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Russia's annexation of Crimea and ongoing intimidation of Ukraine appears to mean the end of a 25-year period whose hallmark was an effort to bring Russia into greater alignment with Euro-Atlantic goals and traditions.As the weeks pass, it is increasingly clear that the challenge is not so much Ukraine – which will continue to lurch from one crisis to the next, as it has since independence 23 years ago – as it is Russia and its regression, recidivism and revanchism.Russia's historical relationship with Ukraine is far more complex and nuanced than many Western pundits suggest. It is difficult to talk about Russian civilization without talking about Ukraine. Russia's challenge to Ukraine's status as an independent state is thus a challenge to the entire world, which is why the crisis has risen to the top of the global agenda.This is not to say that Russia, having annexed Crimea and intimidated Ukraine, will seek to make similar trouble among former Soviet "allies".The Ukraine crisis is really a Russian crisis. Ukraine – whatever is eventually left of it – will increasingly become a Western country.
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