“President Biden on the Anniversary of Russia’s Illegal Invasion of Ukraine”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 26, 2021)–today President Joe Biden released a statement on the “Anniversary of Russia’s Illegal Invasion of Ukraine Seven years ago today, Russia violated international law, the norms by which modern countries engage one another, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor Ukraine when it invaded Crimea.”

Biden said in the statement that “the United States continues to stand with Ukraine and its allies and partners today, as it has from the beginning of this conflict. On this somber anniversary, we reaffirm a simple truth: Crimea is Ukraine.”

Biden added “the United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts. We will continue to work to hold Russia accountable for its abuses and aggression in Ukraine. We will also continue to honor the courage and hope of the Revolution of Dignity, in which the Ukrainian people faced down sniper fire and enforcers in riot gear on the Maidan and demanded a new beginning for their country. The United States still believes in the promise of Ukraine and we support all those working towards a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous future for their country.”

In 2014 thousands of Russian troops marched on Ukraines border just across from the rebellion.  Things got bad in  July of that year, when the Ukrainian government launched an offensive to push out the rebels. Russia started arming the rebels with high-tech surface-to-air missiles; on July 17, 2014 a civilian airliner with 298 people on board was shot down over eastern Ukraine, most likely accidentally by the rebels , and the world had finally had enough. Ukraine redoubled its offensive, the rebels looked on the verge of getting overrun, and in mid-August Russia escalated from covertly supporting the rebels to overtly invading with Russian military troops.

“The US and Europe, while clearly outraged and punishing Russia with economic sanctions, have no plan to intervene, as putting Western troops into direct combat with Russian troops could make the risk of World War Three too great. So there is nothing stopping the Russian tanks.”

The way that Russia seized Crimea by force from Ukraine this March was hostile and extremely illegal — there is no doubt about this. But the more abstract question of whether Crimea is deep down Russian or Ukrainian is much less clear. 

The reasons for this  are esoteric and it didn’t actually do much since both “republics” were part of the Soviet Union. In 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up, everyone expected Moscow to demand Crimea back. But it didn’t. A slight majority of Crimeans voted for independence from Russia, and when Crimea formally joined the newly independent Ukraine (but with special autonomy privileges), Russia promised to honor and respect this.

Ukraine-map-composite

Since declaring independence in 1991, Ukraine has been divided, and this crisis is an extension of that. When people talk about this divide, they typically refer to language. About two-thirds of Ukrainians speak Ukrainian as their native language, mostly in the country’s west; about a third are native Russian-speakers, mostly in the east. But the language divide is  fuzzier than that. And language is really just a shorthand for describing a much more complicated political and ideological division.

 

Source: White House and Vox contributed to the article.

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