Has the world accepted the Crimea annexation?

On 18 March 2014 Vladimir Putin signed the agreement on Crimea becoming part of the Russian Federation - two days after a controversial referendum. To this day much of the international community still doesn't recognise the peninsula as part of Russia but as Ukrainian territory. Five years after the annexation commentators describe how it is now perceived in the two countries and among the members of the international community.

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Krym.Realii (UA) /

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

People are still refusing to look the new reality in the face, the regional news website Krim.Realii writes:

“In March 2014 the West was like the three monkeys that see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. When Crimea was annexed, helpless calls to 'seek a compromise' came from the capitals. The annexation was a cold shower for everyone who had been convinced that Russia had made a new start. ... Ukraine was no exception here. ... The old Europe is still refusing to acknowledge the new reality. ... And here too, after five years of war there are still many who look favourably on the Russian leadership. In this situation we can hardly accuse Europe of being short-sighted, can we?”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Mood more hangover than celebration

You can't whip up any enthusiasm nowadays with the subject of Crimea, Radio Kommersant FM notes:

“Poroshenko promised to get Crimea back right after the Ukrainian elections. Of course he had to at least win them to do this. Kiev clearly has other matters to deal with now. ... [In Russia] the mood doesn't seem very celebratory either. The people have got used to Crimea being ours. But the inflammatory question of why power plants, bridges and roads are being built there and not here is also justified. ... Russia may be big but it has only one preferred region.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Russia has become a pariah state

The annexation of Crimea has made clear to the West who it's dealing with in Moscow, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“The annexation cost the Kremlin any residual benefit of the doubt about the threat posed to Eastern Europe. … Nato has belatedly woken up to the reality of what it is facing, even if some members still expect the US to pay for their defence. … No one wants a conflict with Russia; but a confrontation becomes much more likely unless the Kremlin clearly understands that its aggrandisement will be resisted. After Crimea, Mr Putin thought he could get away with anything, even assassination attempts abroad. But Russia has become an international pariah, trusted by few and isolated as a consequence of his leadership.”

Turun Sanomat (FI) /

Putin's Crimea bonus is used up

Russia would do well to work on solving the Crimea crisis, writes Turun Sanomat:

“The annexation of Crimea boosted the popularity ratings of Putin and the army. But now the Crimea bonus has been used up. The popularity of the president, the government, the secret service, the banks and the oligarchs is dwindling. ... The sanctions, the pension and tax reforms and the outdated economic structure are weakening the citizens's trust in their leadership. In authoritarian systems attempts are often made to divert attention from domestic problems by shifting the focus to external threats. Hopefully there will be no more need for such a policy. A de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis would also work in Russia's favour.”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

Major improvements

Ria Novosti comments that Crimea has experienced many improvements thanks to Russia:

“In these five years what was a 'renegade' peninsula in Kiev's and Washington's view has become an organic component of the huge Russian Federation. And this is not just thanks to the Crimean Bridge whose railway section will start operating this year and whose road section has already become a normal part of the landscape. Nor to the construction of two brand new power stations whose first blocks are already running at almost full capacity and guaranteeing the peninsula's energy supply. Nor to the 'Tavrida' motorway and the airport in Simferopol which conforms to all the international standards. The most important changes in these years have taken place in the minds of the people, and not just the minds of the inhabitants of Crimea but of all other Russians.”

Vedomosti (RU) /

Triumphal marches also have their price

Vedomosti comments on the ongoing Crimea euphoria with a certain sarcasm:

“Russia's history reached its zenith and a happy ending in March 2014. A golden era began, darkened only by the return of the real income and the consumers' depression. But psychologically it is no less golden. After all, there's a price to pay for everything, and even if we're sick and tired of paying it: beyond Crimea there are no political alternatives or instruments of social cohesion, nor any need for them. But extending the triumphal Crimea march wasn't so easy: Donbass didn't become a continuation of Crimea, and nor did Trump, whose victory was celebrated with champagne in the Duma. Yet the Crimean majority, although eroding due to social and economic problems and ignorant about how much tax money is flowing into Crimea, is still politically solid and united.”

Delfi (LT) /

Putin is the Russians' worst enemy

Delfi looks at what state Russia is in five years after the annexation:

“There's a long line of arguments showing that Putin hates the Russians more than even the most anti-Russian Lithuanian. It wasn't the Lithuanians and the Poles who have deprived the Russians of a free press and the right to free elections. ... Putin has taken away Russia's possibility to finally become a normal state which above all takes care of its citizens instead of a gang of greedy wolves who are bent on stealing a piece of land from their neighbour. Putin and his clique are building palaces and buying yachts with the stolen money. ... This clique is channelling the looted billions of euros into Western banks while at the same time cursing the West. And the Russians are left naked, without hospitals and sometimes even without electricity or heating.”