behind the Ukraine crisis Army soldiers
Ukrainian soldiers preparing an underground bunker in Hranitne, Ukraine, in November. Conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine has continued despite a cease-fire in 2015.Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
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What’s behind the Ukraine crisis?

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Ukraine crisis 2022: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO expanded eastwards. It eventually took over most of the European countries that were in communist territory. The Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, once part of the Soviet Union, joined NATO. As did Poland, Romania and others.

As a result, NATO, a coalition created to counter the Soviet Union, moved closer to Moscow, directly hundreds of miles from the Russian border. And in 2008, he said he planned – someday – to nominate Ukraine, though it is still seen as a distant possibility.

Mr. Putin has described Soviet disintegration as one such catastrophe. Which stripped Russia of its rightful place among the world’s great powers and put it at the mercy of a hunter-gatherer West. He has spent 22 years in power trying to rebuild Russia’s military and reinvent its geopolitical clout.

The Russian president calls the expansion of NATO dangerous, and the possibility of Ukraine joining it is a potential threat to his country. As Russia became more assertive and stronger militarily. His complaints about NATO became more and more intense. He has repeatedly invoked the ghost of US ballistic missiles and combat forces in Ukraine. Although US, Ukrainian and NATO officials insist there are none.

Mr Putin has also emphasized that Ukraine and Belarus are culturally and historically part of Russia in origin. He has considerable influence over Belarus, and talks about some sort of reunification with Russia have been going on for years.

But by the beginning of 2014, East-West relations took a turn for the worse. When mass protests in Ukraine forced the president, closely allied with Mr. Russia swiftly invaded and annexed Crimea, part of Ukraine. Moscow also sparked a separatist uprising. Which took control of part of the Donbass region of Ukraine. In a war that is still grinding, more than 13,000 people have died.

A 2015 ceasefire agreement on the Donbass could give Russian proxies veto power over most Ukrainian policy, including foreign affairs. But the war caused Russia to become more unpopular in Ukraine and both sides accused each other of violating the agreement. It was never fully implemented.

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