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Crimea, a rugged strategic peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, is part of Ukraine thanks to a whim of a Soviet leader, a gift that has come back to haunt Moscow.Moscow began its reign in the 18th century, establishing its Black Sea Fleet in 1783 on the southern tip of the peninsula in what is today the city of Sevastopol, and continued its rule into the Soviet era uninterrupted except for the German occupation during World War II.Toward the end of the war, in May 1944, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin deported the entire Muslim Tatar population of Crimea, where they had lived for centuries, to Central Asia on charges of having collaborated with the Nazis.
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