Breaking with the past: Crimea’s anniversary

Breaking with the past: Crimea’s anniversary

It’s been three years since little green men stormed the Crimean Peninsula, ending Ukrainian dominance and ushering in a new

Photo: Alexander Aksakov/Getty

Photo: Alexander Aksakov/Getty

It’s been three years since little green men stormed the Crimean Peninsula, ending Ukrainian dominance and ushering in a new period of Russian rule.

Moscow insists that Crimeans decided their future democratically, pointing to a referendum held on March 16, 2014, in which 97% of those polled said they wanted to join the Russian Federation. The results were widely rejected by the international community – 13 members of the UN Security Council voted to declare them invalid but Russia vetoed (and China abstained).

In previous years, ‘Crimean accession day’ has been a headline event. In 2015, the Russian government organised a rock concert in central Moscow featuring a rousing speech by President Vladimir Putin and attracting some 100,000 people.

Saturday’s celebrations will be more muted. Pro-government rallies are expected in Crimea and Moscow but no official event has been organised. A flash mob entitled “Crimea-Russia, forever!” will take centre stage in the northern Russian city of Murmansk, while traditional deer races will mark the occasion in Serbia.

Of course, Western powers have used the occasion to condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea once more, but in reality there’s little they can do to turn back the clock now.