Crimea, is a major peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe that is almost completely surrounded by both the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov to the northeast. It is located south of the Ukrainian region of Kherson and west of the Russian region of Kuban. It is connected to Kherson Oblast by the Isthmus of Perekop and is separated from Kuban by the Strait of Kerch. The Arabat Spit is located to the northeast, a narrow strip of land that separates a system of lagoons named Sivash from the Sea of Azov.
Crimea has historically been at the boundary between the classical world and the Pontic–Caspian steppe. Its southern fringe was colonised by the ancient Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Crimean Goths, the Genoese and the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time its interior was occupied by a changing cast of invading steppe nomads and empires, such as the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Kipchaks, Mongols and the Golden Horde. Crimea and adjacent territories were united in the Crimean Khanate during the 15th to 18th century.
In 1783, Crimea became a part of Russian Empire as the result of Russo-Turkish War. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Crimea became an autonomous republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the USSR, though later, during World War II, it was downgraded to the Crimean Oblast.
In 1954, the Crimean Oblast was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by Nikita Khrushchev as a sign of friendship between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples.
When Ukraine was formed as an independent state in 1991, most of the peninsula was reorganized as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, while the city of Sevastopol retained special status within Ukraine. In 1997 Ukraine and Russia signed three treaties that partitioned the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, setting terms that allowed Russia to continue basing its fleet in Crimea. Sevastopol remained the location of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters, while the Ukrainian Naval Forces were also headquartered in the city. Ukraine extended Russias lease of the naval facilities under the 2010 Kharkiv Pact in exchange for discounted natural gas.
In March 2014, following the overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, unmarked Russian forces with local militias took control of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. The Russian-controlled authorities held a referendum on Crimea joining the Russian Federation, after which the Russian government proclaimed official control over the peninsula. The referendum was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine,
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