Once Crimea is formally annexed to Russia, National Geographic Society has announced that a new mapping will become available, no matter if the idea is rejected by world leaders who see the autonomous republic still as part of Ukraine. The National Geographic Society, a nongovernmental map policy body is set to show the world as it is when Russia will welcome the newly formed republic into its boundaries. According to the magazine, its cartographic policy is to mirror the reality in which the peninsula is a grey area and receives special treatment as part of the “Areas of Special Status.”
News broke on Wednesday that Crimea’s new mapping will be revealed soon by National Geographic Society, although the current situation is rejected by world leaders, but the society stated that “Friday’s [Russian] parliamentary vote” will determine whether the world’s map will be changed or not. Juan Valdes, the Geographer of the National Geographic Society mentioned that if Crimea will be formally annexed, the company’s policy dictates “that we shade the area gray , signifying that it is a disputed territory.” He also added that the situation with the autonomous republic is not a premiere and that the circumstances when mapping the West Bank, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Gaza were also portrayed as disputed territories.
National Geographic Society’s formal statement released on Tuesday explained that “those that are disputed receive special treatment,” therefore are shaded gray and receive an explanatory text which explains the situation. As a result, Crimea’s administrative center will be based in Simferopol if it is officially annexed by Russia and it will have a special symbol to mark the current situation.
World Leaders Reject the Annexation
While Russia is about to make it official and welcome Crimea into its boundaries, world leaders like the United States and the European Union refuse to recognize the current situation, therefore the new mapping which shows that the autonomous republic will belong to Russia. Peter Velasco, U.S. State Department press spokesperson told National Geographic that the United States refuses to see the independent republic as part of Russia, therefore the nation has “no plans to change U.S. government maps.”
Velasco also added that annexing Crimea is considered illegal and “a threat to international peace and security.”
At the same time, William Pomeranz, expert on Russia and Eurasia stated that National Geographic Society and mapmakers, in general will have a hard time satisfying all parts involved, because although Russia will make it official and welcome Crimea into its territory, “no one will recognize it.”
New Problems Raised by Mapping
National Geographic Society is not the only mapmaker which is confronted with mixed feelings regarding the new mapping; the English-language page of Wikipedia which depicts Russia showed Crimea as part of the country led by Vladimir Putin, but later on it changed to being part of Ukraine. At the same time, Google continues to show the autonomous republic as part of Ukraine.
Although National Geographic Society did not introduce the changes yet, they will be implemented after Russia officially annexes the disputed peninsula. However, the idea of Crimea as part of Russian territory is rejected by world leaders, therefore the new mapping will also be a reason of conflict.
By Gabriela Motroc