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Ukraine is one of the three founding members of the Soviet Union. Its culture and history are closely related to Russia. Yet, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine declared independence in 1991 and many, mostly young people, started to look west to Europe and the EU. Inspired by ideas of freedom, upward mobility and the pleasures of a prosperous middle class that seemed to go hand in hand with democracy, Ukraine sought partnerships with the EU and NATO.
Of course, Ukraine’s focus to join the west was viewed with great suspicion by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, who used Ukraine’s dependency on cheap gas to control its politicians and corrupt the country. For many years, Ukraine has been in a splash, on the one hand looking to join the ‘Free World’ but on the other hand controlled by the Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin. As a result, the country swept from one revolution to another. It started with the Orange Revolution in 2004 and ended with the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 that ousted the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The idea of losing Russia’s cultural, economic and military interests in Ukraine to the EU and perhaps NATO was irreconcilable with Putin’s vision (expressed in his famous Munich Speech) to restore the greatness of the former Soviet Union. Putin, therefore, ordered the rollout of a plan to annex Crimea.
On 22–23 February 2014, directly following the outcome of the Revolution of Dignity, Russian president Vladimir Putin convened an all-night meeting with security service chiefs to discuss the extrication of the deposed pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. At the end of the meeting , Putin remarked that “we must start working on returning Crimea to Russia1Annexation of Crimea.Wikipedia
The next morning after the security meeting, on 23 February, pro-Russian demonstrations were held in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, protesting the “coup” in Kyiv. On 27 February, masked Russian troops without insignia took over the Supreme Council (parliament) of Crimea and captured strategic sites across Crimea.
Around the same time as Russia’s annexation of Crimea, protests by pro-Russian, anti-government separatist groups took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, collectively called the Donbas. Here too, protesting the change of government in Kyiv.
Nationalist forces inside the Russian Federation, groomed by Russian media for years and flushed with the annexation, took it upon themselves to free the east of Ukraine (Donbas and Luhansk)from the rest of the country. Behind them came Russian military hardware and soldiers, although the Kremlin insists they were not on official army service. This protracted war in eastern Ukraine officially called an Anti-Terrorism Operation, has continued till this day and eventually led to the War in Ukraine. Below is a timeline of key events since the end of World War II that have defined the relationship between the “free world” (EU and USA), Ukraine and Russia, which eventually led to the War in Ukraine.
The War in Ukraine actually rewrites western history. In western history books, it is a long-established fact that the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But that has been a very singular, western perspective, given by an unwillingness to read between the lines. In the mind of Vladimir Putin and his former KGB following, the Cold War never ended; with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, it had just entered a new phase.