5 January 2017
The Ukrainian government recognizes the 20th of February 2014 as the official start of the Russian temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula. Russia’s unlawful annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of Ukraine sent Putin’s approval rating soaring to 88%. Russia had regained the “Soviet Riviera,” a paradise peninsula of warm beaches and palm trees. In the time of the Soviet Union and later independent Ukraine, Crimea was a popular tourist destinations for many Ukrainians, Russians, and people from other Soviet republics. With the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the peninsula has become largely a military base as Russia continues to move military equipment and personnel into the peninsula. Tourism, on the other hand, has dropped since the start of the occupation considerably. Despite the warm embrace of the Russian people of the illegal actions of their government, most prefer to vacation in Sochi or Turkey. As the beaches stand empty, the economic damage on Crimea, which relied on the tourist season for much of its revenue, is compounded by economic sanctions imposed on both Crimea and Russia.
Ukraine has also taken punitive and protective measures regarding Crimea. Kyiv hastily assembled a border control point on the administrative border separating Crimea from the mainland. Additionally, as Al Jazeera reports, Ukraine constructed a dam on the North Crimean Canal that supplied 85% of Crimea’s water from Ukraine’s Dnieper River. The water blockade is already causing water shortages, and will cause chronic water shortages, as well as substantial damages to the economy, agriculture, and environment of Crimea. There is not enough water to sustain the growth of crops and not enough money to sustain energy-consuming desalination plants. Russian officials claim they cannot afford to divert water from mainland Russia and parts of Crimea are turning into salt marshes for lack of water.
The harsh measures imposed taken by Ukraine are justified and necessary in order to combat the unlawful occupation of Crimea and the Russian attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Crimea has always relied heavily on resources from Ukraine, including water and electricity, as well as its tourists. Ukraine needs to shut off power supply in addition to water supply, and strictly prohibit travel into the peninsula through the administrative border. Moreover. Kyiv needs to take steps to isolate Crimea in Black Sea, by partnering with other maritime countries in the region. Even though the 2014 referendum in which Crimea overwhelmingly voted to join the Russian Federation was largely falsified and manipulated, many people living in Crimea have expressed a desire to join Russia. The region is inhabited by a large percentage of ethnic Russians, and is Pro-Russia in its attitude. However, the overwhelming majority of the people living in Crimea were Ukrainian citizens. As such, punitive measures against Crimea are not targeted at the people, but the aggressor country, Russia. Russia wanted Crimea and Ukraine should not be footing the bill of the occupation. Russia needs to pay for its incursion into the private affairs of Ukraine.
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