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Stalemate in Crimea

Five years of international sanctions and Western attempts to isolate Russia have had no effect on the Kremlin's control of Crimea. The stalemate is likely to persist, with the international community continuing to dispute the annexation and not recognizing the peninsula’s current de facto status.

MOSCOW – Five years after Russia annexed Crimea, there is no reason to believe the peninsula’s status will change anytime soon. Today, it is easier to imagine the reunification of North and South Korea – something unthinkable a few years ago – than Crimea returning to Ukrainian control. Although the US State Department still refers to the situation in the peninsula as an “attempted annexation,” the attempt has succeeded. And the West can do nothing about it.

Russia’s actions in Crimea in 2014 prompted international sanctions and Western attempts to isolate the Kremlin. And relations between Russia and the West remain at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War. But the West’s response has had no effect whatsoever on Russia’s position.

Despite international protests, the Kremlin is in full control of the peninsula and nearby areas. It continues to deploy armed forces and build infrastructure there, including a road and rail bridge across the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to Krasnodar Krai in Russia. Ukrainian ships are punished for passing through the Kerch Strait. And Ukraine and the West, as well as human-rights groups, have been unable to prevent Russian authorities from repressing the Crimean Tatars.