Now, two years later, it is clear the annexation of Crimea has had only negative consequences for Russia. Crimea set off a chain reaction that gave rise to the war in eastern Ukraine (which would never had happened if not for the annexation) and, later, the military action in Syria, leaving thousands of people killed and producing hundred of thousands of refugees. Ukraine, Russia’s closest neighbor, has been made an enemy for years to come. Nobody in the world has publicly supported the annexation. In fact, most countries in the world have condemned it. Russia has been excluded from a number of international organizations and clubs, where its voice is no longer taken into account, meaning a huge blow has been dealt to the country’s image and its international status. The sanctions have greatly exacerbated the economic crisis, which has hit the quality of life in Russia hard. The number of poor people has increased, investments have decreased, and future prospects have worsened. The annexation has opened the way for the rise of hysteria and aggression and a political clampdown at home. This has had a devastating effect on culture, human relations, and human rights, and has generated all the conditions for Russia’s political self-destruction. The negative consequences are so numerous that it will be difficult to turn the situation in a positive direction. If the annexation continues, however, these negative effects will continue to grow. In terms of Russia’s interests, it was definitely a rash, mistaken, and criminal move.
Sergey Abashin is British Petroleum Professor of Migration Studies at the European University in Saint Petersburg. His most recent book is Sovetskii kishlak: Mezhdu kolonializmom i modernizatsiei [The Soviet Central Asian village: between colonialism and modernization], Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2015. Translated by the Russian Reader
EU urges more countries to impose sanctions on Russia over Crimea
Robin Emmott and Dmitry Solovyov
March 18, 2016
BRUSSELS/MOSCOW (Reuters) – The European Union called on Friday for more countries to impose sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula two years ago, but the Kremlin said Crimea was Russian land and its status non-negotiable.
In a statement issued on the anniversary of the formal absorption of Crimea into Russia, the 28-nation EU said it was very worried about Moscow’s military build-up in the region.
The EU also said it would maintain sanctions that ban European companies from investing in Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration.
“The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures,” the European Council, which represents EU governments, said in its statement. “The EU calls again on U.N. member states to consider similar non-recognition measures.”
The Kremlin responded by saying the issue of Crimea could not be “a matter of negotiations or international contacts”.
“Our position is known: this is a region of the Russian Federation. Russia has not discussed and will never discuss its regions with anyone,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a teleconference with reporters.
“In this case we should treat with respect the expression of the will of Crimean residents and the decision which was taken two years ago,” he said.
Peskov was referring to Crimea’s referendum on secession from Ukraine in March 2014, which was followed by a formal request from the local parliament to the Russian Federation to admit it as a new subject with the status of a republic.
On Friday Putin will visit the construction site of a bridge being built to Crimea across the Kerch Strait to connect the Russian mainland with the peninsula, Peskov added.
NATO and the EU are concerned by Russia’s military build-up in Crimea, which they say is part of a strategy to set up defensive zones of influence with surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-ship missiles.
As well as the EU, the United States, Japan and other major economies including Australia and Canada have also imposed sanctions on Russia over Crimea, but others including China and Brazil have avoided direct criticism of Moscow.
The 28-nation EU imposed its Crimea sanctions in July 2014 and then tightened them in December 2014, banning EU citizens from buying or financing companies in Crimea, whose annexation has prompted the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War.
After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, an armed separatist revolt erupted in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine that Kiev and its Western backers said was fueled and funded by Moscow. Russia denies the charges.