The excellent Orysia Lutsevych of Chatham House tweeted this a few hours ago:
"#crimea annexation also result of total failure of Kyiv policy to integrate the peninsula with the mainland. They all failed to anchor it."
Results from a most detailed sociological research conducted on the peninsula by the Razumkov centre several years ago support Lutsevych' assertions.
E.g When co-respondents were asked in 2006 if they considered Ukraine to be their fatherland [batkivshchyna] 74% said yes. By 2008, this figure had dropped to 40.1%. The number who had difficulty replying increased from 3.8 to 27% during that same period.
When Crimeans were asked in 2009 whether Ukraine should join up to a Russian/Belarus union, 78.6% said yes.
When asked if Ukraine should enter the European Union, there were twice as many no's as yes's.
Notably, around 80% had never come across any discrimination on nationalistic lines, at work or in educational establishments, so its seems Crimea was a racially harmonious and agreeable place... [until now]...even though, according to the research, less than 3% of Crimea's population usually spoke Ukrainian at home...
Had there been a properly conducted referendum with 'stay as we are', or 'go for independence and possible reunification with Russia' options, the information provided by Razumkov in their research indicates a majority would most likely choose the latter option, but the majority would not be overwhelming...
Nevertheless, Party of Regions, which held 80 out of the 100 seats in the Crimean parliament, did not include secession in their 2010 election campaign programme. And Russia, by signing the Budapest accord, and by agreeing and paying rent for their base in Sevastopol over many years, merely continually confirmed they considered Crimea to be Ukrainian sovereign territory.
p.s. In 1940 your humble blogger's father conducted his Red Army military training in what was the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Crimea. He got to know Crimea well and always considered it to be Tatar...he often recalled the dread that filled the indigenous Tatar population at the sight of a 'ruskiy soldat'..Putin's claim that, "Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia," would not have convinced my dad, despite the large Slavic influx in the '30's.
p.p.s. Read this marvellous article from the brilliant Timothy Snyder..."Freedom in Russian exists only in Ukraine"
"Russian is a completely normal language of interchange in Ukraine. There, tens of millions of Russian-speakers read a free press, watch uncontrolled television and learn from an uncensored internet, in either Ukrainian or in Russian, as they prefer.
In Russia, the major social media have been brought under state control, television has been almost completely subdued and several of the remaining free-thinking blogs and internet news sites have been shut down or pressured. This leaves Ukraine as an island of free speech for people who use the Russian language.
There is a country where millions of Russian-speakers lack basic rights. That country is the Russian Federation. There is a neighbouring country where tens of millions of Russian-speakers enjoy basic rights — despite the disruptions of a revolution and Russian invasion. That country is Ukraine. "
Finally, I recommend this article: 'Crimea’s Sudeten Crisis', by Bobo Lo, Chatham House:
"The West should stop reacting to Putin with “shock and awe” – shock that he can act with such seeming impunity, and awe at his perceived tactical brilliance. Europe and the US have vastly greater influence and resources than Russia, with its atrophied political system and exhausted economic model. What they lack is the willingness to accept the economic and political costs of defending the values that they claim to uphold.
Western leaders must recognize that appeasement cannot ensure peace and stability in Europe – not even under the fig leaf of “engagement.” When dealing with a leader whose credo is defined by the notion that “the weak get beaten,” Western governments must demonstrate their resolve, without sacrificing flexibility. Only on this basis can the crisis in Ukraine be addressed without fundamentally compromising transatlantic security."