In 2017, three years-post Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukraine detailed the monetary hit they incurred as a result. According to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine the damage totaled to at least USD 100 billion. Not only did this damage the already strained relationship between the two former USSR territories, this was a very real financial assault from Russia. In class, we discussed the “in-betweenness” of Russia and the fragility of Russia’s confidence in itself as a nation, specifically an international power; Russia desires to garner international and specifically Western acceptance and respect. Ukrainian’s financial assessment called into question the legitimacy of Russia’s annexation. Therefore, Russia must find a way to rationalize its actions. As mentioned in last week’s post, Putin promised to better the life of Crimean Tatars, their Russian-speaking brothers. However, this flimsy claim was quickly disproved as many Crimean Tatars chose to preserve their Ukrainian citizenship and was only reinforced by the arrest of Crimean activists. To go beyond the supposed sentimentality motivating Russia’s annexation of Crimea, they also needed to legitimize their action through more “valid” standards.
Recently, Russia announced that while the annexation of Crimea may have cost Ukraine USD 100 billion, Crimea in fact incurred USD 23 billion in losses during the 23 years after the peninsula was “annexed” by independent Ukraine, this is a conservative estimate according to the State Duma. This USD 23 billion figure includes the USD 100 million per year Russia spent to maintain a naval base there as well as the difference between Crimea’s revenue under Russia and Ukraine. I was a bit perplexed at the inclusion of expenses for a Russian naval base because that is entirely a voluntary expense by Russia. I highly doubt Ukraine or Crimea requested their military presence, given their highly tumultuous historical relationship. This is most likely a desperate attempt to bolster the theoretical damage and therefore validate the annexation of Crimea.