The revolution in Ukraine gave rise to a violent resistance in Crimea, which was supported by Russia unlike to the previous one.
On 26-27 February the newly formed forces of the Crimean self-government seized the governmental buildings, the building of the Supreme Council of the autonomous republic and the building of the Council of Ministers in Simferopol. Security checkpoints were established on the Isthmus of Perekop and the Chonhar Peninsula. In the following morning the Supreme Council of the autonomous republic appointed the leader of the “Russian Unity” party as the head of the government of the autonomous republic. Later on, it announced that this action had been approved by Yanukovych. On 1 March Aksyonov exposed all the structures exercising authority, started a process of independence and made a request to V.V. Putin for uniting Russia. On the same day the Upper Legislative Chamber of Russia, the Federation Council, entitled the president to utilize the armed forces of the country in the territory of Ukraine in the case of necessity. According to the results of the referendum carried out in Crimea on 17 March, 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea declared the independence of Crimea. Shortly after the declaration, the government of the Republic of Crimea made a request to the president of the Russian Federation for becoming a member of the Federation. On the same day Putin recognized the independence of Crimea. The next day, on 18 March the declaration of union was solemnly endorsed in Kremlin. The process of accession of Crimea into Russia started, that lasted four days, being affirmed by the Federation Council on 21 March. During these four days the treaty of Crimea was prepared and signed, that was affirmed by the State Duma, the Federation Council, as well as the Constitutional court of the Russian federation. New federal subjects of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city of federal significance were established in Crimea and Sevastopol. During his speeches on 17 April and 24 October, 2014, Putin mentioned about being personally aware of “polite people” and “professional aid”, i.e. of the armed intervention. Within April Crimea was included in Russian military divisions and the made alterations were registered in the Constitution. The state border with Ukraine was secured.
One should be fully aware of the primary strategic importance Crimea has for Russia. First of all, the general navy port of the Black sea is situated there and besides the geographical location of Crimea is dominating through the whole basin of the Black sea, including Russian coasts. Huge accumulations of natural gas mines are presumed to exist in the territorial waters of Crimea. Crimea has an exceptional importance in the collective memory of Russian community.
The South-East, The Intervention and The Civil War
Parallel to the notified processes in Crimea, protests against the coup d’etat were being held in the southeastern regions of Ukraine, firstly in the days-of, thereupon every day. Protestants refused to recognize the authority that came to power in Kiev and the district governing bodies appointed by that. Instead of that the public protestants elected a regional governing body, demanding the federalization of Ukraine. On 6-7 April well organized detachments seized the governmental buildings and took possession of the arms and ammunition in Donetsk and Luhansk. On the same day the Democratic Republic of Donetsk was declared, and the referendum was appointed on 11 May. Within several hours Donetsk totally went under the control of the rebels. On the same day the acting president of Ukraine, Turchinov, announced about the commencement of an anti-terrorist operation. The special forces of Ukraine successfully took some governmental buildings back. On 8 April Ukrainian governmental forces took Kharkov back and on 10 April a regular army was formulated in the Democratic Republic of Donetsk. On 12 April the first battles took place near Sloviansk.
Within whole April the well-arranged rebellion had been going on in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. The rebellion was not spontaneous but systematized. History shows that spontaneous rebellions are always accompanied by blood-shed and are unorganized and mass in nature. None of these points occurred in the course of this rebellion. Actually, separate scanty groups were operating, that could solve problems professionally enough and without blood-shed. This states about the presence of potential systemizing headquarters.
On 17 April in Geneva the RF, the EU, the USA and Ukraine agreed on an announcement that was calling both parties to leave the occupied buildings, to let weapons down and to start negotiations. All parties were considering the crisis as the inner problem of Ukraine. The announcement did not have any grave consequences. At the beginning of May the referendums of independence took place in Donetsk and Luhansk. The results of the referendums brought to disagreements. The heads of the republics claimed that the 75% of population had taken part in the referendum held in Donetsk and the 76% in the one held in Luhansk, and that correspondingly the 89% and the 96% had voted in favour of independence. Whereas the authorities of Kiev claimed that maximum the 24% of the population in Donetsk and the 32% in Luhansk had taken part in the referendums. Basing on the results of the referendum the authorities of the self-proclaimed republics declared independence and requested for entering the RF’s membership. On its turn Russia announced about its respect towards people’s expression of will, hoping that the practical realization of the results of the referendum would be carried out without violence, in civilized environment and that the representatives of Kiev, Luhansk and Donetsk would apply all possible diplomatic relations, including OSCE to achieve it.
The referendums were followed by the tension of the situation. The first bursts of machine-gun fires started to be heard, battles were carried on mostly on the border zone between newly- proclaimed republics and Ukraine. Since May till February military operations had been taking place on the whole South-East: this was factually a war. Especially remarkable are the battles of Sloviansk, Mariupol, Donetsk, Savur-Mohyla, Ilovaisk, Kramatorsk, airports and other separate conflicts. However, the military operation called “Debaltsevo Cauldron” stands out among the others for its unyielding and bloody nature. The Ukrainian side was receiving humanitarian aid from a number of European countries and the rebellions from Russia. Ukraine was blaming Russia for its assistance to the rebellions in the form of soldiers and ammunition. Even if Russia admits that numerous volunteers from Russia had been fighting for the independence of the republics, it totally refuses the accusation of armaments and ammunition supply. However, the study shows that the rebellions owned supplies of such armaments and ammunition that could not be found in the place and the importation of those from Ukraine was not possible either. Hence, the only possible version was the importation from Russian side, which however, did not prove Russia’s involvement in the case. Ukraine and other western countries had repeatedly presented evidence on Russia’s involvement and factual intervention, but Russia had the opposite view toward all of those.
On the session held on 15 March the UN Security Council reached the “consensus -1”: no resolution was passed because of Russia’s veto. On April 1 the General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea. Eventually, a distinctness in this situation can be introduced by the International Court of Justice, whom the Ukrainian side had been trying to apply to since February-December for several issues at once: Crimea, intervention, military crimes. On February-April, 2015 quantitative decrease of military operations and some general appeasement of the situation could be observed. The most significant events of this period certainly are the Minsk treaties. So far the first tripartite Minsk resolution endorsed in September 2014 did not bring to any serious progress and the need of summoning a new meeting in a wider scope arouse. On 15 February, 2015 the composite resolution, passed in the result of new negotiations of Minsk, came into force. The declaration of truce was signed by the heads of DRD, DRL and the Normandy format (Ukraine, France, Germany, Russia). The new treaty included a plan consisting of eleven points which was intended to get to a peaceful outcome of the conflict. The following main points can be mentioned: ceasefire, release of all captives, removal of all foreign military forces from the territory of Ukraine, conducting amendments of Constitution in Ukraine, enactment of laws securing the specific status in regions of Donbas, arranging elections of local authorities, removal of heavy artilleries from the conflict zone, etc. The control of the truce accomplishment was reserved for the OSCE and the center of Russian-Ukrainian joint coordination (the reference of the document here ). The Minsk treaties were followed by stabilization of the situation and the reduction of military operations. In spite of the resolutions infringements of the truce took place again on April-May, 2015 and the situation continues to remain unstable.
The best type of protection is the attack: perhaps this principle describes the events taking place in the southeastern Ukraine. After the annexation of Crimea Russia needed a new theatre of permanent and bloody operations to distract the attention from Crimea. Besides, peace always needs compromises, and Russia could not and was not going to make any compromises in Crimea.
- Грушевский М.,. Иллюстрированная история Украины, Киев, 1995
Author: Areg Kochinyan: © All rights are reserved.
Translated by Tamara Sargsyan