The crisis of Crimea in 2014

The crisis of Crimea in 2014

By: Nancy  Al-Sharif


        The Russian invasion of Crimea, which took place in 2014, is one of the most important conflicts that have gained great importance in the international arena until present time. However this event did not start as a conflict with international parties, but rather it has begun with an internal revolution; in November 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announced that Ukraine would not sign an association agreement with the European Union, and this contradicted the Ukrainian people, who desperately wanted to strengthen their relationship with Europe instead of Russia, so at the end of February 2014, Yanukovych fled the country, and an alternative government came in, but this eventually led to Russia's annexation of Crimea[1].

It is possible now to say at this point, to summarize it, that the Russian invasion of Crimea began in 2014 between Russia and Ukraine in an attempt by Russia to control Crimea, which ended with Russia’s success in achieving this end and annexing Crimea to its possession.

       But it is worth pointing out to the researcher that this crisis did not start like most conflicts with conflicting roots and differences between its parties. On the contrary, this Russian invasion of Crimea was based on cooperation, and  this cooperation appeared in the exchange that took place between Russia and Ukraine for some lands, and Crimea was the basis around which such cooperation revolved, and the best evidence for this cooperative history is what happened under the Soviet Union when the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula and its naval base to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic as an administrative distribution within the Soviet Union in honor of the 300th anniversary of Ukraine’s merger with Tsarist Russia[2] ; But after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, questions began here about whether Crimea was supposed to remain under Ukrainian or Russian sovereignty[3].

      As for the current situation, there are continuous dimensions to this crisis, as Russia did not stop at this point, which it reached in 2014, from the invasion of Crimea, but rather the aggravation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as a whole in an attempt to control some strategic sites that achieve the interests of Russian Donbas located in eastern Ukraine and obtaining recognition of Russian sovereignty over the Crimea, as well as preventing European intervention in the countries that were affiliated with the Soviet Union, and also protecting the Russian language legal protection in the country[4]... and this is what some predicted before to happen, especially from the American side [5] .

Perhaps from this quick summary of the Crimean crisis, the reader has a question about the relationship of Russia and Ukraine to the Crimea??

 The answer lies here in the location of this geographical area; where Crimea is located in Eastern Europe, it is bordered by two seas, namely the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov, it is located in the southern part of Ukraine ,and also separated from Russia by the Kerch Strait .

Therefore, the researcher believes that the use of geopolitical factors and territorial disputes is most appropriate to apply to the Crimean crisis, or the so-called Russian invasion of the Crimea in 2014.

So I will here give a brief overview the geopolitical factors and territorial disputes[6]:

        From this perspective, the answer to the question of why territorial disputes can lead to armed conflicts has two dimensions:

The first dimension is a non-tangible aspect which is related to the moral sense. Each state has this aspect of dignity, the idea that I am defending my land , and I am not allowing any foreigners or any other countries to have a hand over my land… because it is my responsible, it is linked to my sense of statehood and my loyalty to my country .

The second dimension is the tangible aspect, which is related to the interests because the territories countries are conflicting over usually have significant importance, for example, these territories can be rich in certain natural resources such as gas, oil and so on. They can also be related to certain passages of rivers or water streams, also they can be in a significant location for the other countries. It is important for me to say that it is not a rule to go to war in the case of the existence of these factors, but in my case study these factors leaded to conflict as following:

       According to the first dimension which is a non – tangible aspect:

      For Russia, It is represented in Russia's belief that it is a great power and must be respected, and that it is not an ordinary country to the degree that its interests are manipulated by the United States of America and European countries. And that Ukraine is not completely free in its decision to join the European Union, especially since some cities and regions in Ukraine have a Russian cultural, political heritage[7]. As a result Russia believes that Crimea belongs to the majority of the Russians, and must be defended by Russia, as it is an integral part of its dignity and territory[8], in addition to considering Ukraine as its historical strategic partner, and that its accession to the European Union will affect the common eastern values.

As for Ukraine, it considers itself an independent country and is no longer affiliated with the Soviet Union. This era is over. It is also unacceptable for Russia to come and impose its military forces to achieve its interests on any part of its territory.

According to the second dimension which is a tangible aspect, the researcher can include many points in it:

        As for the strategic importance of Crimea to Russia; it is represented in two main factors, the first of which is the Black Sea, whose importance revolves around three aspects the first aspect is represented in the warmth of its water and that it does not freeze during most days of the year, moreover, this sea overlooks some countries of the three members of the Atlantic Alliance, such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania, and also it overlooks other three non-state countries of this alliance. The third aspect is about the importance of the Black Sea for Russia in communicating with the world as this sea is the only way for Russia to reach the Mediterranean because Russia is a closed country on the oceans, and its way to reach them is the black sea[9].The second main factor is the significant importance of the port of Sevastopol for Russia, especially for the Russian fleet, the researcher will talk about this point in detail in the section of military importance of Crimea to Russia. From this standpoint; the researcher sees that Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 because of its geographical location and its importance for Russia, and if Crimea was not important to Russia, Russia would not invade it or try to control it until now.

        As for the military importance of Crimea to Russia; In this regard, it is not possible to deny the close connection between the strategic, geographical and military importance of Crimea to Russia. This can be inferred from Russia's continued keenness on the Russian presence in the Crimea and the continued presence of its naval base in this central region, which gives it an outlet to the Mediterranean Sea. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia's fears of Ukraine's bias towards the West and the loss of its naval base in the Black Sea have increased, especially in light of the instability in Ukraine due to the anti-Russian forces in Ukraine, which were demanding an end to the presence of the Russian fleet in Crimea, so it was Russia's way to ensure the presence of its base The Navy in Crimea is the legal agreement with Ukraine and this is what actually happened because an agreement was signed with Ukraine for the year 2042. However; the coup that happened in late 2013 and early 2014 in Ukraine made Russia increasingly fearful of its naval forces; From this logic, the researcher can say that what prompted Russia to invade Crimea in 2014 was its desire to ensure a permanent presence of its fleet in the Black Sea without entering into a joint agreement with Ukraine exposed to European control, so it preferred that traditional invasion to protect its interests[10].

        As for the economic importance of Crimea for Russia; Crimea is of great economic importance as a result of the Black Sea, which is Russia’s only outlet to the Mediterranean, and this port was of special importance in the transit of Russian trade, and if Crimea joins the European Union, this, in addition to its military and strategic bad impact on Russia, has a strong negative economic impact on for it [11].In addition Crimea is full of minerals, oil, natural gas and copper, so one of the most important reasons presented by some studies is that the purpose of The European Union annexing Ukraine, including the Crimea, is also in to allow The European Union benefit from the energy resources in Crimea[12]. And also, Crimea has a special tourist significance for Russia because the existence of Yalta city, where the famous treaty between Stalin Roosevelt and Churchill was signed in Februrary1945[13], and  that returned to it with not only an economic return, but also a moral sense of belonging to it, especially since the majority of those are Russians . So the researcher can say at this point that although the strategic and military importance of Crimea for both The European Union and Russia, it has also an economic dimension as The European Union also needs its diverse resources, and Russia would not allow it to achieve it at the expense of its interests even it had to use its forces to invade Crimea.


It is possible for the researcher to conclude now, through this application, that Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 can be explained from two sides. The first is from the moral dimension and the contradictory visions of both Russia and Ukraine for each other. As for the second aspect, the causes of the conflict can be explained through the importance of the Crimean peninsula for Russia, The economy and the importance of maintaining Russia's naval base and ensuring its access to the oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, through the possibility of studying this case from this perspective, it is already considered one of the explanatory and even important factors for the Russian invasion of Crimea and even its continued desire to obtain recognition from Ukraine.


[1] Clarke, Jesse, "Crisis in Crimea: A Case Study in Geopolitics" (2019). Independent Study Project (ISP)

Collection. 3090. P.16

[2] Cosgrove, Jonathon, THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF THE CRIMEAN PENINSULA, 2014–2015: A Post–Cold War Nuclear Crisis Case Study ( Johns Hopkins: University Applied Physics Laboratory, 2014-2015 ),p. 3 .

[3]            فيرونيكا حليم فرنسيس، جيوبوليتيك السياسة الخارجية الروسية " دراسة في أثر الجيوبوليتيك في علاقة روسيا بدول الجوار " ( رسالة ماجستير، جامعة الإسكندرية، كلية الدراسات الاقتصادية والعلوم السياسية، ٢٠١٩ ) ، ص١٧١ .

[4]“ Russia’s War in Ukraine: Military and Intelligence Aspects”, Congressional Research service, April 13, 2022,

available at :   

[5] Michael Kofman, “Putin’s Wager in Russia’s Standoff with the West,” War on the Rocks, January 24, 2022,available at: ; Tara Copp, “They Could Go at Any Hour Now;’ U.S. Official Warns of Larger Russian Invasion of Ukraine,”

Defense One, February 23, 2022, available at: 

[6] Rania El Sebaei , "International Conflict" , (lecture , Cairo university , faculty of economic and political sciences , 19 April 2022) , p.3 . 

[7] Cosgrove, Jonathon, ob.cit, p.2. 

[8]، تاريخ النشر: مارس 2014، متاح على :REUTERS " علا شوقي ،"ما هي شبة جزيرة القرم و ما اهميتها ؟

[9]   . فيرونيكا حليم فرنسيس، مرجع سبق ذكره، ١٧١ 

[10]عبدالوهاب القصاب و اخرون ، " محورية الجغرافيا و التحكم في البوابة الشرقية للغرب :اوكرانيا بؤرة الصراع " ، سياسات عربية ، ع . ٩ ، يوليو  ٢٠١٤ ، ص .53.

[11]"القرم شبة جزيرة تجارية و سياحية " ، عنب بلدي ، ٩/٢٠١٨ ، متاح علي : 49


[12] Javad Keypour , "The Annexation of Crimea : A Realistic Look From The Energy Resources Perspective " , Vol.9 , N.3 , 2019 , p.161.


شبه جزيرة القرم اين تكمن اهميتها الاستراتيجية ؟ و لماذا تعتبر روسيا خطا احمر ؟ " ، الأنباء ، ٣/٢٠١٤ ، متاح علي: