Russian Annexation of Crimea

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 9:30 am, 24th April 2019

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Many reasons have been given as to why Russia annexed Crimea, one of which is that keeping Ukraine at war prevents it from joining NATO. That goes beyond being a conspiracy theory; it is something we ought to recognise.

On 16 March 2014, Russia organised a sham referendum in Crimea. That referendum was followed on 18 March 2014 by the so-called agreement on the accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation. Voters were not given the chance to choose the status quo in that referendum, which was conducted in polling stations under armed guard. That violated Ukraine’s constitution and international law. It is claimed that 97% voted to join Russia, and according to Russian official results, that was on a turnout of 87%. However, it is interesting that later, a member of the Russian human rights council mistakenly posted the real election results, showing that only 55% had voted to join Russia on a turnout of 40%— a very significant difference.

The UN General Assembly produced two resolutions; I understand that we co-sponsored one. Those resolutions called on states and international organisations not to recognise any change in Crimea’s status, and affirmed the commitment of the United Nations to recognise Crimea as part of Ukraine. The referendum also violated, among other agreements, the 1994 Budapest memorandum on security assurances for Ukraine. Under that agreement, Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons that were on its territory in exchange for independence and undertakings given by Russia.

There is no precise data on what effect the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia has had, but a quick calculation shows that Ukraine has been robbed of the following assets: 3.6% of GDP; 4,000 enterprises; 10% of port infrastructure; 80% of oil and gas deposits; and 70% of potential natural gas deposits in the Black sea.