Today marks the 583ed day since conflict was ‘officially’ declared in the former Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, now known as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea according to the Russian Federation. Even though it has been over nineteen months since the conflict broke out and subsequently ‘ended’ with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, tensions remain high within the peninsula and across the globe. Recently, blockades have been set by local Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group of around two hundred-fifty thousand that live in the region, to block traffic and the flow of goods/aid form entering the province. The move that blocked three highways was a “demonstration for Russia that Crimean Tatars will not give up on Ukraine“. With nearly 6,000 tons of food passing through these highways form the Ukrainian mainland, many of which contain food, these shipments may be considered crucial to some within Crimea. Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov however stated that “…the blockade will lack impact because the peninsula gets less than 5% of its supplies from Ukraine“. Though Prime Minister Aksyonov may be downplaying the blockades message and efforts, violence in the region is diminishing with help form a cease-fire agreement between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists. This conflict, along with many small others will surely be a topic of discussion as leaders meet this week at the UN General Assembly.
With the UN General Assembly meeting this week in New York, its imperative to mention the vote put into place last year involving the Crimean conflict. After the 24 day conflict, the Russian Federation annexed the peninsula with 97% of those that voted in Crimea approving the measure. The UN however sided with the Ukraine in a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions stating “...the peninsula’s annexation by Russia has no validity“. With a overwhelming majority of the worlds nations, baring the abstaining nations, coming to Ukraine’s defense, some wonder why Russia will not relinquish the peninsula to its pervious government. From issues we’ve discussed in class, we can view Russia as a ‘rational’ actor in terms of it’s policies. After the annexation, President Vlaidmir Putin was quoted with saying the actions of his country were “…that Russia should protect the interests of Russians and members of other ethnic groups living in Crimea“. Through International Relations theory, we can conclude that the actions taken by President Putin and his military were to their circumstances justified as a sort of self-preservation or putting the survival of their nation first by means of protecting its people as well as claiming territory. The legitimacy of these actions has yet to be recognized by individuals as well as the international community and in some cases can come to influence further conflicts involving Russia such as the conflict in Syria, as well as various supposed cyber and political spats involving nations such as the Unites States, Germany, and China.
There is no denying Russia’s power in terms of politics, military, or economy (which has taken a dip recently). All power, however has to remain in check and without proper legal and international response to such conflicts, weather it be in favor or in opposition to Russia’s advancements, it must be addressed.