The words “Crimean” and “War,” when combined, have an old-timey ring to them, sounding better suited to the pages of a steampunk novel than the front pages of major world newspapers. As the world watches to see what Russia, Ukraine, and other world powers will do next, it’s helpful to have some quality information on the major players.
Ukraine - If you’ve ever played Risk, you know that the positioning of Ukraine, right between Eastern Europe and Russia, makes it a particularly volatile area on the map. Ethnic Ukrainians make up more than three fourths of the population; Russians constitute around 17%, and there are Belarusian, Moldovan, Polish, Jewish, and other minorities.
Russia - Years of negotiations with Ukraine over the disposition of the Black Sea fleet ended in an accord in 1997 that divided the ships between them and permitted Russia to base its fleet in Sevastopol for 20 years. A 25-year extension of that lease (in exchange for Russia's giving Ukraine a discounted price for natural gas) was negotiated in 2010.
Crimea - Russian armies first invaded the Crimea in 1736. Empress Catherine II forced Turkey to recognize the khanate's independence in 1774, and in 1783 she annexed it outright; the annexation was confirmed by the Treaty of Jassy (1792). Many Tatars, with their Muslim religion and Turkic language, emigrated to Turkey, while Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Germans, Armenians, and Greeks settled in the Crimea. The biggest and strategically most important city is Sevastopol, and yes, we have a Topic Page for that too!
The Crimean War - (krīmē´әn), 1853-56, war between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France, and Sardinia on the other. While it was a devastating and terrible war, it was here that Florence Nightingale revolutionized the field of nursing.
The Black Sea - The Black Sea is a major trade artery for Eastern Europe; the chief ports are Odessa and Mykolayiv (Ukraine), Novorossiysk (Russia), Batumi (Georgia), Constanţa (Romania), Varna and Burgas (Bulgaria), and Trabzon (Turkey).
Featured image (displayed on homepage): http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Ukraine_political_simple_Krim_alternative.png