A Short History of Crimea and Ukraine

With the current demonization of Russia and the Russian President over their “invasion” of Crimea and the ensuing rush to conflict a little background information may support the notion that “Knowledge is power”.

Some of the oldest human remains found in Europe have been found in the area of Crimea, dating back some 35,000 years, but it was not technically a peninsula until the Black Sea was flooded around 6000 BC. In the following millennia the area was occupied in turn by the Tauri, the Greeks, the Romans, the Goths, the Huns, the Bulgars and the Khazars.

During the Byzantine period the area was occupied by the Rus, a people partially indigenous and partly Viking immigrants. In the mid-10th century a Prince of the Rus declared independence from Byzantium and his son Prince Vladimir of Kiev established the first Russian state which lasted until the Mongol invasion of Europe in the 13th century.

The Mongols occupied Russia for a couple of hundred years until the Ottoman Turks threw them out in the late 15th century. After the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in 1774 the Turks withdrew and in 1783, the entire Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire, which promptly built a major port facility to house their Black Sea fleet.

During the Crimean war, just prior to the American Civil War, major battles between the Russians and the British were fought there to possess the peninsula, yielding such literary classics as “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. During the Second World War the Russians put up such a tenacious defense, holding out for over a year including a 248 day siege of Sevastopol that the German 11th Army, tasked with capturing the peninsula, ceased to exist as a functional fighting force after the campaign. The remnants were farmed out to other units.

It wasn’t until 1954 that Soviet Premiere Khrushchev transferred Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR as an administrative measure. This move did not affect the major military and naval installations on the peninsula, which were retained under Soviet control. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine although the Russians retained their long term leases on the military facilities.

In 2014 radical forces, funded in part by sources in the west, overthrew the elected Ukrainian government in Kiev. A puppet government friendly to the west was installed and attempted to take possession of the country. This move was resisted by the eastern Ukrainians, who took up arms to defend their homes from the forces of the unelected government.

It was under these conditions that the Russians moved to protect their critical Black Sea port. They did not need to invade, they were already there in force, as they had been for over 230 years. The Russians are certainly not great guys but the story that they invaded Crimea and continue to aggressively threaten their neighbors is patently false.

In fact the Russians have been extremely tolerant of our government’s increasingly provocative actions which include establishing a missile system in Eastern Europe and massing armies from several nations along their borders, threatening an invasion. If the Russians massed armies along our southern border I am sure there would be a horrific outcry from our leaders, those same leaders who see nothing wrong with pushing the Russians to accept second class status.

War is only good for the bankers, the weapons makers and those who wish to rule by force. An informed electorate should ignore the obvious propaganda and resist the push for war. In the modern era a war between the major powers would produce no winners and could well be the end of life as we know it.

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