Since the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, many things have changed on the peninsula. The first thing Russia has done after this action was to break the abovementioned treaty, lifting all limits on Russian presence in Crimea, and effectively take over the local Ukrainian law enforcement and military forces stationed on the peninsula.
All the Ukrainian military and law enforcement personnel was given three options – join equivalent Russian forces while keeping their rank, retire, or leave Crimea and continue to serve Ukraine. Only about 3,000 of 19,000 of the Ukrainian security personnel took the third option. Many of the soldiers and police in Crimea were ethnic Russians and didn’t mind the change. For the ethnic Ukrainians leaving Crimea would constitute hardship, as it would involve moving their whole families, and losing their real estate in Crimea. Overall, between 70% and 80% of the security personnel took the first option and switched their allegiance to Russia.
At first Russia announced it would return the captured equipment, supplies, and vehicles to Ukraine, and has returned some of it. However that process stopped on 15th April, and some of the unreturned equipment was given to the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine instead. That did not include any naval vessels and 43 of 72 Ukrainian ships were returned to Ukraine. Even though most Ukrainian security personnel remained the organizations they belonged to were usually disbanded or reorganized.
Crimea is well and truly annexed in a way Ukraine may never be.
The article above, quoted from StrategyPage, got me to thinking about peacetime life in Ukraine — not even this (mostly) low-level fighting can continue indefinitely. Eventually, changes will be made to the map, either de jure or de facto, and peace will return.
Or maybe that should be “something like peace will return.”
The eastern parts of Ukraine which Moscow craves are only mostly ethnic-Russian, and in some cases only partly so. What worked so quickly and thoroughly in Crimea, which is overwhelmingly Russian, might not work so well in the other parts of Ukraine which is far less Russified.
Without an extensive ethnic cleansing campaign, there’s a good chance that ethnic Ukrainians will continue to resist, even if brought formally under Moscow’s rule. And Vlad Putin does not want to ethnically cleanse any region of Slavs, when his goal is to bring more and more Slavs under his rule.
But if they don’t want his rule?
Then you have the former Yugoslavia writ large, only without any major outside powers able to come in to enforce a peace.
What Putin has unleashed he may never be able to contain again.