Crimea’s parliament formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. Consequently a referendum was called and according to Ukraine’s chief electoral official, Mikhail Malyshev, the vote was nearly 97% in favour of joining the Russian Federation, with a turnout of 83%. An agreement then was signed after which Crimea has now again became part of Russia. Ukraine has been a place of strife since long. It is basically a tug-of-war between Russia and Europe, presumably for getting greater role and supremacy in the region, and Ukraine unfortunately has been bearing the brunt of this tussle since long. And now the United States has also jumped into the fray, to make things further complicated ostensibly for the people of Ukraine. The Orange Revolution in 2004, as we know, paved the way for pro-Europe Victor Yushchenko to become President of Ukraine despite colossal opposition from Russia. However he could not stay in power for long.
During his recent interview Yushchenko, who has spent much of his political life at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and incurred his wrath, said there should not be any doubt about what is going on: Putin’s Russia has been waging economic and information war on his country for years. It has now added a territorial war in seizing Crimea. Instead of reacting: “Europe has paused.” “Putin will not pause,” he said.
Russian relations with Europe and US have most of the time been at the lowest ebb however tension became higher when both Europe and US facilitated Kosovo to break away from Serbia to become an independent country. Russia had openly threatened at that time that Europe particularly had to face consequences for the division of Serbia. Moscow then encouraged breakaway states of Georgia to announce independence. Even at one stage, Russia attacked Georgia to teach her a ‘lesson’, and sending a loud and clear message to pro-Georgia countries.
Crimea was part of Russia during former Soviet Union time and in fact was given to Ukraine as a ‘gift’ by the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, soon after taking power from Stalin. Khrushchev wanted to strengthen his foothold within the communist party to be at the helm of affairs for a long time and for this he wanted to get support from the Ukraine communist leadership. Secondly Khrushchev under Stalin had served as head of the Ukraine state for over a decade therefore he thought his major support will be coming from Ukraine at difficult times therefore Ukraine must be strengthened. Now Russia has taken Crimea back as a result of referendum.
Europe is dependent on Russia in terms of energy supplies. As a matter of fact 25 per cent of European energy comes from Russia via Ukraine therefore if Ukraine destabilizes, its spillover effects are also felt in Europe as happened during the Orange Revolution when many parts of Europe went dark because of disruption of gas supplies from Russia.
The biggest threat for Europe, and particularly the United States, is that Russia is fast becoming a political and economic giant. According to a report in next three years Russian economy will reach the level where it was during the Soviet Union time. This is of course a worrying factor for the United States, whose status of being the sole super power seems to be in jeopardy. Russia has already asserted itself in Syria, where Americans had to go on the back foot, and now in Ukraine the US govt had to eat a humble pie for all its threats proved hollow and Crimea is once again part of Russia. We should not forget that even in Afghanistan Russian role cannot be overlooked.
Ukraine and Georgia are the most favorites to become members of NATO and they have full support of the US, while there are a few European countries who believe giving NATO membership to both these anti-Russian states, may further create instability in the region. On the other hand if these states become NATO members then it will be difficult for Moscow to carry out any attacks against them because then Ukraine and Georgia shall be protected by NATO since attack on any NATO member country is considered an attack on all member countries.
Summing up, the Crimea issue has given birth to new debate whether the world is again going to be divided into Russian and American blocks?