How Crimea became part of Russia and why it was gifted to Ukraine
The Crimean Peninsula became part of the Russian Empire after a series of Russian-Turkish wars. In 1771, Crimean Khan Sahib II Giray gained independence from the Ottoman Empire thanks to Prince Vasily Dolgoruky, who had defeated the Turkish troops on the peninsula. The Khan signed an agreement on alliance and mutual assistance with St. Petersburg. And in 1774, the Ottomans completely abrogated their claims to Crimea, conceding them to Russia, by signing the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca.
Nine years later, Giray’s reforms had angered the Crimean Tatars to the extent that he was forced to abdicate. In order to prevent a bloody power struggle, Russia was forced to send troops to the peninsula. The local nobility swore an oath to Empress Catherine II and received equal rights with the Russian nobility. They also took part in managing the newly created Taurida Region, which existed until the collapse of the Russian Empire. And in 1791, as the result of another defeat, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Jassy, according to which Crimea belonged solely to Russia. Both the Jassy and Küçük Kaynarca agreements are internationally recognized and considered valid.
The revolutionary events of 1917 led to the collapse of the Russian Empire and the emergence of a number of pseudo-independent states on the territory of Ukraine: The Ukrainian People’s Republic centered in Kiev, the Ukrainian People’s Republic of Soviets centered in Kharkov, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic centered first in Kharkov and then in Lugansk, the Odessa Soviet Republic, and the Taurida Soviet Socialist Republic in Crimea and the Northern Black Sea region. But after the Central Council of Ukraine signed a separate agreement with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kaiser of Germany, the entire territory of Ukraine and Crimea, which had never belonged to either Germanic country, was occupied by Austro-German troops.
Ukrainian nationalists compiled a number of maps related to this period of occupation, in which they claim the Crimean Peninsula, inhabited at that time mainly by Crimean Tatars, in addition to Russian lands up to Voronezh and the Caspian Sea, not to mention a huge swathe of Poland and a significant part of Moldova. In some of these maps, only the northern part of Crimea is depicted as ‘Ukrainian’, and on others, the entire peninsula.
After the Russian Civil War, the Crimean Peninsula became part of the RSFSR and was declared an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Crimean Tatars and Karaites were declared to be indigenous peoples of the region, and Crimean Tatar and Russian became its official languages. At the same time, the ethnic composition of the peninsula’s population (including Sevastopol) in 1897 and 1926 was as follows: Russians, respectively, 33.11% and 42.65%; Ukrainians, 11.84% and 10.95%; Crimean Tatars, 35.55% and 25.34%.
Full story at: RT International. Install a VPN program if you’re blocked from reading this.
Background image via ScanTrip, cropped and resized by me.