“The Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula grabbed headlines in March 2014, just a short time after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power. Protests began in November 2013 when Yanukovych backed out of an economic pact with the European Union at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and signed a separate deal that more closely aligned Ukraine with Russia. The overthrow of Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, and the events that followed — beginning with the annexation of Crimea and the violent birth of self-declared, pro-Russian autonomous republics in Russian speaking eastern Ukraine — illustrated the stark divide between ethnic Ukrainians in the country’s west and those in the east who identified more strongly as Russian.
Since the seizure of Crimea, Russia has remained active in eastern Ukraine, where its military involvement has been both covert and, in spite of repeated denials, overt, as attested to by U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, in March 2015, when he estimated Russia had around 12,000 troops operating in Ukraine. While Russia’s support to the Ukrainian rebels has predominantly been in armaments and provisions, the implementation of its own, state controlled Russian-language media...”
Excerpt from Brian P. Cotter, “Russkiy Mir,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 7, Special Edition, 2016: 30-35.
Capt. Brian P. Cotter is a U.S. Army foreign area officer with a focus on Eurasia. He has served nearly 10 years in the U.S. Army, with two tours in Iraq, and has led multiple commands. He is currently studying at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and pursuing a master’s degree in East European, Russian and Eurasian studies.
This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.