Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, former Soviet republic Ukraine has struggled against its "giant neighbor to the north"—Russia— to maintain its sovereignty. In early 2014 tensions turned to conflict as Vladimir Putin, determined to keep Ukraine from forging stronger ties with the West, seized Crimea and fomented conflict in eastern Ukraine. In the latest Brookings essay, Chrystia Freeland, a former Ukrainian-based reporter with strong family ties to the country, offers a personal reflection on the conflict and the sentiment of the Ukrainian people. She highlights the fact that despite historic, cultural, and linguistic ties between the two countries, Ukrainians stand defiant in their desire for independence.
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