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The civil war was marked by high levels of casualties and gruesome atrocities on both sides.Despite Khrushchev’s later role in denouncing Stalinism and implementing reforms in the USSR, he had relied on ruthless, unstinting violence to establish and enforce Soviet control over western Ukraine.The notion that the transfer was justified solely by Crimea’s cultural and economic affinities with Ukraine is also far-fetched.In the 1950s, the population of Crimea — approximately 1.1 million — was roughly 75 percent ethnic Russian and 25 percent Ukrainian.Some 860,000 ethnic Russians would be joining the already large Russian minority in Ukraine.A somewhat similar approach was used in the three newly annexed Baltic republics, especially Latvia and Estonia, both of which had had very few Russian inhabitants prior to the 1940s.Of particular importance were the role of Nikita Khrushchev, the recent traumas inflicted on Ukraine, and the ongoing power struggle in the USSR.
The transfer was announced in the Soviet press in late February 1954, eight days after the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution authorizing the move on 19 February.In 1944, when Khrushchev himself was still the Communist Party leader in Ukraine, he reportedly had suggested to Stalin that transferring Crimea to the Ukr SSR would be a useful way of winning support from local Ukrainian elites. Regardless of whether Khrushchev actually did bring up this matter with Stalin (the veracity of the secondhand retrospective account is uncertain), it most likely reflects Khrushchev’s own sense as early as 1944 that expanding Ukraine’s territory was a way of gaining elite support in the republic.In particular, Khrushchev almost certainly regarded the transfer of Crimea as a means of securing Kyrychenko’s backing.A historical-archival journal, (Historical Archive), which had been published in the USSR from 1955 until 1962, began appearing again in 1992 with transcriptions of declassified documents from the former Soviet archives.
The first issue of the revived in 1992 contained a section about the transfer of Crimea that featured documents from the Russian Presidential Archive and from a few other archives whose collections are now housed at the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF).
The treaty did provide an important step in that direction, but years of further struggling and warfare had to take place before full unification occurred.