselves as Russian security forces when asked by the international media and the Ukrainian military. Moreover, these individuals are armed with weapons not generally available to civilians.

2. Mr. Putin says:  Russia’s actions fall within the scope of the 1997 Friendship Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

The Facts:  The 1997 agreement requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, which have given them operational control of Crimea, are in clear violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

3. Mr. Putin says:  The opposition failed to implement the February 21 agreement with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Facts:  The February 21 agreement laid out a plan in which the Rada, or Parliament, would pass a bill to return Ukraine to its 2004 Constitution, thus returning the country to a constitutional system centered around its parliament. Under the terms of the agreement, Yanukovych was to sign the enacting legislation within 24 hours and bring the crisis to a peaceful conclusion. Yanukovych refused to keep his end of the bargain. Instead, he packed up his home and fled, leaving behind evidence of wide-scale corruption.

4. Mr. Putin says:  Ukraine’s government is illegitimate. Yanukovych is still the legitimate leader of Ukraine.

The Facts:  On March 4, President Putin himself acknowledged the reality that Yanukovych “has no political future.” After Yanukovych fled Ukraine, even his own Party of Regions turned against him, voting to confirm his withdrawal from office and to support the new government. Ukraine’s new government was approved by the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament, with 371 votes – more than an 82% majority. The interim government of Ukraine is a government of the people, which will shepherd the country toward democratic elections on May 25th – elections that will allow all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country.

5. Mr. Putin says:  There is a humanitarian crisis and hundreds of thousands are fleeing Ukraine to Russia and seeking asylum.

The Facts:  To date, there is absolutely no evidence of a humanitarian crisis. Nor is there evidence of a flood of asylum-seekers fleeing Ukraine for Russia. International organizations on the ground have investigated by talking with Ukrainian border guards, who also refuted these claims. Independent journalists observing the border have also reported no such flood of refugees.

6. Mr. Putin says:  Ethnic Russians are under threat.

The Facts:  Outside of Russian press and Russian state television, there are no credible reports of any ethnic Russians being under threat. The new Ukrainian government placed a priority on peace and reconciliation from the outset. President Oleksandr Turchynov refused to sign legislation limiting the use of the Russian language at regional level. Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers have filed petitions attesting that their communities have not experienced threats. Furthermore, since the new government was established, calm has returned to Kyiv. There has been no surge in crime, no looting, and no retribution against political opponents.

7. Mr. Putin says:  Russian bases are under threat.

The Facts:  Russian military facilities were and remain secure, and the new Ukrainian government has pledged to abide by all existing international agreements, including those covering Russian bases. It is Ukrainian bases in Crimea that are under threat from Russian military action.

8. Mr. Putin says:  There have been mass attacks on churches and synagogues in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The Facts:  Religious leaders in the country and international religious freedom advocates active in Ukraine have said there have been no incidents of attacks on churches. All of Ukraine’s church leaders, including representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, have expressed support for the new political leadership, calling for national unity and a period of healing. Jewish groups in southern and eastern Ukraine report that they have not seen an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

9. Mr. Putin says:  Kyiv is trying to destabilize Crimea.

The Facts:  Ukraine’s interim government has acted with restraint and sought dialogue. Russian troops, on the other hand, have moved beyond their bases to seize political objectives and infrastructure in Crimea. The government in Kyiv immediately sent the former Chief of Defense to defuse the situation. Petro Poroshenko, the latest government emissary to pursue dialogue in Crimea, was prevented from entering the Crimean Rada.

10. Mr. Putin says:  The Rada is under the influence of extremists or terrorists.

The Facts:  The Rada is the most representative institution in Ukraine. Recent legislation has passed with large majorities, including from representatives of eastern Ukraine. Far-right wing ultranationalist groups, some of which were involved in open clashes with security forces during the EuroMaidan protests, are not represented in the Rada. There is no indication that the Ukrainian government would pursue discriminatory policies; on the contrary, they have publicly stated exactly the opposite.

3 March 2014

Sabres in the Crimea (again?)

So the Sabres are rattling in the Crimea again:

Vladimir Putin has decided that it would be good idea to take back Sebastopol and the Crimea from The Ukraine. The Crimea has been a hotbed of contention for centuries, holding a key position on the Black Sea.
The retoric smacks of Adolf Hitler though: " Lets reunite all the German (read Russian in this context) speaking people of this area." -  Sounds a little like Rhineland, Austria or Sudetenland, doesn't it? 

So I've had a little look at the history of the area:

Crimea is an eastern Ukrainian peninsula (click to map) located on the Black Sea. It’s connected to the rest of the country by a small strip of land. Out of its 2 million residents, about 60 percent identify as Russian. That’s the highest concentration of Russian speakers in Ukraine. Although the territory belongs to Ukraine, Russia stationed part of its Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol as part of a pre-existing agreement between the two countries.

 Crimea hasn’t always been part of Ukraine. Here’s a summary of what’s happened in the region since the Ottoman Empire used the peninsula as a hub for slave trade.

1783: Russia annexed Crimea.

1853: The Crimean War began, lasting three years. Russia lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. Crimea remained part of Russia. Charge of the Light Brigade, ouch:
( Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue and harry a retreating Russian artillery battery, a task well suited to light cavalry. Due to mis-communication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire.Although the Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire and scattered some of the gunners, the badly-mauled brigade was forced to retreat immediately. Thus, the assault ended with very high British casualties and no decisive gains.)

1917: Crimea briefly became a sovereign state before becoming a base for the White Army of anti-Bolshevik forces in the Russian War.

1921: The peninsula, now called the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, became part of the Soviet Union.

1942: Nazi Germany took control of Crimea:
The Crimea Campaign was an eight-month long campaign by Axis forces to conquer the Crimea peninsula, and was the scene of some of the bloodiest battles on the Eastern Front during World War II. The German, Romanian, and defending Soviet troops suffered heavy casualties as the Axis forces tried to advance through the Isthmus of Perekop linking the Crimean peninsula to the mainland at Perekop, from summer of 1941 through to the first half of 1942.

From the 26 September 1941 the German 11th Army and troops from the Romanian Third Army and Fourth Army were involved in the fighting, opposed by the Red Army's 51st Army and elements of the Black Sea Fleet. After the campaign, the peninsula was occupied by Army Group A with the 17th Army as its major subordinate formation.

Once the Axis (German and Romanian troops) broke through, they occupied most of Crimea, with the exception of the city of Sevastopol, which was given the title of Hero City for its resistance, and Kerch, which was recaptured by the Soviets during an amphibious operation near the end of 1941 and then taken once again by the Germans during Operation Bustard Hunt on 8 May. The Siege of Sevastopol lasted 250 days from 30 October 1941 until 4 July 1942, when the Axis finally captured the city.
Sevastapol, the main object of the campaign, was surrounded by German forces and assaulted on 30 October 1941. German troops were repulsed by a Soviet counterattack. Later, many troops evacuated from Odessa contributed to the defense of Sevastopol. The Germans then began an encirclement of the city.

Other attacks on 11 November and 30 November, in the eastern and southern sections of the city, failed.German forces were then reinforced by several artillery regiments, one of which included the railway gun Schwerer Gustav. Another attack on 17 December was repulsed at the last moment with the help of reinforcements, and Soviet troops landed on the Kerch peninsula the day after Christmas, to relieve Sevastopol. The Soviet forces remained on the peninsula until a 9 April German counterattack. They held on for another month before being eliminated on 18 May. With the distraction removed, German forces renewed their assault on Sevastopol, penetrating the inner defensive lines on 29 June. Soviet commanders had been flown out or evacuated by submarine towards the end of the siege, and the city surrendered on 4 July 1942, although some Soviet troops held out in caves outside of the city until the 9th.

In 1944, the Crimea was recaptured by troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front during the Crimean Offensive (8 April 1944 – 12 May 1944) and its three sub-operations:
  • Kerch–Eltigen Operation (31 October 1943 – 11 December 1943)
  • Perekop–Sevastopol Offensive Operation (8 April 1944 – 12 May 1944)
  • Kerch–Sevastopol Offensive Operation (11 April 1944 – 12 May 1944)

1944: Joseph Stalin forcibly deported all Muslim Tatars, a group of 300,000 who had lived on the peninsula for centuries, due to members’ alleged cooperation with Germany during World War II. Many returned to Crimea in the 1980s and 1990s.

1945: After World War II, the autonomous Soviet republic was dissolved and Crimea became a province of the Soviet Union called the Crimean Oblast.

1954: Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean Oblast to Ukraine. It’s often reported that it was a gesture of goodwill from Khrushchev, who had Ukrainian roots.

1991: The Soviet Union collapsed. Many expected President Boris Yeltsin, the new president of the Russian Federation, to take Crimea for Russia. But he didn’t bring it up during negotiations with Ukraine.

1997: Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty that allowed Russia to keep its fleet in Sevastopol. The agreement’s since been extended, so the fleet is set to remain there until at least 2042.

Though Khrushchev’s gesture had unclear motives, it didn’t seem like a problem for Russia at the time, only garnering a one-sentence write-up in the official Soviet newspaper. It became a bigger issue in the region once the Soviet Union collapsed decades later.

So the story of the Crimean Peninsula is long and complicated, to say the least. 

And there could be more news to come as war threatens Eastern Europe. Today, Crimea’s residents are divided on the issue of Russia’s military intervention. Generally speaking, ethnic Russians support Russia’s involvement in the region, while Tatars and Ukrainians express pro-Ukrainian sentiments.

 About 60 percent of people living in Crimea identify themselves as Russian.