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Russia's Latest Land Grab

How Putin Won Crimea and Lost Ukraine

Author: Jeffrey Mankoff
May/June 2014
Foreign Affairs

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Russia's occupation and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in February and March have plunged Europe into one of its gravest crises since the end of the Cold War. Despite analogies to Munich in 1938, however, Russia's invasion of this Ukrainian region is at once a replay and an escalation of tactics that the Kremlin has used for the past two decades to maintain its influence across the domains of the former Soviet Union. Since the early 1990s, Russia has either directly supported or contributed to the emergence of four breakaway ethnic regions in Eurasia: Transnistria, a self-declared state in Moldova on a strip of land between the Dniester River and Ukraine; Abkhazia, on Georgia's Black Sea coast; South Ossetia, in northern Georgia; and, to a lesser degree, Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked mountainous region in southwestern Azerbaijan that declared its independence under Armenian protection following a brutal civil war.

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