The Atlantic

Ukraine Is Ground Zero for the Crisis Between Russia and the West

As Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki, the confrontation reflects a larger—and for now probably unbridgeable—divide.
Source: Antonio Bronic / Reuters

—To land in Kiev is to reach ground zero of today’s confrontation between Russia and the West. The start of the Ukraine conflict is, depending on one’s chronology, the defining moment of their crisis. It’s here that, in the spring of 2014, Moscow organized a referendum of dubious legitimacy to annex Crimea; that Russia used troops whose existence it denied to help rebels seize parts of Donbas, in the country’s east; and that those rebels, who said they were acting on behalf of a public with whom they didn’t check, proclaimed the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in that region. All of this followed the ouster of Ukraine’s president in what the West called a revolution and Russia denounced as a coup. Today, Crimea remains firmly in Russian hands. The self-styled People’s Republics are largely cut off from the rest of the country by a line of contact that brings daily hardship, exchange of fire, and death

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