Right, so 2500 years of Crimean history in 3 minutes. What could go wrong?
The first people to live here were a group of Cimmerians called the Tauri. One of the many nomadic, pastoral, expert horse riding people of central Asia. Around 500 BC the first Greeks made their way up the Black Sea and formed the colony of (KER-SO-NAY-SOSS TAUR-ICA) Chernosesos Taurica on the southwest coast. Nowadays the city is called (Sehvas-TOE-POLE) Sevastopol…hang on to that name. 300 years later a new kingdom emerged which was eventually taken over by the Romans…then the Huns, then the Byzantines, a bunch of other folks, and then the Crimean Tatars in the middle ages. Their kingdom made up much of the northern land around the Black Sea, while their Ottoman Turk allies covered the rest. But this means Russia has no access to the water and that’s not going to work. Under Catherine the Great the whole territory was annexed in the late 1700’s, and in 1853 France and Britain aided the Ottomans in fighting back the Russians…but the region would remain in Russia’s control, and then obviously Soviet Russia until 1942 when the Nazi’s occupied it during World War II. After the war, and this was possibly done because of how much the Ukraine suffered during that time, the Soviet Premier Khrushchev gifted Crimea over to the Ukrainians. And when you think about what they went through, it’s more than just Nazi atrocities, it’s also the massacring and deportation of the Crimean Tatars and the Holodomor (hole-oh-doh-more), the systemic starvation of Ukrainians under Stalin.
So now we’re up to modern times. When Ukraine voted for independence in 1991, this meant the Russians would lose the port that harbored their critical Black Sea fleet. That port was…Sevastopol, home to the ruins of KER-SO-NAY-SOSS Chersonesos. But not to worry because the two countries signed a best friends treaty in 97 that allowed the Russians to lease the port and keep the fleet there. In return Ukraine would get a massive debt write off. The lease was actually renewed in 2010 by Yanukovych for another 25 years in return for discounts on Russian gas.
Oh and incidentally in 1994, the Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons as part of a treaty that protects its sovereignty and independence from Russia in case of invasion. And guess who are its guarantors are? That’s right, the US and UK.