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Crimea was part of Russia from 1783, when the Tsarist Empire annexed it a decade after defeating Ottoman forces in the Battle of Kozludzha, until 1954, when the Soviet government transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukr SSR).
In retrospect the Treaty of Pereyaslav is often associated (inaccurately) with Russian-Ukrainian unity, but it is hard to see why anyone in the USSR would have proposed celebrating the 300 anniversary of the document by transferring Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukr SSR.
But the declassified files reveal nothing more about the motives for the transfer, leaving us with just the two official rationales that were published in 1954: (1) the cession of Crimea was a “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300 anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people”; and (2) the transfer was a natural outgrowth of the “territorial proximity of Crimea to Ukraine, the commonalities of their economies, and the close agricultural and cultural ties between the Crimean oblast and the Ukr SSS.” Neither of these ostensible justifications holds up to scrutiny.
Even though 1954 was the 300 anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, there is no connection between that treaty and the Crimean peninsula.
The Stalinist regime encouraged ethnic Russians to settle in those republics from the late 1940s on, and this policy continued under Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev.
Proportionally, the transfer of Russians to the Baltic republics was greater than in Ukraine, but in absolute numbers the transfer of Crimea brought into Ukraine much larger numbers of Russians and a region closely identified with Russia, bolstering Soviet control.
The peninsula did have important economic and infrastructural ties with Ukraine, but cultural ties were much stronger overall with Russia than with Ukraine, and Crimea was the site of major military bases from Tsarist times on, having become a symbol of Imperial Russian military power against the Ottoman Turks.