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Ukraine belongs to NATO’s Partnership for Peace program but is seen as having little prospect of joining the alliance in the foreseeable future.Similar concerns about Georgia contributed to Moscow’s deployment of forces at the Georgian border in 2008, which led to a brief war and Russian occupation of the breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.Today Tatars constitute about 12 percent of Crimea’s population.The peninsula only became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev transferred it from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in what was seen as a largely symbolic administrative move within the Soviet Union.Occupied for centuries by Muslim Tatars affiliated with the Ottoman Empire, Crimea was conquered in 1783 by Russia’s Catherine the Great.Soviet leader Joseph Stalin deported the Tatar population of about two hundred thousand to Central Asia during World War II, and the bulk of them did not return until 1989.By Robert Mc Mahon, editor at the Council on Foreign Relations Introduction Ukraine’s most prolonged and deadly crisis since its post-Soviet independence began as a protest against the government dropping plans to forge closer trade ties with the European Union and has since spurred a global standoff between Russia and Western powers.

By many accounts, he then reverted to the pattern of corruption and cronyism.

Militarily, Ukraine is also important to Russia as a buffer state, and it is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol under a bilateral agreement between the two states.

Russia considers EU efforts to expand eastward to Ukraine, even through a relatively limited association agreement, as an alarming step because it opens the doors toward strengthening an array of Western institutional ties at the expense of Russian ones.

His family may have embezzled as much as billion, according to Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

He also turned against his opponent in the 2010 presidential race, Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the high-profile reformist leaders of the Orange Revolution, imprisoning her on charges of abuse of power.

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