[Originally published by Royal Danish Defence College]

In this brief, Author Jonas Alastair Juhlin outlines the strategic objectives Russia hopes to achieve with the annexation of Crimea.

With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the new Russia has seen a decrease in the natural growth of its population. Much of this can be explained by the independence of many of the former Soviet republics. Other reasons are a result of emigration to Western Europe, an unwillingness to have children owing to poor future prospects, and an inferior public health service. In early 2006 the trend had continued, and President Vladimer Putin addressed these problems in a speech on the 10th of May 2006 as the biggest concern for Russia.  

At the time, the efforts included improved health care, better conditions for families with young children, and more attractive offers for its citizens to stay in Russia. A policy of welcoming immigrants from the former USSR republics was also actively pursued. 

With the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia was given a boost. The momentum from the annexation was followed with an increased rhetoric of protecting ethnic Russians abroad in Eastern Europe. If Russia had not done so, their hard earned gains from 2006 could be severely reversed if Ukraine had turned towards the European Union. Ukraine could have been seen as a gateway to the prosperous EU and Western Europe. With the civil unrest and armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine this option was eliminated. It could also make the immigration to Russia an attractive option, instead of staying in the conflict zone. The object of the Russian strategy is the most precious resource of all: People.

Download Russia’s Alternative Strategic Objectives