Republic of Crimea
|Anthem: Нивы и горы твои волшебны, Родина|
Nivy i gory tvoi volshebny, Rodina (Russian)
"Your fields and mountains are magical, Motherland"
|De jure sovereignty||Ukraine|
|De facto control||Russia|
|Disputed republic of Russia|
|Annexation by Russia||18 March 2014|
|Southern Ukraine campaign||24 February 2022|
|• Body||State Council|
|• Head||Sergey Aksyonov|
|• Total||26,081 km2 (10,070 sq mi)|
|• Density||74/km2 (190/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (MSK)|
The Republic of Crimea[b] is an entity which Russia considers to be one of its federal subjects, a republic. Before its invasion and annexation by Russia in 2014, the territory was administered by Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and almost all other countries recognize it as such.
The Crimean Peninsula is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014, and established two federal subjects there, the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol, a move which was internationally unrecognized.
Its capital city is Simferopol, which is also the second-largest city of the peninsula, behind Sevastopol. As of the 2021 Russian census, the republic had a population of 1,934,630.
The origins of the Russian historical claim to Crimea, which would culminate in the 2014 annexation of the territory, date to the 18th century, when the Russian Empire, under the Empress Catherine the Great, annexed the peninsula for the first time, in April 1783. While ostensibly recognised by the Ottoman Empire in December that year, the annexation sowed tensions which ultimately contributed to the outbreak of Russo-Turkish war of 1787–1792, in which the Ottoman Empire attempted to reverse it, but to no avail: the 1792 Treaty of Jassy, which formally ended the war, reaffirmed the 1783 annexation again. From 1802, Crimea constituted a southern part of the Taurida Governorate of the Russian Empire until the collapse thereof in 1917. During the Russian Civil War (1917–1921) Crimea changed hands multiple times, being inter alia the last territory held by the White Russian government in the European part of Russia in 1920, and finally became an autonomous republic within Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) in 1921.
During World War II, in 1944, the central Soviet authorities deported the Crimean Tatars for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime; in 1945, the region was stripped of its autonomy status.
In 1954, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferred the region from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, another constituent republic of the USSR, then a highly centralised state, wherein borders between constituent republics was a technical issue of administration, despite the fact that Ukraine was a separate member of the UN. The Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to Crimea in the mid-1980s under perestroika.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, which led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine.[c] With the Black Sea Fleet based on the peninsula, worries of armed skirmishes were occasionally raised. Crimean Tatars began returning from exile and resettling in Crimea. Ukraine restored Crimea's autonomous status in 1991. Crimea's autonomous status was re-affirmed in 1996 with the ratification of Ukraine's current constitution, which designated Crimea as the "Autonomous Republic of Crimea", but also an "inseparable constituent part of Ukraine".
Main article: Republic of Crimea (1992-1995)
In January 1991 the Crimean sovereignty referendum re-established the Crimean ASSR. On 26 February 1992, the Crimean parliament renamed the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic the Republic of Crimea and subsequently declared conditional independence on 5 May 1992. That independence was never confirmed by referendum amid opposition from the government of Ukraine and on 21 September 1994 the Ukrainian Parliament renamed the Republic of Crimea as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. On 17 March 1995, the Ukrainian parliament abolished the Crimean Constitution of 1992 and all the laws and decrees contradicting those enacted by Kyiv, ending Crimea's brief existence as a post-Soviet republic.
Main article: Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Following the ratification of the May 1997 Russian–Ukrainian Friendship Treaty, the 1998 Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea designated the region as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In 2006, anti-NATO protests broke out on the peninsula. In September 2008, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko accused Russia of giving out Russian passports to the population in Crimea. On 24 August 2009, anti-Ukrainian demonstrations were held in Crimea by ethnic Russian residents. Sergei Tsekov (of the Russian Bloc and then deputy speaker of the Crimean parliament) said then that he hoped that Russia would treat Crimea the same way as it had treated South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty extended Russia's lease on naval facilities in Crimea until 2042, with optional five-year renewals.
Main article: Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
In February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ousted the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian leadership decided to "start working on returning Crimea to Russia" (i.e. envisaged the annexation of peninsula), and after a takeover of Crimea by Russian armed forces without insignias and pro-Russian separatists, the territory within weeks came under Russian effective control.
To facilitate the annexation politically, the Crimean parliament and the Sevastopol City Council announced on 6 March, in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution, a referendum on the issue of joining Russia, to be held on 16 March. The upcoming vote allowed citizens to vote on whether Crimea should apply to join Russia as a federal subject of the Russian Federation, or restore the 1992 Crimean constitution and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine. The available choices did not include keeping the status quo of Crimea and Sevastopol as they were at the time the referendum was held.
On 11 March 2014, the Crimean parliament and the Sevastopol City Council jointly issued a letter of intent to unilaterally declare independence from Ukraine in the event of a 'Yes' vote in the upcoming referendum, citing the "Kosovo precedent" in the lead part. The envisaged process was so designed to allow Russia to claim that "it did not annex Crimea from Ukraine, rather the Republic of Crimea exercised its sovereign powers in seeking a merge with Russia".
On 16 March 2014, according to the organizers of Crimean status referendum, a large majority (reported as 96.77% of the 81.36% of the population of Crimea who voted) voted in favour of independence of Crimea from Ukraine and joining Russia as a federal subject. The referendum was not recognized by most of the international community and the reported results were disputed by numerous independent observers. The BBC reported that most of the Crimean Tatars that they interviewed were boycotting the vote. Reports from the UN criticised the circumstances surrounding the referendum, especially the presence of paramilitaries, self-defence groups and unidentifiable soldiers. The European Union, Canada, Japan and the United States condemned the vote as illegal.
After the referendum, Crimean lawmakers formally voted both to secede from Ukraine and applied for their admission into Russia. The Sevastopol City Council, however, requested the port's separate admission as a federal city. On the same day Russia formally approved the draft treaty on absorption of the self-proclaimed Republic of Crimea, and on 18 March 2014 the political process of annexation was formally concluded, with the self-proclaimed independent Republic of Crimea signing a treaty of accession to the Russian Federation. The accession was granted but separately for each the former regions that composed it: one accession for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the Republic of Crimea—the same name as the short-lived self-proclaimed independent republic—and another accession for Sevastopol as a federal city. A post-annexation transition period, during which Russian authorities were to resolve the issues of integration of the new subjects "in the economic, financial, credit and legal system of the Russian Federation", was set to last until 1 January 2015.
The change of status of Crimea was only recognised internationally by a few states with most regarding the action as illegal. Ukraine refused to accept the annexation, however the Ukrainian military began to withdraw from Crimea on 19 March, and by 26 March, Russia had acquired complete military control of Crimea, so the annexation was essentially complete.
The post-annexation integration process started within days. On 24 March, the Russian ruble went into official circulation with parallel circulation of the Ukrainian hryvnia permitted until 1 January 2016, however, taxes and fees were to be paid in rubles only, and the wages of employees at budget-receiving organisations were to be paid out in rubles as well. On 29 March, the clocks in Crimea were moved forward to Moscow time.Also on 31 March, the Russian Foreign Ministry declared that foreign citizens visiting Crimea needed to apply for a visa to the Russian Federation at one of Russian diplomatic missions or its consulates.
On 3 April 2014, Moscow sent a diplomatic note to Ukraine on terminating the actions of agreements concerning the deployment of the Russian Federation's Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine. As part of the agreements, Russia used to pay the Ukrainian government $530 million annually for the base, and wrote off nearly $100 million of Kyiv's debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters. Ukraine also received a discount of $100 on each 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas imported from Russia, which was provided for by cutting export duties on the gas, money that would have gone into the Russian state budget. The Kremlin explained that because the base was no longer located in Ukraine, the discount was no longer legally justifiable. Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became part of Russia's Southern Military District.
On 11 April 2014, the parliament of Crimea approved a new constitution, with 88 out of 100 lawmakers voting in favor of its adoption. The new constitution confirms the Republic of Crimea as a democratic state within the Russian Federation and declares both territories united and inseparable. The Crimean parliament would become smaller and have 75 members instead of the current 100. According to the Kommersant newspaper, the authorities, including the State Council chair Vladimir Konstantinov, unofficially promised that certain quotas would be reserved for Crimean Tatars in various government bodies. On the same day, a new revision of the Russian Constitution was officially published, with the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol included in the list of federal subjects of the Russian Federation.
On 12 April 2014, the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, adopted at the session of the State Council on 11 April, entered into legal force. The constitution was published by the Krymskiye Izvestiya newspaper, becoming law on the publication date, the State Council of Crimea said. The Constitution consists of 10 chapters and 95 articles; its main regulations are analogous to the articles of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The text proclaims 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 constitutes to the multinational nation 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 are unacceptable.
On 1 June 2014, Crimea officially switched over to the Russian ruble as its only form of legal tender.
On 7 May 2015, Crimea switched its phone codes (Ukrainian number system) to the Russian number system.
In July 2015, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, declared that Crimea had been fully integrated into Russia, similar statements were also expressed at the Russian Security Council.
In July 2016, Crimea ceased to be a separate federal district of the Russian Federation and was included into the Southern federal district instead.
Russia has since the annexation supported large migration into Crimea, and the Office of the Federal State Statistics Service in Crimea and Sevastopol records as of 2021 since 2014 205,559 Russians have moved to Crimea. Ukrainian Ministry and Crimean Human Rights Group say the real number could unofficially be many times higher.
See also: Ministry of Crimean Affairs
On 31 March 2014, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced a series of programmes aimed at swiftly incorporating the territory into Russia's economy and infrastructure. The creation of a new Ministry of Crimean Affairs was announced too. After 2014 the Russian government invested heavily in the peninsula's infrastructure—repairing roads, modernizing hospitals and building the Crimean Bridge that links the peninsula to the Russian mainland.
In 2017 the Russian government also began modernising the Simferopol International Airport, which opened its new terminal in April 2018.
Russia provides electricity to Crimea via a cable beneath the Kerch Strait. In June 2018 there was a full electrical outage for all of Crimea, but the power grid company Rosseti reported to have fixed the outage in approximately one hour.
On 28 December 2018, Russia completed a high-tech security fence marking the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine.
Once Ukraine lost control of the territory in 2014, it shut off the water supply of the North Crimean Canal which supplies 85% of the peninsula's freshwater needs from the Dnieper river, the nation's main waterway. Development of new sources of water was undertaken, with huge difficulties, to replace closed Ukrainian sources. In 2022, Russia conquered portions of Kherson Oblast, which allowed it to unblock the North Crimean canal by force, resuming water supply into Crimea.
On 15 April 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament declared Crimea and the city of Sevastopol "occupied territories".
In 2021, Ukraine launched the Crimea Platform a diplomatic initiative aimed at protecting the rights of Crimean inhabitants and ultimately reversing the illegal annexation of Crimea.
Main article: Politics of Crimea
The State Council of Crimea is a legislative body with a 75-seat parliament. The polling held on 14 September 2014 resulted in United Russia securing 70 of the 75 members elected.
Justice is administered by courts, as part of the judiciary of Russia. Under Russian law, all decisions delivered by the Crimean branches of the judiciary of Ukraine up to its annexation remain valid. This includes sentences (for "encroaching on Ukraine's territorial integrity and inviolability") for pre-2014 calls for an incorporation of Crimea into Russia.
The executive power is represented by the Council of Ministers, headed either by the Prime Minister of Crimea or by the Head of the Republic of Crimea. 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.
Crimeans who refused to take Russian citizenship are barred from holding government positions or municipal jobs.
By July 2015, 20,000 Crimeans had renounced their Ukrainian citizenship. From the time of Russia's annexation until October 2016, more than 8,800 Crimean residents received Ukrainian passports.
On 18 September 2016, the whole of Crimea participated in the Russian legislative election.
Main article: Southern Military District
Main article: Administrative divisions of Crimea
The Republic of Crimea continues to use the administrative divisions previously used by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and is thus subdivided into 25 regions: 14 districts (raions) and 11 city municipalities (gorodskoj sovet or gorsovet), officially known as territories governed by city councils.[failed verification]
Main article: Geography of Crimea
If it were to be considered a part of Russia, then Crimea would be one of two parts of European Russia that had no land connection to the rest of the country, the other being Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic Sea. Being a semi-exclave, the peninsula is connected to Russia by a multibillion-dollar road–rail fixed link across the Kerch Strait, dubbed Crimean Bridge by the Russian government. The link is operational for road traffic since 2018, and for rail traffic since 2019 (passenger) and 2020 (freight).
If Crimea were considered separate from Ukraine, which continues to claim sovereignty over the peninsula, then Ukraine would be the only country with which it shared a land border, with a number of road and rail connections. These crossings have been under the control of Russian troops since at least mid-March 2014.
Main article: Demographics of Crimea
The best result in life expectancy the Republic of Crimea had in 2019, it reached 72.71 years. But during two years the COVID-19 pandemic the region had one of the largest summary fall in life expectancy in Russia, and in 2021 it became 69.70 years (65.31 for males and 73.96 for females)
According to the 2014 Crimean Federal District census, the ethnic makeup of the population of the whole Crimean Federal District at the time comprised the following self-reported groups:
According to the 2014 census, 84% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language; 7.9% named Crimean Tatar; 3.7% Tatar and 3.3% Ukrainian. The previous census was held more than decade ago in 2001, when Crimea was still controlled by Ukraine. The Russian occupation led to a strong decline of the ethnic Ukrainian population in the region.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea:
- 1. Official languages of the Republic of Crimea are Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.
According to the Republic of Crimea Ministry of Education, Science, and Youth, most primary and secondary school pupils have decided to study in Russian in 2015.
Its Education Minister Natalia Goncharova announced mid-August 2014 that (since no parents of first-graders wrote an application for learning Ukrainian) Crimea had decided not to form Ukrainian language classes in its primary schools. Goncharova said that since more than a quarter of parents at the Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol had written an application to teach children in Ukrainian; this school might have Ukrainian language classes. Goncharova also added that the parents of first-graders had written application for learning the Russian language, and (in areas inhabited by Crimean Tatars) for learning Crimean Tatar. Goncharova stated on 10 October 2014 that at that time Crimea had 20 schools where all subjects were conducted in Ukrainian.
A report (realised in the summer of 2015) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) claimed that the Republic of Crimea had the aim to "end the teaching of Ukrainian" by "pressure on school administrations, teachers, parents, and children".
The majority of the Crimean population adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, with the Crimean Tatars forming a Sunni Muslim minority, besides smaller Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Armenian Apostolic and Jewish minorities. In 2013, Orthodox Christians made up 58% of the Crimean population, followed by Muslims (15%, mainly Tatars) and believers without religion (10%).
Peninsula economy is based on tourism, 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.
In March 2014 Crimean GDP was estimated at $4.3 billion or 0.2% of Russia based on current prices and 0.5% based on purchasing power parity.
After annexation of the peninsula, Russia doubled payments to about 560,000 pensioners and 200,000 public workers (in Crimea). Those raises were cut back in April 2015.
In June 2015 The Economist estimated that the average salary in Crimea was about two-thirds of the average salary in Russia. According to Russian statistics by March 2015 the inflation in Crimea was 80%. According to the Crimean authorities local food prices have grown 2.5 times since Russia's annexation. Since then the peninsula now has to import most of its food from Russia.
After the annexation, Russian Crimean authorities started nationalization of what they called strategically important enterprises, which included not only transportation and energy production enterprises, but also, for example, a wine factory in Massandra. The enterprises which belonged to Russian citizens were nationalized against financial reimbursement, which was, however, much lower than the actual value; those which belonged to Ukrainian citizens, for example, PrivatBank owned by Ihor Kolomoyskyi or Ukrtelecom owned by Rinat Akhmetov, were expropriated without any reimbursement. The future of the nationalized enterprises is decided by the government. Reasons given for this were (among others) "the company helped to finance military operations against Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic" and "the resort complex illegally blocked public access to nearby park lands". The government can nationalise assets considered to have "particular social, cultural, or historical value". In the case of the Zalyv Shipbuilding yard, Crimean "self-defense" forces stormed the company's headquarters to demand nationalization. Head of the Republic Sergey Aksyonov claimed that in at least one case "Employees established control of the enterprise on their own, we just helped them a little". The nationalization of Ihor Kolomoyskyi's assets was, according to Aksyonov, "totally justified due to the fact that he is one of the initiators and financiers of the special anti-terrorist operation in the Eastern Ukraine where Russian citizens are being killed".
By late October 2014 90% of the heads of Crimean government-owned corporation were fired as part of a supposed anti-corruption campaign, although no charges have been filed against anyone. Human rights activists in the region have described the seizures as lacking a legal basis and dismissed the "anti-corruption" rationale. In June 2015 the Federal Security Service (FSB) started several anti-corruption criminal cases against high ranking Crimean officials. According to Aksyonov the FSB had opened these criminal cases because it was "interested in destabilizing the situation in Crimea".
On 6 May 2014 the National Bank of Ukraine ordered Ukrainian banks to cease operations in Crimea; the following weeks the Central Bank of Russia closed all Ukrainian banks in the peninsula because "they had failed to meet their obligations to creditors". Eight months after the 21 March 2014 formal annexation of Crimea by Russia it became impossible for clients of Ukrainian banks to access their deposits and most of them did not pay interest (on loans).[clarification needed] A "Fund for the Protection of Depositors in Crimea", as part of Russia's Deposit Insurance Agency, was set up by Russia to compensate Crimeans. By 6 November 2014 it paid out more than $500 million to 196,400 depositors; the fund has a limit of about $15,000 per bank account. In July 2015, 25 banks were operating in Crimea while prior to the Russian annexation there were 180 banks.
While many international businesses left the region, in 2015 only a few Russian companies are reported to have invested in Crimea, fearing sanctions.
Under the international sanctions Crimea's once bustling IT-sector shrunk to a few IT companies.
Russia invests significantly in Crimea, according to "The Federal Target Program for the Development of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol" they plan to invest one trillion Russian rubles (15.3 billion dollars) before 2022 The Russian government claims that those investments are necessary because Ukrainian mismanagement of the Crimean territory caused losses of 2.5 trillion Russian rubles (38.3 billion dollars) to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol Meanwhile, Ukraine estimates their losses due to Russian annexation of the peninsula to 100 billion dollars.
Gross regional product:
A Free Economic Zone has been established in the territory of the Republic of Crimea since 1 January 2015.
By the end of 2017, the amount of investment in Crimea's free economic zone since early 2015, exceeded 100 billion rubles ($1.69 billion).
At the beginning of 2019, 215 billion rubles ($3.3 billion) were attracted to the economy of Crimea.
In 2014 about two million tourists holidayed in Crimea, including 300,000 Ukrainians. In 2013 3.5 million Ukrainian and 1.5 million Russian tourists visited Crimea. Tourism is the mainstay of the Crimean economy. In August 2014 Head of the Republic Aksyonov was confident that in 2015 Crimea would welcome "at least five million visitors – I have no doubts about that". Early August 2015 the press service of his government stated that in 2015 2.02 million tourists had visited Crimea (16.5% more than in 2014). They stated in January 2016 (that in 2015) more than 4 million tourists had vacationed in the peninsula. Over 6.4 million tourists visited Crimea in 2018.
The internet connection goes via Krasnodar Krai. Cell telecom In Crimea Peninsula worked four mobile operators already offers voice and mobile data for 2G, 3G and 4G users.
Main article: Crimean Directorate of Railway Transportation
Simferopol is an air transport hub of the Republic of Crimea.
Crimean trolleybus line length of 86 kilometres (53 mi) long of service «Krymtrolleybus».
Routes: Airport Simferopol — Simferopol — Alushta — Yalta
United Nations monitors (that had been in Crimea from 2 April to 6 May 2014) said they were concerned about treatment of journalists, sexual, religious and ethnic minorities and AIDS patients. The monitors had found that journalists and activists who had opposed the 2014 Crimean referendum had been harassed and abducted. They also reported that Crimeans who had not applied for Russian citizenship faced harassment and intimidation. Russia said that it did not support the deployment of human rights monitors in Crimea. The (new) Crimean authorities vowed to investigate the reports of human rights violations.
According to Human Rights Watch "Russia has violated multiple obligations it has as an occupying power under international humanitarian law – in particular in relation to the protection of civilians' rights."
In its November 2014 report on Crimea, Human Rights Watch stated that "The de facto authorities in Crimea have limited free expression, restricted peaceful assembly, and intimidated and harassed those who have opposed Russia's actions in Crimea". According to the report, 15 persons went missing since March 2014; according to Ukrainian authorities 21 people disappeared. Head of the Republic Sergey Aksyonov pledged to find the missing persons as well as the culprits behind the kidnappings. Aksyonov regularly meets with a group of parents, whose children have gone missing, and human rights activists. These parents and human rights activists have complained that rotation of the team of investigators into these missing persons has harmed these investigations.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People has come under the scrutiny of the Russian Federal Security Service, which reportedly took control of the building where the Mejlis meets and searched it on 16 September 2014. Crimean Tatar media said FSB officers also searched the office of the Avdet newspaper, which is based inside the Mejlis building. Several members of the Mejlis were also reportedly subjected to FSB searches at their homes. Several Crimean Tatar opposition figures were banned from entering Crimea for five years. Since Russia annexed Crimea several Crimean Tatars have disappeared or have been found dead after being reported missing. Crimean authorities state these deaths and disappearances are connected to "smoking an unspecified substance" and volunteers for the Syrian civil war; human rights activists claim the disappearances are part of a repression campaign against Crimean Tatars.
In February 2016 human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku from Crimea was arrested and accused of belonging to the Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir although he denies any involvement in this organization. Amnesty International has called for his immediate liberation.
In May 2018, Server Mustafayev, the founder and coordinator of the human rights movement Crimean Solidarity, was imprisoned by Russian authorities and charged with "membership of a terrorist organisation". Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders demand his immediate release.
Main article: Political status of Crimea
The status of the republic is disputed, as Russia and some other states recognised the annexation, whilst most other nations do not. Ukraine still considers both the Autonomous Republic and Sevastopol as subdivisions of Ukraine under Ukrainian territory and subject to Ukrainian law.
The official line of the US, EU and Australia is that they don't grant visas to Crimeans with Russian passports. Nevertheless, Russian media claims Crimeans get visas for some EU countries.
On 21 March 2014, Armenia recognised the Crimean referendum, which led to Ukraine recalling its ambassador to that country. The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic also recognised the referendum earlier that week on 17 March. On 22 March 2014, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan told a U.S. delegation that he recognised and supported the Crimean referendum and "respects the free will of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol to decide their own future". On 23 March 2014, Belarus recognised Crimea as de facto part of Russia. On 27 March 2014, Nicaragua unconditionally recognised the incorporation of Crimea into Russia.
On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly voted on a non-binding resolution claiming that the referendum was invalid and reaffirming Ukraine's territorial integrity, by a vote of 100 to 11, with 58 abstentions and 24 absent. Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States and 89 other countries voted for; Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, as well as Russia, voted against. Among the abstaining countries were China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Brazil. Israel was among the countries listed as absent. Reuters reported unnamed UN diplomats saying the Russian delegation threatened with punitive action against certain Eastern European and Central Asian countries if they supported the resolution. Subsequent United Nations General Assembly resolutions also reaffirmed non-recognition of the annexation and condemned "the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine—the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol".
Crimea was formally absorbed into Russia on 18 March, to international condemnation, after unidentified gunmen took over the peninsula.
The territories of the Crimean peninsula, comprising Sevastopol City and the Republic of Crimea, remained internationally recognized as constituting part of Ukraine, following their annexation by Russia in March 2014.
The moment in which this long trajectory truly took shape came not in the spring of 2014 but one morning late in the autumn of 1782, as Empress Catherine II sat in her study in the Winter Palace drinking coffee. In her hand was a carefully crafted letter from Prince Grigorii Potemkin, president of the War College, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and grand admiral of the Black Sea and Caspian fleets. For some months Potemkin had been urging his sovereign to declare an end to the in dependence of the Crimean Khanate (an interlude that began in 1774).
The March 16 referendum would become the political instrument to annex the peninsula, a process that concluded on March 18
Organizing and holding the referendum on Crimea's accession to Russia was illegal under the Ukrainian constitution. Article 2 of the constitution establishes that "Ukraine shall be a unitary state" and that the "territory of Ukraine within its present border is indivisible and inviolable". This is confirmed in regard to Crimea by Chapter X of the constitution, which provides for the autonomous status of Crimea. Article 134 sets forth that Crimea is an "inseparable constituent part of Ukraine". The autonomous status provides Crimea with a certain set of authorities and allows, inter alia, to hold referendums. These rights are, however, limited to local matters. The constitution makes clear that alterations to the territory of Ukraine require an all-Ukrainian referendum.
The recognition of Crimea by Russia was the legal fig leaf which allowed Russia to say that it did not annex Crimea from Ukraine, rather the Republic of Crimea exercised its sovereign powers in seeking a merge with Russia
By March 26, the annexation was essentially complete, and Russia began returning seized military hardware to Ukraine.