A child drags a toy truck past pro-Russian soldiers standing outside an Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Crimea, Thursday, March 20, 2014.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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The crisis over Crimea is more than a dispute over whether the strategic Black Sea peninsula should be considered Russian or Ukrainian.That set off a chain of events that led to the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president and, ultimately, to Russia's annexation of Crimea.Russian President Vladimir Putin recounted the post-Cold War history during a speech Tuesday marking Crimea's annexation, accusing the West of cheating Russia and ignoring its interests in the years that followed the Soviet collapse.Few Western observers and students of East-West relations condone Putin's actions in Ukraine – the military takeover, the hastily organized referendum for Crimean independence or Moscow's equally rushed annexation of the peninsula Tuesday.Russia's strategic and emotional ties to Crimea are especially deep.Russia also has deployed a big force opposite Ukraine's eastern border, the industrial heartland where a big Russian population would welcome a restoration of Kremlin power.Western and central Ukraine, on the contrary, are eager to slip the ancient Russian leash and to join with the EU and NATO.
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