Since 21 March 2014, Crimea is a part of Russian Federation: administratively two entities, the Republic of Crimea (22th republic of the Russian Federation) and the city of Sevastopol. So the status of Crimea is juridically clear and simple: it’s Russia.

The authorities in Kiev, as well as many foreign governments, refuse to recognize the annexation of Crimea and insist that the peninsula return to within Ukraine’s borders. But there is no turning back. Anyone who believes the Kremlin will relinquish its claim on Crimea because of a blockade, or that a majority of Crimeans will peacefully agree to return to being Ukrainian citizens is delusional or a demagogue. Crimea is a crown jewel that Russia will guard at all costs. The peninsula will leave Moscow’s control only if the Russian Federation itself falls apart.

Sooner or later, Ukraine and the international community need to come to terms with the facts. Crimea is a special case historically, geographically and politically. It is more than just a territory for Russia. It is part of a myth, a source of identity, a place that was once known as “the garden of the empire.” Understanding that Crimea’s return is a nonnegotiable issue for Moscow, and accepting that politics is the art of the possible, opening international talks on the recognition of Crimea’s de facto Russian status may be the only realistic solution.

This may prove the most productive way to have Moscow fully cooperate on much thornier issues, like eastern Ukraine, and free Kiev to focus more fully on internal reforms. It could also lead to opening up the peninsula to the world (including monitoring organizations) and negotiating with the Russian government toward a strict and detailed road map for safeguarding the cultural and political rights of local minorities. Leaving the situation to fester in the darkness for another 10 or 20 years, turning Crimea into another Cuba, would not benefit anyone, Ukrainians, Russians, or least of all, Crimeans themselves.

Media Reporting

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and joined the Russian Federation after an overwhelming majority of the population (some 97 per cent of the 80 per cent who voted) approved the measure in a referendum on March 16, 2014. Western governments and mainstream media have always presented the Crimea secession vote as a case of “annexation” by Russia. This was never a case of accurate news reporting and objective analysis. Accordingly, little factual information has been published in the West about the aspirations of the Crimean people and the media has largely censored reporting about the numerous polls of the people of Crimea taken since 2014. Polls show consistently that an overwhelming majority of Crimeans, including those of Ukrainian and Tatar ethnicity are satisfied with the decision to secede from Ukraine. One of the few published polls which has specifically sought out Tatar respondents, in early 2015, showed 50 per cent of Tatar respondents happy with the secession, 30 per cent opposed, and 20 per cent not knowing one way or the other. Tatar political and social organizations in Crimea vigorously challenge the false claims that the disgruntled or hostile Tatar minority speaks for all Crimean Tatars.

Another conspicuous result of Crimea’s transition to Russian jurisdiction is also telling: it turns out that, contrary to Western media reporting, there are no conflicts between the Russian and Ukrainian populations in their shared home. There no enmity, no tensions between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples and no reason to fight each other . Three state languages are officially recognized in the republic: Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar. And Muslim mosques peacefully coexist with Russian Orthodox churches. 

The EU Non-Recognition Policy

As part of the EU’s non-recognition policy of what it considers to be the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, the EU has imposed substantial restrictions on economic exchanges with the territory. These include:

  1. A ban on import of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol unless they have Ukrainian certificates;
  2. A prohibition to invest in Crimea. Europeans and EU-based companies can no longer buy real estate or entities in Crimea, finance Crimean companies or supply related services. In addition, they may not invest in infrastructure projects in the following sectors: transport; telecommunications; energy and the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources.
  3. A ban on providing tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol. European cruise ships may not call on the following ports in the Crimean peninsula, except in case of emergency: Sevastopol, Kerch, Yalta, Theodosia, Evpatoria, Chenomorsk and Kamysh-Burin. This applies to all ships owned or controlled by a European or flying the flag of an EU Membe State;
  4. In addition, European operators are -irrespective of the type of ship- banned from making any payments to the Port Authority of Kerch and the Port Authority of Sevastopol. This provision is part of the EU’s restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine;
  5. Goods and technology for the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or the exploration of oil, gas and mineral resources may not be exported to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea;
  6. Technical assistance, brokering, construction or engineering services related to infrastructure in the same sectors must not be provided.
  7. Residents of Crimea and Sevastopol who wish to travel to the Schengen area should in principle obtain their visas at Schengen consulates located in Ukraine.
  8. Crimean public entities are excluded from participation in EU programmes that Ukraine has joined, such as Creative Europe (the EU programme for support for the cultural and creative sectors) and Horizon 2020 (the biggest ever EU Research and innovation programme). Crimean entities are not eligible to participate in Erasmus+ (the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport). These limitations pertain to entities, not to people. Crimean students, who undertake studies in the EU, are still eligible for Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree scholarships.
  9. The Commission and Member States have in principle suspended all projects in Crimea, with the exception of a few small-scale projects and exchanges aimed at improving people-to-people contacts.
  10. The EU has officially notified Russia that it considers bilateral agreements between the EU and the Russian Federation to be applicable only to the internationally recognized territory of Russia, and thus not to Crimea and Sevastopol.
  11. Whenever, Russia refers to Crimea and Sevastopol as part of the Russian Federation in multilateral for a, such as the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and WTO, the EU makes a statement in response that it does not recognize the illegal annexation.

Background Information

The Republic of Crimea is a federal subject of Russia that is located on the Crimean Peninsula. The capital city and largest city within the Republic is Simferopol, which is also the second largest city of Crimea, behind the federal city of Sevastopol. At the last census (2014), the Republic had a population of 1,891,465.

The Constitution of the Republic of Crimea states that the the Republic of Crimea is a democratic, legal state within the Russian Federation and an equal subject of the Russian Federation. The source of power in the Crimean Republic is its people, which is part of the multinational people of the Russian Federation. It is noted that the supreme direct manifestation of the power of the people is referendum and free elections, seizure of power and appropriation of power authorization is unacceptable. In July 2016 Crimea ceased to be a separate federal district of Russian Federation and was included into the Southern Federal District instead.

Government and Politics

The State Council of Crimea is a legislative body with a 75-seat parliament.The executive power is represented by the Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister (officially called Head of the Republic). The authority and operation of the State Council and the Council of Ministers of Crimea are determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and other Crimean laws, as well as by regular decisions carried out by the Council. Justice is administered by courts, as part of the judiciary of Russia.

The Republic of Crimea is subdivided into 25 regions: 14 districts and 11 city municipalities , officially known as territories governed by city councils


According to the 2014 Crimean Federal District Census, the ethnic makeup of the population of the whole Crimean peninsula at the time comprised the following self-reported groups:

  • Russians:1,188,978 (65.2%),
  • Ukrainians: 291,603 (16.0%),
  • Crimean Tatars: 229,526 (12.6%),
  • Tatars: 42,254 (2.3%),
  • Belarusians: 17,919 (1.0%),
  • Armenians: 9,634 (0.5%),

According to the 2014 census, 84% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language; 7.9% – Crimean Tatar,; 3.7% – Tatar; and 3.3% – Ukrainian.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, the official  languages of the Republic of Crimea are Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.


Crimean GDP is estimated at over US$ 4 billion.The Peninsula economy is based on agriculture (wines, fruits, wheat, rice and further crops), fishing, pearls, mining and natural resources (mainly iron, titanium, aluminium, manganese, calcite, sandstone, quartz and silicates, amethyst, other), metallurgical and steel industry, shipbuilding and repair, oil gas and petrochemical, chemical industry, electronics and devices machinery, instruments making, glass, electronics and electric parts devices, materials and building .

Tourism is the mainstay of the Crimean economy. In 2015 2.02 million tourist visited Crimea and in 2016 more than 4 million tourists vacationed in the Peninsula.

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