Reasons why Russia invaded Ukraine

07 Mar

The geo-strategic reasons of Russia to invade Crimea

By Tania Navarro

The peninsula of Crimea in southern Ukraine is at the center of what is being seen as the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the conflict in 2008, with Georgia.  That war ended in humiliation for Georgians had no how to defend against a Russian attack. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were recognized by this Eurasian country as separate states and, today both territories are regarded Russian protectorates.

West, on that occasion, could not do anything. They look out for of the corner of their eyes as a simple spectator. George W. Bush made a mobilization to the Mediterranean Sea but the drama did no further consequences. However, what happens in Crimea is something completely different by various factors. Europe is not prepared to tolerate the conflict escalation because that it would not turn out alright for European borders where there are still many separatist groups nor it would yield nothing good for the economic situation of the European Union.

Crimea is larger than South Ossetia, it is the equivalent of the territory of Belgium, it is bigger than Georgia, and various ethnic groups for centuries have inhabited this peninsula, making it naturally unstable. Nowadays, the population is severely divided by recent historical events and Russian intervention represents a higher risk for regional stability.

Demonstrations that overthrew a government

Since last year there were demonstrations in Ukraine. A few weeks ago, they became massive and violent, raising the tension and causing the collapse of the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovich, who had recently  signed with opposition leaders  an EU brokered agreement on ending the political crisis in the country.

This actor seems to be closest to the Kremlin. First, by the treaty adopted in 2010 where Ukraine sign over the several rights to Russia in Crimea, and second, because in a sent letter to Putin, that was quoted in the third emergency meeting of the UN Security Council by the Russian Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, the ousted president requests to Putin, the use military force in Ukraine to restore law and order.

Yanukovich is not considered overthrown, he said the legitimate President of Ukraine and he has vowed to continue fighting for the future of their country. Hereof, Russian government  have used stating that the dispatch of troops was requested “to defend the Ukrainian people”, when the reasons for weight are other.

The importance of Crimea

Crimea is an autonomous republic within Ukraine and elects its own   parliament. In 1995, it has eliminated the position of president, since a separatist pro-Russian had won the election.

The ethnic groups that stand out are the Tatars and the Russians. For this reason, the recent tensions that if living in this region in the north of the Black Sea, are the result of centuries of deep divisions along ethnic, religious and political mainly between these two.

On the one hand, the Crimean Tatars, an ethnic group of origin Semirechye Muslim who originally resided in the peninsula but was deported in mass by Stalin in 1944 , by his alleged collaboration with the Nazi invaders. This group, with the collapse of the USSR in 1991, began to return to their mother earth causing persistent tensions with the Russians. On the other hand there is the population of Russian origin who just sat there, despite the fact that in 1954, the then Soviet Union ceded control of the territory to Ukraine. In addition the military bases of the Eurasian giant on this peninsula, have also allowed the establishment of a population pro-russian.

In Crimea, there are cities that are more Russian that Ukrainian, as is the case of Sevastopol which is the home of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, military base that continues to belong to Moscow despite the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Tatars are supporting the new interim government of Ukraine; the Russians were opposed to the politicians of Kiev, whom they regard as fascists.”

The area is very important because it is the path of global trade and pipelines carrying oil and gas from East to West. Historically, Russia has controlled Crimea from the XVIII century, exactly since 1783; have been more than 200 years in this country had in one way or another the control. The fact, that Nikita Khrushchev has transferred Crimea, is considered a historic mistake by various geopolitical reasons, since the ports in this area are those who allow the Russians to deploy ships to the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1994, Russia undertook to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine in a memorandum of understanding signed with the United States, Great Britain and France, in exchange for this renounce nuclear weapons inherited from the USSR. In 1995, the then president Boris Yeltsin, achieved through an agreement with the Ukrainian government then leaving the bulk of their ships, landing troops and aviation of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

Now Crimea, is the center of a storm that could lead to a clear intention separatist, supported by the Russians, who under the argue to defend its people and national interests have sent more troops to the area.

The port of Sevastopol 

The Russian military presence in this place is totally normal, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the city remained under Russian sovereignty, while the rest of the peninsula of Crimea became part of Ukraine as an autonomous republic.

In 1997, Russia and Ukraine, signed a treaty by this naval base, and by the that Kiev was giving way to Moscow three bays for a period of 20 years with an annual cost of $100 million, which would be deducted from the Ukrainian debt with the Russian Federation.

Already in 2010, Ukraine has renegotiated the agreement with Russia that lasted until 2042 the lease of the military zone of the port in exchange for a substantial reduction, 30 %, in the price of Russian gas over the next 10 years, the equivalent of $40.000 million. In addition, this agreement enables the Russians have up to 161 aircraft in the air bases of Kacha and Gvardeyskaya, 388 warships and other vessels on Ukrainian waters, and up to 25000 soldiers in the ports of Sevastopol and Fedosia.

The agreement also stable Russian personnel must not remove or meter military equipment or vehicles outside the area of the base without the permission of Ukraine. Hence, the anger and violation of the Ukrainian sovereignty when the Russian parliament approved sending 6000 troops to the region. Obviously, in the first instance the Ukrainian government interpreted the action as a declaration of war.

All this suggests that Russia does not seek control of the area, and she had. We were just spectators of the deployment of the military infrastructure to which the local Ukrainian force, relatively, can do nothing, and so make it clear where to look at the interests of Ukraine.

The geostrategic matter of Crimea

This is not the first time that presents a conflict in this area, Sevastopol has already witnessed a war between 1853 and 1856. That conflict was raised between Russia, the Ottoman Empire and the western powers represented by France and Great Britain; the tsarist Russia was militarily defeated.

There are many reasons that the West, mainly to Europe is concerned about what happens in the Crimea. One of them is that 80 % of Russian gas exports to Europe, goes through the Ukraine; and 40% of the gas that is imported into Europe comes from Russia. In the event of a military escalation, the Europeans would be exposed to a crisis of hydrocarbons.

The current Russian incursion in the Crimea, could only be threatened by with the West with the promise of political and economic isolation. For the moment, the great Russian nation has been expelled from the G8.

You must understand that nor Russia can allow demonstrations escalate, it is not good to their national interests, the ports in the Crimea are its output to the Mediterranean sea. Nor does it favors neither want Ukraine to attain a democratic government.

The solution lies in…

The former Ukrainian government waste the money, it was a very bad management that fell in the demonstrations now views. Any solution that can be given to this country by necessity requires include financial institutions and to the West. Ukraine is on its way to the economic debacle and requires external financing.

Gazprom announced that Ukraine owes US$1.500 million by gas, the company warned that the European country  could not keep the discount it has enjoyed in the imports of Russian gas to less to pay his debt.

Russia in spite of the imperial nostalgia, cannot afford to encourage the separatist nationalism in Crimea. The West on the other hand, not being able to continue to allow Vladimir Putin do what he pleases without consequences, because now is Crimea, and then you’ll want to something more.

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Publicado por en marzo 7, 2014 en relaciones internacionales


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