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Why does Crimea matter? Black Sea Security 10 Years After the Annexation

Time and date: 18:00- 20:00, 18 March 2024

Location: INALCO, Amphithéâtre 5
65 Rue des Grands Moulins, 75013 Paris

Ten years ago, Russia's annexation of Crimea marked a turning point for Black Sea security.

With the deployment of advanced weaponry and an increased troop presence during the Crimea annexation, the peninsula transformed into a military stronghold, extending Russia’s maritime influence and posing a threat to global trade routes, freedom of navigation, and global food security. Ukrainian naval drones have destroyed a third and disabled near half of the Russian Black Sea fleet while disrupting Russian supply lines in southern Ukraine. However, Kyiv is under-armed to reclaim the territory.

  1. How has Russia's annexation and militarization of Crimea impacted the balance of power in the Black Sea region, and what are the implications for global security?
  2. Can Ukraine regain Crimea? What should be strategy going forward, considering the challenges of Western support?
  3. In what ways does Crimea's role as a Russian military stronghold affect regional maritime security, global trade routes, and global food security?

  • Hanna Shelest, Security Studies Program Director, Ukrainian Prism, Kyiv
  • Victoria Vdovychenko, Center for Defense Strategies, Kyiv
  • Tornike Gordadze, Eastern neighborhood and Black Sea program fellow at Jacques Delors Institute, Paris.
Moderator: Iryna Dmytrychyn, INALCO; Anastasiya Shapochkina, Eastern Circles

Military importance: Initial muted international response to Crimea 2014 annexation by Russia, marked by human rights violations and regional militarization, evolved after the liberation of Kherson in 2022 toward an understanding of the peninsula’s strategic importance, including for the deoccupation of the south of Ukraine.

The current strategy focuses on isolating Crimea from Russia by disrupting infrastructure and making conditions difficult for the Russian military. A large-scale military liberation is not envisioned at this stage. Making the life of the Russian army at the peninsula unbearable and diminishing Russian offensive capabilities there is.

Strategic importance: Crimea is strategically important for #Black Sea trade, regional security, military supply routes. The #CrimeanBridge serves as a crucial path for Russian military equipment, even as the rail tracks remain in disrepair since Ukraine’s successful attack in 2023. Russia's use of civilian-manned military ships for weapon delivery raises concerns.

Impact of the events in the Crimea for the #Caucasus: after #Georgia's aspirations for #NATO membership were hindered at the #Bucharest summit in 2008, Russia occupied #Abkhazia and #South Ossetia in the summer that year, enlarging Russia’s control of the Black Sea through Abkhazia ports. The experience of Russian occupation of 20% of Georgia resonates with the situation in Ukraine and highlighting the need for deoccupation efforts.

Demographic challenges: The mass relocation of Russians to Crimea in 2014 significantly altered the demographics, displacing Ukrainians and Crimean #Tatars and prohibiting the Tatar political leader to enter the peninsula. Reintegrating these diverse populations will be a complex challenge upon Crimea's potential return. Reclaiming Crimea will require careful strategies to address not only military aspects but also complex demographic and social issues.

Methods of resistance: Military resistance is led by figures like #KyryloBudanov. Non-military resistance involves activities like graffiti, posters, and movements like the Yellow Ribbon and Zla Mavka (female resistance), but is limited due to developed Russian surveillance and persecution inside Crimea.