The issue of Crimean separatism is not new. In the early post-Soviet period it became one of the biggest challenges newly independent Ukraine had to manage. A closer look at the events of the early 1990s and the concept of Crimean autonomy helps to put current events in perspective and points to an alternative to war.
A history of fractious multi-ethnicity, a legacy of autonomy experiments, a Soviet-era transfer from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, a center-periphery struggle in Ukraine, economic dependence, the tense relationship between Ukraine and Russia, and readily available military resources (in the form of the Black Sea Fleet) account for the complexity of the ‘Crimea question.’ Separatism peaked in 1992-1994, and internal and external observers talked of Crimea as the next international flashpoint. On July 17, 1993, the Economist warned of a ‘long-running, acrimonious, possibly bloody and conceivably nuclear, dispute over Crimea’. Frequent comparisons were drawn with the wars in Yugoslavia.
Oxford academic Gwendolyn Sasse writes in The Monkey Cage about possible strategies to prevent conflict in Crimea. The full text is available here