By all accounts, the awful situations in Crimea shocked Khrushchev. In line with Dmitrii Polianskii, who served as head of the Communist Get together in Crimea between 1953 and 1954, Khrushchev got here to the conclusion that “Russia had paid little consideration to Crimea’s improvement” and that “Ukraine might deal with it extra concertedly.”
Khrushchev and different Soviet authorities discovered the exhausting approach that Crimea just isn’t an “island” or a “jewel,” as Russian metaphors would have it, a gorgeous however self-sufficient swath of territory. As an alternative, to achieve for an additional metaphor, Crimea is a flower whose blossom floats within the Black Sea and whose stem reaches deep into the Ukrainian steppe, into the territory round immediately’s frontline cities of Kherson, Melitopol’, and Mariupol’.
The Crimean Tatars used to discuss with this steppeland because the Özü qırları or Özü çölleri, the “Dnipro fields.” The reference to the Dnipro (or Dnieper), Ukraine’s largest river, was not decorative. The Crimean peninsula is essentially arid and heat, missing ample recent water of its personal. For hundreds of years it has thirsted for the Dnipro’s water and relied on useful resource flows from mainland Ukraine.
In February 1954, Khrushchev’s regime took motion to rejoin the blossom to its stem, asserting the formal switch of the Crimean oblast from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine. Throughout the formal Politburo proceedings, Soviet Russian politician Mikhail Tarasov justified the switch by describing Crimea in the way in which we must always perceive it immediately: as “a pure continuation of Ukraine’s southern steppe.”
Adzhubei referred to as the switch a “enterprise transaction” directed towards Crimea’s financial improvement. It produced fast dividends. In 1957, Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv oversaw the launch of what had been many years earlier merely a Russian pipedream: the development of the North Crimean Canal, which expedited flows from the Dnipro river close to Kherson to irrigate all the peninsula. Crimea’s economic system, notably its agricultural sector, improved dramatically. So did its tourism trade. Excessive-rise sanatoria for the Soviet elite popped up alongside the southern coast, driving the picture of a Soviet Shangri-La alongside the Black Sea.
Solely in later years would Ukraine’s success in growing Crimea be denigrated and mythologized as Khrushchev’s “present” of Crimea to Ukraine – or worse, as Khrushchev’s “mistake.” The switch of Crimea to Ukraine was no mistake. It was a rescue.
Connecting the dots between Crimea’s geography, historical past and scarred demography helps clarify among the trajectories of Russia’s aggression in opposition to Ukraine. It additionally illustrates the necessity for Ukraine’s absolute victory.
Putin’s 2014 annexation operation ended up disconnecting Crimea from useful resource flows from Ukraine, together with the North Crimean Canal, which nonetheless provided 85 % of recent water to the peninsula. His large self-importance bridge, stretching 12 miles over the Kerch Strait from the jap fringe of Crimea to mainland Russia, was accomplished in 2018 however couldn’t come near compensating for these losses. That’s why in February 2022 — on the very first day of the full-scale invasion — Putin’s forces used Crimea as a launchpad to tear into Ukraine’s Kherson oblast and seize management of this important water and useful resource provide. The transfer was an implicit recognition of a basic actuality: Crimea must be related to the Ukrainian mainland to thrive and even survive.
Russia’s maintain on Crimea is, subsequently tenuous. Any proposed peace settlement that codifies its occupation in alternate for a cessation of hostilities could be a ticking time bomb. The reality is that Ukraine won’t ever be steady and peaceable with a Russian-occupied Crimea, and a Russian-occupied Crimea won’t ever be resource-secure with out Ukraine.