The Crimean Crisis Is A Soft Power Versus Hard Power Conflict

2495 words - 10 pages

The Crimean Crisis is the name given to the still ongoing international conflict, mainly focused in the Crimean Peninsula, a region previously administered by Ukraine, as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This region is multi-ethnic, mainly populated by Russians. In February 2014, after the Ukrainian Revolution, the Russian troops entered the region and annexed it as the Crimean Federal District, under the control of the Russian Federation. Even though this move is not recognized by the United Nations and the resolution to the conflict is far from being determined, the crisis is still a perfect opportunity for the analysis of the use of political power. The Russian Federation is still a believer in hard power, and has its hopes in the “boots on the ground” approach. On the other hand, the United States, joined with other G8 members, except Russia, is trying to use the soft power approach and use economic power and media to find the solution for the crisis. Even though the crisis is still ongoing, it is clear that it is the conflict in which Russia is hoping that their short term hard power approach will succeed, while the United States and the rest of the G8 are hoping for a long term soft power pressure to prevail.
In order to understand the conflict, some geographical and historical background is necessary. Crimea is a peninsula situated in the Black Sea, located south of Ukraine and west of the Russian region Kuban. It is connected to Ukraine by the Isthmus of Perekop, a narrow 4 mile strip of land, and separated from the Kuban region by the Kerch Strait, a 2 mile wide strait. (Haaretz, 2014) The area of the peninsula is around 10,000 square miles and is the only autonomous region in Ukraine, with Simferopol as its capital. It is multi-ethnic, with around two million people residing within the borders of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Around sixty percent of the residents declare themselves as Russians and speak Russian. The rest of the area is populated by ethnic Ukrainians, with the exception of a group called Tatars, prevalently Muslim, whose numbers run around three hundred thousand. (Harness, 2014)
And, while geographically the region might seem complex, historically it gets even more complicated. Back in the 1850s Crimea was absorbed into the Russian Empire by Catherine the Great, who did so after winning the Crimean war, beating the Ottoman Empire. In 1921 the area became a part of the Soviet Union, but was still mainly populated by Muslim Tatars, who were there since the times the Ottoman Empire ruled the area. Crimea stayed under control of Moscow and officially a part of Russia, within the Soviet Union, until 1954. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev decided to sign Crimea off to Ukraine. (Fletcher, 2014) At the time, this did not seem to matter too much, because Ukraine was still a part of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea stayed a part of Ukraine, as the Autonomous Republic of...

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