The Crimea Crisis and International Concern
The Crimea crisis has sparked international concern over the fate of eastern Ukraine. Russia's annexation of Crimea and its military actions in the region have raised international concerns. The EU and NATO have condemned the actions of Russia. In the wake of the crisis, the EU is considering sanctions against Russia.
Russia's Annexation of Crimea
The response to Russia's annexation of Crimean Peninsula is divided. Some commentators argue that Russia had no choice but to act in response to events in Ukraine, and that the annexation was necessary for its own security. Others describe the annexation as a "reconquest," an attempt to secure a base for its Black Sea Fleet, or a means to protect the Russian population in the peninsula.
The Euphoria and Challenges of Annexation
The annexation of Crimea has created a euphoria in the Russian society. However, there are a number of problems. For one, the Crimean Peninsula is largely dependent on Ukraine for transportation, tourism, and its financial system. As a result, Russia will have to take over the region's infrastructure and property. This is unlikely to be a welcome prospect for the new authorities.
Historical Claims and Cultural Connections
Critics of Russia's annexation of Crimean territory also point out that Russia has had claims to the region since 1783. In fact, the Crimean Khanate was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. However, the Crimean Tatars were expelled from the peninsula under Stalin's regime. Since then, many Crimean Tatars have returned home. In addition, Russia's literary works have firmly anchored the Crimea in the Russian cultural mind. They are more accessible to Russian readers than Crimean Tatar literature.
China's Response to the Annexation
China's response to the Crimea crisis has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, it appears to have viewed the crisis negatively, citing the conflict as a disruption to global economic flows. On the other hand, it has a history of interacting with Russia through trade, and may be tempted to sidestep Western sanctions in order to support Russia's interests in the region.
China's Support and Call for Restraint
In response to the Crimea crisis, China has offered its support for Russia's legitimate security concerns, while also calling for restraint and negotiations. This is not a new tactic; China has taken the same approach when the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, calling for calm after news of the attacks sent markets tumbling. However, the response of Beijing and Moscow to the crisis has been more symbolic than practical.
Wary of Moscow's Intentions
On the other hand, Beijing is likely to remain wary of Moscow's intentions, while simultaneously avoiding antagonising the EU and Taiwan. A heavier response to the conflict could potentially spark a European backlash. Regardless, Beijing and the Chinese community are closely following this crisis.
EU's Concern over Russia's Actions
While public debate has depicted the EU as weak and divided, a recent poll shows that the majority of European voters support defending Ukraine from Russian aggression. In a pan-European poll conducted in late January 2022, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that the EU should back Ukraine and should not give in to Russian pressure.
Possible Sanctions and EU Unity
EU foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to sanction Russia based on its recognition of breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Foreign secretary Didier Reynders said that the EU is ready to implement new sanctions against Russia but that it would take unanimous agreement of member states before imposing sanctions.
The Gamble for Putin and Uncertain Consequences
It has been clear that Putin is taking a gamble with this war. A war with Ukraine would be costly for Russia. It would also increase the likelihood that the Ukraine government would orient itself towards the West, which would make the post-Putin situation more likely. However, it is unclear when this will occur.
NATO's Response to Annexation
As Ukraine and Russia struggle with the consequences of Russia's annexation of Crimean peninsula, NATO has called for a comprehensive response to the situation. The alliance has suspended military and civilian co-operation with Russia and has ordered military planners to increase their defenses and reassure eastern European countries. The 28-nation alliance is also meeting for the first time since Russia's intervention in Crimea, which triggered the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the Cold War. The NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that "business as usual" will not be possible in the face of Russia's actions.
Commitment to Defense and Military Contingents
In its response to Russia's annexation, NATO members reaffirmed their commitment to the two percent goal and to the principle of collective defense. They also extended the role of the NATO Response Force and established the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to respond to a contingency on the eastern flank within five days. As part of the response, the allies pledged to send battalion-sized military contingents to the eastern flank, including the Baltics and Poland.