The Crimean Conundrum

Abigail Yip and Madison Waford

For almost half a year now, the diamond-shaped peninsula south of the Ukraine has been embroiled in turmoil. The whole snafu was the result of President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement that would have allowed the Ukraine to join the European Union, with all its perks of collective security and debatable pecuniary strength. The resulting protests alarmed resident strongman Vladimir Putin, who was worried that a western-aligned nation on his border would threaten his regime with an influx of democratic ideals. After all, Russia has long regarded Ukraine as a strategic buffer against the central European powers. To stem this potential threat, Putin began to stir up trouble in the Crimea, a region historically associated with Russia since the reign of Peter the Great in the early 1700s.  By appealing to the large population of ethnic Russians living there and ostensibly to protect naval interests in the great port of Sevastopol, Putin surreptitiously backed separatist rebels in the peninsula with arms and cash, later escalating the crisis by providing (unmarked) troops as well.

As of now, Russia has also made grand gestures in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, another historic frontier of old Russia. A ceasefire recently brokered has yet to assuage tensions, and world leaders, including U.S. president Barack Obama, Putin himself, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, are still working to somehow ameliorate tensions.

“I don’t agree with the war. Down with Russia!” exclaimed WJHS Senior Joanna Cumbie rather adamantly.

“Russia is using Ukrainian Russians…as an excuse to invade…,” opines another WJHS Senior, who feels that the methods employed by Putin are unjustified.

Another student believes Russia has no right to intervene, while also drawing attention to the plight of Ukrainian orphans who have had their adoption process hindered by the conflict, an aspect of the crisis quite often overlooked.

However, others feel that the barbs flung at Russia’s conduct are a bit much.

“The region has had a long historical connection with Russia. Only an arbitrary decision by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 led to its administration by Ukraine. Although Putin’s justifications are ethically wrong and inapplicable in the modern world, you can’t deny the fact that a large percentage of the population would like a return to the Motherland…From the Russian point-of-view, Putin has played a brilliant diplomatic game and in the process revealed glaring weaknesses in NATO, the EU, and the U.S.”

However, the Junior continues by saying that in the long run, Putin has probably boxed himself in by reversing prior efforts to thaw relations with the former Warsaw Bloc countries.

The Crimean crisis has no end in sight, and joins the list of other diplomatic enigmas such as the Palestinian conflict, the Kashmir dispute, and the Syrian Civil War. Meanwhile, the humanitarian catastrophe continues to spiral downward as thousands of Ukrainians are killed or displaced.

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