In recent news and occurrences, the word Crimea has become a common word exchanged between persons when talking about the foreign policy of the United States. The peninsula, to the south of mainland Ukraine, is the homeland of years of violence of political and cultural beliefs. The majority of people living there, ethnic Russians, apparently wish to leave Ukraine and become part of mainland Russia. Contrary to popular belief and the portrayal of the media, Crimea has not always been a part of Ukraine. In 1954, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Ukraine, the USSR mandated the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) to give the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian SSR (Source 1). This may sound confusing because, despite Ukrainian sovereignty being a figment of their own imagination, they were still their own separate state.
Because the natural born people of Crimea, the Tatars, were deported to the “Stans” shortly after WW2 because of their support to fascist Germany, the land was packed with ethnic Russians to help support Russia’s large Black Sea Fleet as Sevestapol. The leaders of Russia were not worried about losing support in Crimea.
So why even make this exchange if you have you’re not worried? Because Ukraine has a natural disposition to being controlled. Like we have discussed in class lately, the nation of Ukraine is strong, but the State of Ukraine has always been weak. From Mongols to Soviets, the Ukrainians have been controlled for most of their existence. The Soviets could see that the Ukrainian people were ready to break free of a controlled society early on and decided to reward them with a little spark of nationalism. Again, why do the Soviets even care about this piece of land? Because Ukraine is the agricultural powerhouse of Russia.
In the mid 1950’s Ukraine was seeing a large increase in agricultural productivity. According to the digest of Soviet Literature, “Some 142,000,000 poods more grain were delivered or sold to the state than in 1956, and more than 346,000,000 poods of the main food crop, wheat, were received.”(Source 2) Russia could not afford to cut themselves off from a supply of food this large, especially in a communist society that lacks motivation.
Russia has hung on to Crimea by a thread in the last 20 years since Ukraine has had a government with more eastern ties. But, now that it is fairly evident that Ukraine has started an irrecoverable lean towards western society, it was time to claim back what has always been theirs in the first place.
Source 1: http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1954anniver1&SubjectID=1954crimea&Year=1954
Source 2: http://dlib.eastview.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/search/simple/doc?art=16&id=13761464