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March 19, 2014

Russia moves closer to formally annexing Crimea

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This week a peninsula in eastern Europe’s Black Sea about the size of the state of Massachusetts switched countries, breaking from Ukraine and aligning with Russia. Crimeans voted March 16 to join Russia and on March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a fiery speech and signed a treaty adding Crimea to the map of Russia.

“Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia. Both time and circumstances could not erase it. Dramatic changes that our country went through in the 20th century could not erase it either,” he said.

Most Crimeans seemed overjoyed by Putin’s swift move to incorporate the peninsula into Russia.

“We are incredibly grateful that this day of victory has arrived, and we have been freed from occupation,” said one Crimean woman in the capital, Simferopol. “Now we are citizens of our own country, Russia.”

In the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the Putin speech sparked a decidedly different reaction from the new president of Ukraine.

“I would like to remind you of the history: World War II started with the annexation of the territory of other countries by fascist Germany,” said Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting president. “Today, the president of Russia, Mr. Putin, who likes to talk about fascism, is copying the fascists of the last century.”

The move has drawn condemnation around the world, and international leaders have moved to punish Russia through sanctions, and have suspended Russia from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations.


Warm up questions
  1. Where are Ukraine, Crimea and Russia?
  2. Who is Vladimir Putin?
  3. What does it mean to annex a country?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. What type of consequences will Russia face once it officially annexes Crimea?
  2. How are western countries like the U.S. and Great Britain reacting to these events?
  3. How is the president of Ukraine reacting to Russia’s move to annex the Crimean peninsula?
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