Crimea crises

Invasion of Crimea by Russia - a small peninsula on top of Black sea is in news. Here's what I've collected from around the internet that could be beneficial for students.

Red Peninsula marked 2 is Crimea.

Crimea in southern Ukraine is at the center of what is being seen as the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. Crimea has been fought over - and changed hands - many times in its history. It has both cultural and strategic importance for Russia.

The Crimean War (1853 – 1856): Russia lost to an alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire over Crimea. The war was documented extensively in news (even in India).

This Crimean war saw active participation from Florence Nightingale; the founder of modern nursing. She was known as "The Lady with the Lamp",  The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honor only.

Crimea today
Crimea changed many hands, saw many govts and finally transferred by Moscow (erstwhile USSR) to Ukraine in 1954. After disintegration of USSR, it remained with Ukraine only, even though majority of population are Russians. It has a unique political place in Ukraine, it is an autonomous republic within Ukraine, electing its own parliament, governed by the Constitution of Crimea (since 1998). The capital and administrative seat of the republic's government is the city of Simferopol, located in the center of the peninsula.

The current crises has it's roots in bad finances of Ukraine, and a tussle between EU and Russia. Ukraine had plans of integrating with EU and wanted a loan of $20 billion USD from EU - almost the level of its central bank's currency reserves, for it's Gas bills and debt repayments in 2014 alone. But EU was willing to give $0.85 billion only, that too after Ukraine signs a stand-by-agreement with IMF (which stopped loaning Kiev after it failed to implement necessary reforms in 2011).

But Russia was willing to offer $ 15 billion USD in loans (by buying Ukrainian bonds), and also offered heavy discounts on its gas prices, no strings attached.

Through out this Russia wanted Kiev to join its own customs union (often seen as modern embodiment of soviet union, which now includes Belarus and Kazakhstan) instead of signing the EU pact. Russia had already put in economic pressures on Ukraine, with customs delays and a ban on Ukrainian chocolates, somewhere in August 2013.

The Ukraine's economy is heavily dependent on Russia - these measures put a heavy pressure on their exports and finances. Russians justified the trade embargoes by saying that they are merely protecting its businesses from influx of cheap European goods through Ukraine.

Ukraine's Leaders Cancelled EU Agreement for Russia's Offer
Ukraine's leaders were forced to fall back on Russia's assistance after they failed to meet stringent conditions laid down by EU, IMF (like 40% raise in gas prices, big budget cuts). Ukraine's leaders didn't sign association agreement with EU at it's Nov 2013 Vilnius summit, which resulted in mass protest in what is now called as Euromaidan (literally Eurosquare), protesters were demanding closer European integration and resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund invested the first $3 billion of the bailout in Ukrainian two-year notes in December 2013. Ukraine scrapped a planned $2 billion bond sale in Feb 2014, according to a statement in Irish Stock Exchange, where the notes used in the bailout program are listed. Ukraine's currency Hryvnia is weakening like anything, a big record CAD and it's ratings being reduced to junk levels are putting tons of pressure on the country. Longer the crises goes on, the higher the risk of a full-blown balance of payments and sovereign debt crisis.

As on date Russian forces have entered Crimea and it needs to be seen what's going to happen there in future.

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