The Mysterious Gift

Khrushchev after turning Crimea over to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic

In February of 2014, the world was shocked on February 26, just three days after the Sochi Olympics ended, and the days following when reports began to surface that Russian troops were deployed in Crimea. Russia had poured billions of dollars into the 2014 Winter Olympics and other things in order to attempt to portray Russia in a more positive light, and now they had just invaded one of their neighboring countries ruining any progress they had made.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The People of Moscow. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1955.
Celebration of 300th anniversary of the union of Russia and Ukraine, which was followed by the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine

In 1954 on February 19, Crimea became apart of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This move surprised many because Russia has a long history with Crimea and has gone to great lengths in the past to add and keep Crimea under their control. What is even more strange is the reasoning behind the transfer, which were “the economic commonalities, territorial closeness, and communication and cultural links” between Ukraine and Crimea (Siegelbaum). The weird thing is that their economies really were not very intertwined, since Crimea relied mostly on tourism. On the other hand, Russia was economically and militarily intertwined with Crimea due to Russia’s need for a warm water port that can be used all year around, which has recently been reaffirmed through Russia’s invasion of Crimea. As for the cultural connection, the same is true in the sense that Russia had greater cultural ties to Crimea since the majority of its population in 1954 was Russian. The thought process involved in this exchange is very mysterious. It makes you wonder if Ukraine had some sort of leverage against the Russians at the time, which they used to make this transfer occur.


Siegelbaum, Lewis:

7 thoughts on “The Mysterious Gift”

  1. This was an intriguing post. I had forgotten how close to the Sochi Olympics it had been when Russian forces entered Crimea. It seems that everyone forgot about the Olympics when this occurred. You did a great job connecting the 1954 unification of Crimea to the Ukraine with the present day conflict in Crimea and Ukraine. I agree after reading your post that the unification is suspicious, maybe this will come up in class discussions, for it is an interesting topic!

  2. I liked the comparison of what happened in 2014 to the study of what happened back in 1954. I think the needs of Russia and its economy/trade and need to control the surrounding area pushed them to send troops into Crimea.

  3. I like the way you explained and analyzed today’s current events in Ukraine with the historical context of Crimea and the Soviet Union’s involvement. Russia’s contradiction of giving away Crimea and then taking it back over half a century later is difficult to comprehend.

  4. I really liked this post. The analysis of why Russia gave Crimea to Ukraine was interesting and thorough. The post was easy to read and highly intriguing.

  5. I thought your post was really interesting, particularly how you tied the current events playing out in Russia and Ukraine to the past. This is so important in history. I thought your post was well-written and went into topics I hadn’t considered before, like exactly how close the Olympics were to the invasion. I agree with above posts–I think that many people forgot about the Olympics after more serious events took place, so a reminder of that was helpful and insightful.

  6. This goes to show that historical events never occur in a vacuum. I like how you tied current events to events that occurred 60 years ago. This highlights some of the reasons behind Putin’s actions that the average news reader may not be aware of.

  7. Russia always seems to be invading somewhere whenever they host the Olympics (They hosted 1980 summer games when they were in Afghanistan). Maybe the gift of Crimea was sort of Russia saying, “Sorry about the Holodomor, here’s some pretty good land as an apology.” Maybe only Khrushchev knows for sure..

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