Should Crimea Even Belong to Ukraine? — Why I Think Crimea Should Be Autonomous
At the outset, I should be clear: Crimea belongs to Ukraine. As of now, it is illegally occupied due to Putin’s annexation in 2014.
In an ideal world, we would give Crimeans the right to decide the fate of Crimea. But we don’t live in that world. Putin is not willing to give up Crimea because its possession in Russian hands was hugely popular in Russia following the annexation.
Nonetheless, if it wasn’t for the forcible displacement of Crimean Tatars during Stalin’s reign to Central Asia (and some other historical reasons I’ll get into below), the majority of the population would not be Russian or Ukrainian.
Crimean Tatars were reduced from 98 percent of the peninsula in the 18th century to 12 percent in the 21st century.
Their history is forgotten. Here’s my hope to shed light on it once more.
As I said above — and I stress this — I firmly believe that the Crimean peninsula belongs to Ukraine. But if we were to be technical, Crimea shouldn’t belong to any Slavic nation. Instead, it belongs to Crimean Tatars who made up more than 98 percent of the population for centuries.
From Catherine the Great’s occupation to Joseph Stalin’s deportation, Crimean Tatars were slowly replaced by Slavs — primarily ethnic Russians.
And now they are a minority. But what happened — and why do both Ukrainians and Russians think the peninsula rightfully belongs to them?
A Brief History of Crimea
For the longest time, Crimea belonged to the Ottoman Empire.
It was only in 1774 when Catherine the Great defeated the Ottoman Empire which held Crimea for a few centuries, that she established what the Russians would call Novorossia (“New Russia”).
Mass migration and displacement came as a result of the treatment Tatars received. This was the direct result of the Crimean War between the Ottomans and Russians.
Between the years 1855 and 1866 anywhere from 500,000 Muslims to 900,000 Muslims left the Russian Empire, emigrating to the Ottoman Empire. From this estimate, approximately one-third came from Crimea. At the time, that…