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Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to have achieved his political aim, namely to bring Ukraine, which had been drifting toward Europe throughout the post-Soviet period, firmly back into the Kremlin's sphere of influence.The second act was staged by the Ukrainian people, who, in the west of the country and at the Maidan in Kiev, rebelled against Yanukovych's effort to align their country more closely with Russia. After three months of protests, the uprising led to Yanukovych's ouster, which temporarily derailed Putin's plan to peacefully turn Ukraine into a vassal state of Russia. Without Crimea's annexation, Putin faced domestic political disaster and a premature end to his dream of reenacting Ivan the Great's "gathering of the Russian lands" and restoring Russia's global power.But Putin's aim has never been Russian control only of Crimea; he has always wanted all of Ukraine, because he fears nothing more than a successful, democratic, modern neighbor that undermines by example the authority of his own "managed democracy". So now we have reached the fourth act in the tragedy, in which Russia attempts to grab eastern Ukraine, and the West responds to this action.It is foreseeable that neither Russia nor the West will be strong enough to achieve its aims fully in Ukraine.
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