from Sputnik News:
Crimea broke off from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March 2014 following the Maidan coup in Kiev, which witnessed the overthrow of the country’s government and its replacement by ultranationalist and pro-Western forces. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics were established in the spring of 2014, also in response to the coup in Kiev.
Ukraine is ready to consider “discussing” the status of Crimea and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, President Volodymyr Zelensky has indicated.
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Warning that Ukraine is “not prepared for ultimatums,” Zelensky nevertheless expressed willingness for dialogue with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
“Regarding NATO, I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago, after we understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia. We never wanted to be a country that is begging for something on its knees, and we are not going to be that country and I don’t want to be that president,” Zelensky said.
Russia began a military operation in Ukraine aimed at demilitarising the country on 24 February. The mission, undertaken in coordination with Russia’s Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic allies, was kicked off after weeks of escalating shelling, sniper and sabotage attacks by Ukrainian forces against the Donbass militias and settlements, and days after Russia formally recognised the DPR and LPR as independent states.
Crisis Eight Years in the Making
The current crisis in Ukraine is the culmination of a calamity which began in February 2014, when US and EU-backed political forces aided by ultranationalists overthrew the country’s non-bloc status-seeking government and set a course for integration into the European Union and NATO. The chaos prompted authorities in Crimea to hold a referendum on the peninsula’s status, with the vast majority of residents of the mostly ethnic-Russian region voting in favour of breaking off from Ukraine’s jurisdiction and returning to Russia.
The installation of a new regime in Kiev also sparked large-scale protests in the country’s east and south, with dozens of activists and high-profile political figures intimidated, jailed, murdered or disappeared for their opposition to the new government in places including Odessa, Kharkov and Nikolaev. Nowhere was opposition to the Maidan stronger than the Donbass, a major historic industrial and coal-mining region whose electorate consistently supported pro-Russian forces. In the spring of 2014, Kiev sent the military to try to crush the Donbass rebellion, giving rise to militia movements which fought back, leading to a civil conflict which continues to this day.