In 1954, the Soviet Union passed the territory of the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine to celebrate Ukraine’s 300th year anniversary of merging with Russia. Since Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union, Crimea was still considered a part of the greater Soviet Union. The change did not cause many territorial issues at the time. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became a territory of Ukraine and not of Russia.
After the secession, ethnic Russians living in Crimea clamored for cultural and political autonomy. Also, many Tatars who had lived in the region in the past returned. These residents petitioned Ukraine for their own law and parliament. As a result, the residents of Crimea received their own autonomous republic.
After Crimea became an autonomous republic, a serious east-west conflict rose in Ukraine. The conflicts were at a peak during the presidential elections. While the candidate from the east was pro-European, the candidate from the west was pro-Russian. When the pro-European president took power, the pro-Russian faction rose in rebellion and requested support from Russia. Russia immediately sent their troops to Crimea, and Europe and the USA strongly denounced Russia’s action.
A referendum was held to decide whether Crimea belonged to Russia or Ukraine. An overwhelming majority, 96.8% of voters, chose to join Russia. Russia agreed to the result of the vote, recognizing the Crimean republic as a member of the Russian Federation. But European nations and the USA are strongly disagreeing about it. According to historical precedents, all nations integrated by force ended up degenerating into civil war. Many experts are predicting that the same will hold true in this case between Russia and the Crimean republic.