The secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its annexation by Russia in March 2014 became one of the most fundamentalchallenges to international order, a litmus test of Russian revisionism, a demonstration of Russia’s assertiveness in confront-ing the West and a test of its “red lines”.
Russia occupied Crimea against the background of a state vacuum in Ukraine and thedisorientation of the new Ukrainian leadership of the post-Maidan period – following events atthe end of 2013 – beginning of2014 that were perceived by a significant part of the Crimean population as a state coup aimed at the creation of a Ukrainianultra-nationalistic project.The self-proclaimed authorities of Crimea declared their insubordination to Kyiv and the establishment of an indepen-dent republic as a result of protests in Crimea against the ousting of the government in Kyiv in February 2014, followed by theseizure of Crimean government and parliament buildings with the backing of Russian security services and regular army unitswithout insignia. On March 16, 2014, they held a referendum where, allegedly 97% of voters voted in favor of the separationof Crimea from Ukraine.
On March 18, 2014, the Russian Federation and authorities of this self-proclaimed republic signeda treaty on the accession of Crimea into Russia. The law “On admitting the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federationand establishing of the new constituent entities of the Republic of Crimea and the city of federal status Sevastopol within theRussian Federation” was subsequently issued on March 23, 2014.From March 2014 until the end of the year, Crimea has lived through a so-called transitional period where the Ukrainianlegal regime was gradually replaced with Russian legislation, and Russian citizenship was granted on a large scale. In Sep-tember 2014 elections were held to the State Council and representative bodies of municipalities in Crimea. All political andsocial processes became subjected to the main goal of the peninsula’s integration into Russia.March’s referendum and all consequent changes in the peninsula’s political and legal status were declared as illegitimate by Ukraine and the international community. Crimea’s occupation by Russia was termed a violation of Ukraine’s sovereign-ty, the Treaty of friendship, cooperation and partnership between Ukraine and the Russia of 1997, the rules of internationallaw, and the Charter of the United Nations. Following the March 2014 developments, the UN General Assembly by an over-whelming majority adopted there solution “Territorial integrity of Ukraine” condemning the annexation of Crimea by Russia(100 votes “for”, 11 – “against”, including Russia)