russia's annexation of crimea -

"We welcome the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] resolution urging Russia to uphold its obligations as an occupying power in Crimea and immediately end its violations and abuses there. Russia must free unlawfully detained Ukrainians and give unfettered access to human rights monitors. We will never accept Russia's attempted annexation of Crimea. Crimea is Ukraine," the U.S. diplomats wrote on Facebook.

Stalin accused the Tatars of collaborating with the German occupiers and deported them en masse to Central Asia and Siberia in 1944. Many did not survive.

Given autonomous republic status within Russia after the Bolshevik revolution, Crimea was occupied by the Nazis in the early 1940s.

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After Ukrainian independence, political figures from the local Russian community sought to assert sovereignty and strengthen ties with Russia through a series of moves declared unconstitutional by the Ukrainian government.

Moreover, reports have been made of military vehicles in Crimea bearing Russian license plates, military personnel sieging Crimean military bases wearing Russian military uniforms and Russian flags being raised over Ukrainian military bases that have been stormed and occupied. Putin counters that these facts do not indicate a tie to Russian state action. He quipped that “[t]here are many military uniforms. Go into any local shop and you can find one.” [8] He further insists that those who have been raising flags over Ukrainian military bases are local pro-Russian militias and that any Russian military personnel in Crimea fall within the 25,000 troops that Russia has assigned to the Peninsula per a previously-negotiated treaty with Crimea.

The international community has refused to lend credence to Putin’s claims. On the one hand, the credibility of Putin’s claims is undermined because he refuses to allow OSCE monitors to visit Crimea and assess the security situation.[9] On the other hand, his claims contradict the global media, which report multiple repeated acts of Russian military aggression in Crimea. AlJazeera reports that “Russian troops stormed the Belbek Air Base in Crimea … firing shots and stun grenades and smashing through concrete walls with armored personnel carriers.”[10] Other sources report that Russian military forces have moved into the Crimean Peninsula, shut down airports and took control of highway access points. The following is an account of the Russian occupation of Crimea provided by Esri[11] and AlJazeera[12]:

The Ukrainian Parliament approached this issue by declaring that Yanukovych “self-abdicated” (or “self-removed” himself), thus requiring Parliament to take action to fill in the power vacuum by electing an interim government.

Ukraine’s energy independence and gas diversification strategy of last August to reduce its gas dependence on Russia came unstuck following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Prior to this, the Yanukovych government had managed to decrease Ukraine’s gas imports from Russia from 45 bcm in 2011 to just 28 bcm in 2013. The original plan was to end any Russian gas imports by 2020. This was a stepping stone on the way to becoming self-sufficient by 2035 by boosting domestic conventional and unconventional gas extraction.

The Republic of Crimea, officially part of Ukraine, lies on a peninsula stretching out from the south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It is separated from Russia to the east by the narrow Kerch Strait.

Russia initially claimed military intervention in Crimea was necessary in order to protect Russian nationals from the chaos in Ukraine following Yanukovych’s ouster. Russia argued that was necessary to rescue them from targeted persecution at the hands of pro-Ukrainian extremists.

The 1996 Ukrainian constitution stipulated that Crimea would have autonomous republic status, but insisted that Crimean legislation must be in keeping with that of Ukraine.

In early 2014 Crimea became the focus of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, after Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was driven from power by violent protests in Kiev.

Perhaps Russia chose to play the “defense” card because it recognizes that self-defense is one of the two exceptions to the prohibition of the use of force under the United Nations Charter. However, the legal grounds of Russia’s position is similarly untenable. Russia’s use of armed force in another sovereign State to protect Russian nationals does not qualify for the “self-defense” exception to the use of force. Under Article 51 of the UN Charter, Russia’s right to use force in self-defense is only triggered “if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations [i.e., Russia]” (Art. 51 CUN). Even if the targeting of ethnic Russians in Crimea had occurred, such targeting does not constitute an “armed attack” against Russia for the purpose of employing the use of force against Ukraine.

A total of 64 countries backed the updated text of the resolution, 23 countries voted against it, and 86 abstained.

What is published in NATO Review does not necessarily represent the official position or policy of member governments, or of NATO.

[B]Dr. Frank Umbach[/B] is Associate Director at the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS), King's College, London; and a Senior Associate and Head of the Programme "International Energy Security" at the Centre for European Security Strategies (CESS GmbH), Munich.

11 March: Russia cancelled flights from Kiev to Crimea’s Simferopol International Airport, which was seized on February 28.

Yet even if it is established that Yanukovych remains the legitimate leader of Ukraine and that he requested Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, the Russian justification of the use of force in Crimea remains legally flawed. As stated by a partner of an international law firm’s Kiev office, “absolutely no Ukrainian President under the Ukrainian Constitution could ever unilaterally invite any foreign army into Ukraine … Any request for internal peace-keeping assistance would at a minimum require approval from Parliament.”[5] Therefore, regardless of whether Yanukovych remains the head of State, he never had the authority to authorize Russia to invade and occupy Crimean territory.

The Russian argument suffers from both factual and legal problems. On a factual level, Russia has not presented credible evidence that ethnic Russians living in Crimea have actually been targeted by pro-Ukrainian nationals. If they were targeted, one would have expected Russia to allow monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation for Europe (OSCE) to visit Crimea and assess the security situation. However, rather than allow them in, Moscow has “stopped OSCE military observers from entering Crimea.” Meanwhile, as Russia holds Crimea off limits, it encourages the OSCE to visit the rest of the Ukraine.[1]