|Crisis in Ukraine
Following the end of World War II, Stalin moved Crimea’s entire ethnic population of Tatars to Central Asia, moving many ethnic Russians into the area. In 1954, Stalin’s successor, Khrushchev, transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine for infrastructural and adminstral reasons. In December of 1991 during the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had a nationwide referendum and 90% of the population, including those living in Crimea, voted for independence but remained close ties with Russia. In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych was elected as President of Ukraine but the leader of the opposition party, Victor Yushchenko, led the Orange Revolution protests, forcing the government to have another election. Despite winning that election, Yushchenko was not fit in running Ukraine’s economy and maintaining foreign relations with Russia. In 2010, there were the presidential elections and Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovych won the elections. In November 2013, Yanukovych announced that Ukraine would abandon the agreement to strengthen ties with the E. U. and become closer allies with Russia.
Start of Revolts
The current situation in Ukraine began in late 2013, following the controversial governmental decision of abandoning the plan of signing an association agreement with the European Union to opt to an economic deal with Russia. Unsuccessful talks between the former Ukrainian President, Yanukovych, and Vladimir Putin lead to the disastrous revolts in January and February. By February, President Yanukovych fled Ukraine causing the opposition to assume power. Oleksandr Turchynov was appointed interim president, an action heavily condemned by Russia.
Crimea is formally known as the Republic of Crimea and the crisis has been one of the worst for the East-West world since the Cold War. Tension grew between Ukraine and the European Union, as Ukraine had to choose to side with either Russia or the EU. This caused clashes with the people within Ukraine because many Crimean citizens were of Russian descent. This conflict of opinion caused Ukraine to hold a referendum to acknowledge which country Crimea would belong to: Ukraine or Russia. The results of the referendum proved that Crimean citizens overwhelmingly wanted to side with Russia. However, this referendum was not approved by the United Nations and was deemed illegal due to the speculation of corruption and influence from the Russian government. However, the Russian government has denied all allegations of influence or forced entry into the nation.
The violence shifted from Crimea to the rest of the Eastern Ukraine in February of 2014. It began on the port of Mariupol on the Avoz Sea, along the Crimean Peninsula and the Russian border. After a deadly week of protest from the Kiev (with 77 deaths and police being accused for using live ammunition) protesters marched into government offices in the east.
On March 16 2014 Crimea held a referendum to vote whether or not the citizens wished to join Russia. 95.5% of Crimean citizens voted “yes” in support of joining Russia. However, the United Nations have condemned the actions of the Pro-Russian activists, deeming it illegal and unconstitutional.
After the unsuccessful Crimean referendum was held in mid-March, another referendum was held in eastern Ukraine. However this was not a government administered referendum and the European Union and the Obama administration said they would not recognize the results of the balloting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Some hope of progress arose after Russian leader, Putin, called for the referendum to be postponed. The results of this referendum, led by Pro-Russian activists, was in favor of separating from Ukraine. This referendum was opposed by Ukraine’s central government, stating that it only damages the delicacy of the country’s crisis. On May 25, Ukraine will hold their presidential elections, which may determine the future of Ukraine and their current rule under Russia.
Most experts agree the Donetsk referendum will not have much significance for the region. While the demand for the region's self-determination is high, the vote's dubious nature and logistical difficulties mean it is unlikely to get wide support from the local population or be recognised as genuine. Without direct help from Moscow, as was the case in Crimea, its results appear impossible to implement.