After the staggering 95.5 percent vote to leave Ukraine in favor for Russia, held on March 16, things seemed to briefly return to normal in Crimea. The barricades were removed, and people began to return to their daily lives. Just two weeks later, however, Russia is making it known to the rest of Ukraine that it is there for the long haul.
All of the Ukrainian flags in Crimea have been removed and replaced with Russia’s national flag. In addition, the Russian military has established its presence in Crimea.
The Crimean peninsula, located on the southeastern part of Ukraine, voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia after months of intense protesting throughout Ukraine. Most of Crimea speaks Russian and considered themselves more Russian than Ukrainian, further aiding in the Crimeans’ decisions to secede.
One of the main reasons behind Crimea’s choice to secede was its lack of a connection with Ukraine, in part due to its geographic location and partly due to its history. After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Crimea became a part Ukraine.
According to a report by The New York Times, a Crimean woman summed up the feelings of most of the country perfectly when she said, “We were not asked when we combined with Ukraine. Now, they are asking us. We’re Russian and we want to live in Russia.”
Despite having succeeded in gaining control of Crimea, Russia does not seem completely satisfied. Many Ukrainians fear that now, having acquired Crimea fairly easily, Russia will attempt to take over the entire country of Ukraine. According to a report by FoxNews.com, Russia has already deployed thousands of troops in its regions near the Ukrainian border.
Many people now fear that Russia will use the issues in Eastern Ukraine as a reason to cross over into the rest of Ukraine. Soldiers without any identifying insignias on their uniforms, indicating they could be either Russian soldiers or pro-Russia militias, have stationed themselves on numerous Ukrainian military bases in Crimea, which, due to Ukraine’s refusal to acknowledge the annexation of Crimea, still house Ukrainian troops. According to an article by The Huffington Post, Russia has already begun attempts to take over parts of Ukraine clearly not in Crimea.
Just mere days after the vote passed, Russian troops were seen storming into the Ukrainian village of Strilkove, which houses a very important natural gas distribution plant. The military gave up the village but kept the plant, and workers could be seen digging trenches and building barricades to separate the village and the plant. The debate continues about who is responsible for the gas, water and electrical needs of the people of Crimea. Parts of Crimea are experiencing power outages as a result of being attached to power lines in Ukraine, according to an article from Reuters. Russia has not yet released a statement on how it plans to resolve this issue.
The only moves made by Ukraine were severe isolation of Moscow and a few meetings with members of the European Union to gain support and advice for the situation.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Fox News was used in this report.