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The War in Ukraine — Crimea and the Donbas

A guide to better understanding the current crisis


The conflict in Eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region has been ongoing since 2014. Breakaway regions called the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, which are not recognized by the vast majority of the international community, were established with Russian backing in the Donbas and have waged an ongoing war with Ukrainian government forces that have resulted in the deaths of more than 14,000 people. The status of these breakaway republics and the ongoing military conflict acted as cover for Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. For an overview of the conflict in the Donbas, see:

Crisis Group. “Conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas: A Visual Explainer,” June 29, 2021.

Crimea, a strategically important peninsula in the Black Sea, was invaded and annexed by Russia in 2014. A concise historical profile of Crimea can be found at:  

BBC News. “Crimea Profile,” January 17, 2018, sec. Europe.