Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:March 19th, 2014 12:17 EST
So, Why Did Nikita Khrushchev Give Away Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 Anyhow?

So, Why Did Nikita Khrushchev Give Away Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 Anyhow?

By John G. Kays

Do you cringe every time you see another article on Crimea or on Ukraine? Why do you run for cover (instead, clicking on a Justin Bieber piece) when realizing Crimea, Ukraine, and Russia are the headline news for the day (and have been so for about a month now)? It`s because you`re ignorant of their long and complex histories, that`s why! Until you commit to learning their histories and geographies this problem is not going to evaporate, it`s only going to get worse. I took a course in Russian History when I was in college, but didn`t do so great; I made a C+ in it and finally, forty years later, I think I know the reason why I was having trouble learning it.

I was taking 15 hours (at the time) and Russian History requires your undivided attention; the names are hard to remember, the political history changes totally every fifteen minutes, and the expanse of land is enormous, overwhelming really. You`ll need to break it down into periods; try to concentrate on a short segment of time and see if that helps. I took a class on the Russian Revolution; this is a great way to get into it. Another approach that may help, is to read some of the great Russian classics of literature, such as War and Peace (if you can finish it), anything by Dostoyevsky, and then be sure to read A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, for the Twentieth Century. 

The literature will lead you to the water trough organically; you`re going to have to switch over to the history, if you want to understand why the writer wrote what he did. Many of the atrocities of the Stalin Regime weren`t uncovered until The Soviet Union broke up; an example is, why did Stalin order the deportation of193,865 Crimean Tartars in 1944? Were the Tartars actually collaborating with the Nazis? And does this explain why they are not so sympathetic with Russian occupation today (because of Stalin`s purge)? I would urge you, as these question crop up, to break it down into its smallest component parts; then you`ll begin to learn this history.

Gradually, much of it will begin to sink in; I wish I`d have had a grip on this simple notion back when I took that class on Russian History at The University of Texas (Fall of 1973). The Ukrainians had the original (Russian, if you will) organized political state, Kievan Rus in the 10th century, with Kiev as the center of the empire; this was fully 300 years before the Muscovy State (roughly 1300-1600), where Moscow becomes the center of the Russian continent. You`ll need to study both of these periods thoroughly, with one question in mind, isn`t it rather Ukraine that has a greater claim to Russia`s ancient history? How can, or why should today`s Russia being bullying Ukraine, when she holds the seed of her ancient heritage?

You won`t mind reading these articles so much if you`ll start to ask the right questions, that will force you to pick up some history books (I wouldn`t try tackling this awesome task simply by way of the internet) and try to clear up some of your confusion, one issue at a time. I`m still trying to scope out some good sources and it`s not so easy. Please read everything you can find on the BBC, since they are the best, as far as the internet goes. Wikipedia is good also but should lead you to books, yea books, my friend. The best one (book) I`ve found so far, or the most readable, I should say, is Ukraine A History, by Orest Subtelny. Okay, let`s get started! So, why did Nikita Khrushchev give away Crimea to Ukraine in 1954? Was this act of generosity what got this whole mess started?