Crimea is a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea and an autonomous, predominantly Russian-speaking, republic of Ukraine.
• In its early history, the Crimea was part of several major empires. By the 13th century, it was occupied by the Tatars – Turkic-speaking Muslims who were part of the Mongol Empire.
• The Crimea was annexed by Russian empress Catherine the Great in
• The Crimean War of 1853-56 pitted Russia against Great Britain and
• Allied forces took the city of Sevastopol, the home of the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet, after a long siege. By the war’s end, the Crimea lay in ruins.
• Crimea was the sight of brutal fighting during the 1917 Russian revolution and during World War II. During this time, Crimea was part of
the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
• In 1944, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin deported the entire Crimean Tatar population to Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union for their
alleged collaboration with the Nazis.
• In 1954, the Soviet Union, now under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federative
Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
• After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of independent Ukraine, and Moscow and Kyiv agreed to divide up the
• In a recent poll of Russians by the state-run All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion, 56 percent of the respondents said they saw
Crimea as part of Russia.
The accession of Crimea in the Russian federation was signed between Russia and Crimea on 18th march 2014 in Kremlin in Moscow. This was done following the referendum voted by the residents of Crimea (maximum of which are ethnic Russians) to break away from Ukraine and join Russia on 7th march 2014.This referendum was termed illegal by Ukraine and the western powers.
Ethnic Russians account for 58 percent of Crimea’s population, while Ukrainians make up 24 percent. Crimean Tatars, who began returning to the peninsula from exile after the fall of the Soviet Union, comprise 12 percent of its population.
Vladimir PUTIN, the president of Russia signed a decree that recognises Crimea as a sovereign state. This signing of the decree has paved a way for absorption. This signing of the decree came after the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine declared itself as an independent state.
The UN general assembly passed the non-binding resolution that refuses recognition of annexation of Crimean peninsula by Russia from Ukraine. This resolution was supported by 110 countries, opposed by 11 and abstained by 58 (including India) in the 193 nation assembly.
Russia has described this resolution as counterproductive and the Russian foreign ministry has termed the resolution as an effort to complicate the internal political crisis of Ukraine.
India has clearly stated that Russia plays an important role in international issues relating to Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. India was with Brazil, China and South Africa in opposing any restrictions on the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Australia in the wake of the Crimean issue. India refrained from taking any stance even in 2008 during Russia-Georgia
military conflict and India’s silence worked for Russia at that time. Experts believe a ‘similar policy’ from India would definitely go down well with Moscow. India’s position so far, in the current political and diplomatic flashpoint in Crimea, has been lauded by Russian President Vladimir Putin, signalling continuation of the promising Indo-Russian bonhomie. Both countries are tied strongly together by a number of significant events in the past. There is the landmark Indo-Russian treaty of 1971 – an alliance which eventually was the primary contributory factor towards India winning the war with Pakistan, against heavy diplomatic odds as a result of stiff US opposition. Many also compare the Crimean accession to Russia with Sikkim’s merger with India in 1975, when it became the 22nd state of the Indian Union on 16 May, 1975 after 97.5 percent of the Sikkimese population voted in favour of merging with India; Russia consented to this, while China wasn’t too happy.
Overall, it is in India’s interest that the current crisis over Crimea settles down sooner, because it will adversely impact the country’s economy if the tension escalates. There are possibilities of international oil and gas prices going up if normalcy doesn’t return to Ukraine. This will pressurize and weaken the rupee. The FDI inflow into India may also be affected adversely. So while India is not very visibly siding with anyone party (and very rationally so), any action towards Russia which stands against the principle of the Indian Union – like arbitrarily imposed sanctions as opposed to holding diplomatic dialogue, has been vocally opposed. Although Russia hasn’t received a majority vote in the UN general assembly meeting, India’s stance against the Western sanction and staying away from the voting process has indeed strengthened the Russian case to a great extent.