The year 2014 marked the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the Crimean War, 1854–6. It was during that anniversary year that the names of Crimea, Sevastopol, Simferopol and the Black Sea re-entered the lexicon of Ireland, and so did the terms ‘Russian aggression’, ‘territorial violation’ and ‘weak neighbour’. Coincidentally, those same places and terms, and the sheer extent to which they perpetuated within Irish and even world media as well as popular parlance, had not been seen nor heard since 1854. It was in that year that the British and French Empires committed themselves to war in the wider Black Sea region and beyond against the Russian Empire. The latter had demonstrated clear aggression, initially diplomatic and later military, against its perceived-to-be-weak neighbour and long-term adversary in the region, the Ottoman Empire, or Turkey. As part of that aggression Russia invaded the latter’s vassal principalities in the north-western Balkans, namely Wallachia and Moldavia (part of modern-day Romania), collectively known as the Danubian Principalities. Russia had previously taken Crimea from the Ottomans in 1783....
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