An Interesting Map and the Brief History of Crimea
How countries viewed Crimea has always been an important issue. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) published a fascinating map with a Belarusian domain on its website in March 2020 (https://cis.minsk.by/map). The map highlights and introduces us the countries when we click on them, however, interestingly, Crimea is always covered with a text box, no matter where we click. In conclusion, based on the map, we cannot determine which country Crimea belongs to.
Crimea in 1954, following Khrushchev’s proposal, was given to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic. The reason was the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, which Moscow and Ukraine concluded in 1654, creating a kind of personal union that worked for centuries. This treaty strongly determined the future of the countries, as well as bound them inseparably. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became a part of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic but remained part of Ukraine.
In 2013, the Ukrainian government led by Viktor Yanukovych withdrew from an agreement planned with the EU due to pressure from the Russian government and instead formed closer ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. This led to the Euromaidan protests when people went to the streets due to government corruption and human rights violations. The 2014 war in eastern Ukraine began with anti-government and pro-Russian protests in the eastern regions of Ukraine. The events escalated into a revolution, which (contemporarily) ended with the February 21 agreement which declared the restoration of the 2004 constitution and announced an early election. However, the Russian government declared a referendum in Crimea to measure up the interest in joining Russia, and then shortly after the (questionably valid) results came out, they annexed the Crimean Peninsula. According to analysis, Putin made the decision mostly out of fear of not being able to maintain a partly vassal relationship with Ukraine after Euromaidan, and the riots provided a perfect opportunity to acquire the territory, which was largely inhabited by a significant Russian minority. The decision was followed by many riots and chaos. The conflict has never really ended, in fact, the problem worsened with the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Belarus is located between the EU and NATO on one side and Russia on the other, therefore stating its position in problematic Russian cases has always been a big dilemma for them. Belarus relies on Russia in many ways and it seems like an increasingly close relationship. The question of Crimea will probably stay taboo and not often mentioned there.