Will Russia manage to keep control over Crimea?


At the end of February 2014, Russia occupied the Crimean Peninsula, which was part of Ukraine, and on March 16, 2014, it tried to legitimize the military seizure through a staged referendum, cynically held at Kalashnikov’s gunpoint. As it became known later thanks to information leaks from the Kremlin, only about a third of the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea supported the join of the peninsula to Russia, and only in the city of Sevastopol, where a large military base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet was located, the number of voters for the change of jurisdiction reached 50%. However, Moscow gave the order to falsify the results of the referendum, which was completely controlled by it, and drew such figures as it deemed necessary. 
There was no limit to the jubilation of the Kremlin and 86% of the citizens of the Russian Federation: for the first time on the European continent after 1945, Russia grossly violated the principle of the inviolability of the borders established after the end of World War II. Considering the fact that during the military capture of the peninsula “only three” citizens of Ukraine were killed, Moscow cynically declared the occupation of Crimea “a brilliant bloodless special operation” reflecting the interests of the citizens of the Russian Federation. At the same time, V.Putin and the authoritarian, expansionist regime he created, naturally, did not take into account the rights and interests of the citizens of Ukraine, as well as the internationally fixed borders of the Ukrainian state.
Moreover, according to the so-called Budapest Memorandum (signed after Ukraine renounced nuclear weapons inherited from the USSR), Russia pledged to be the guarantor of Ukraine’s sovereignty and inviolability of its borders. For 23 years (after the collapse of the USSR in 1991) Moscow has not stated any territorial claims to Kyiv, however, when the Russian economy entered a state of recession in 2013, and V.Putin’s rating began to plummet, the Kremlin decided to arrange “small victorious war”.
Seven years have passed since Russia reshaped internationally recognized borders and mass hysteria in Russian society under the name of “Crimean Spring”, however, Moscow has not been able to take full advantage of the successful theft of the peninsula. During these 7 years, branches of not only foreign, but also Russian banks have not functioned in Crimea, and ATMs have not worked. Financial institutions are in fear of international sanctions. The cooperation of Crimean firms with foreign partners has been suspended. There is no foreign investment. Even the business delegations of individual countries that Russia managed to lure into Crimea – China, Nicaragua, Syria – are in no hurry to invest in the peninsula, which is under restrictions. Foreign vessels do not enter the Crimean seaports – all cargo flows are stopped. Airfields serve only domestic flights. In general, today’s Crimea has turned into a highly unprofitable territory, surviving exclusively on subsidies from the Russian state budget.
Developed countries avoid cooperation with the Crimean structures and do not recognize the territorial affiliation of the peninsula to the Russian neo-empire, but it is extremely difficult for Ukraine to restore its jurisdiction over the occupied peninsula, which has also been turned by Russia into an impregnable fortress in recent years, stuffed with various weapons systems, including tactical nuclear weapons.
In order to actualize the Crimean issue in the international arena, Kyiv invited all civilized states to take part in the work of a special multilateral consultative format “Crimean Platform”. The inaugural summit of the “Crimean Platform” is scheduled for August 23, 2021, its purpose is to inform the world community about the real political, socio-economic, ethno-confessional and environmental problems of the occupied Crimea, since Moscow stubbornly does not allow monitoring groups from the UN and the OSCE to enter the peninsula.
Being aware of the potential level of international influence of the Ukraine-initiated forum addressing the problem of the occupied Crimea, Russia resorted to information and propaganda actions pursuing yet another attempt to legitimize Crimea’s membership in the Russian Federation and to discredit Kyiv’s efforts to de-occupy the peninsula.
The toolkit of the Russian Federation is well known – this is the use of such organizations as The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, commonly known as Rossotrudnichestvo, Institute of CIS Countries, Friends of Crimea International Association, International Association of Ancient Cities, International Association of Byzantium Cities, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russian International Affairs Council, and Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad. All these and other organizations are well-oiled mechanisms that effectively disseminate propaganda and fakes originating from the Kremlin.
For example, the Institute of CIS countries and the Institute of CIS countries in Sevastopol (de jure NGOs though de facto financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation) decided to hold on July 27, 2021, a scientific conference “Crimean reality of Russia vs “Crimean mythology” of Ukraine”. The genuine purpose of this purely propaganda event is justification at the international level, primarily in the eyes of the worldwide Russian-speaking community, of the occupation of Crimea and the deplorable situation on the peninsula, including the persecution of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, the prohibition of a number of religious organizations (Muslim, Catholic and Protestant), sharp worsening of economic situation, power supply shortages, lack of water resources for industry and the international isolation of the peninsula as a whole.
The organizers of the conference lay on the line that the decision to hold the conference urgently was caused by the race against the convocation of the Crimean Platform by Kyiv. Parliamentarians, scientists, experts from Russia and its allies – post-Soviet states, corrupt politicians, fringe politicians and “useful idiots” from Western countries were invited. Using the resources of these organizations, the Russian Federation expects to widely disseminate (primarily among the Russian-speaking audience of the European countries) the materials of its conference in order to neutralize the expected political effect from the launch of the Crimean Platform.
Naturally, the occupying state realises that holding one scientific conference is not enough. Russia is trying to downgrade the importance of the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform in various ways. For example, the Russian Foreign Ministry holds talks with the ambassadors of all the countries that, hypothetically, could take part in a summit convened by Ukraine, but still having close trade, economic, financial or military-technical ties with Russia. As you might guess, Moscow threatens such states to stop the supply of raw materials or weapons, to withdraw their investments and assets, to change their focus to other markets, to refuse to roll over bilateral agreements, etc. Naturally, not half of the countries can afford to ignore the Kremlin’s threats.
Well, at least a few dozen countries will definitely take part in the Crimean Platform summit to record once again the fact of the theft of the Crimean peninsula by Russia. The world’s flagship media will carefully cover the meeting within the Crimean Platform, which, possibly, will strengthen the hope for justice among the citizens of Ukraine, both on the mainland and on the temporarily occupied peninsula. However, no one knows whether its de-occupation is a matter of near future or Russia will be able to keep the stolen Crimea for a long time.

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