Russian forces have invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea, sending planes, helicopters and a warship, provoking what some are calling the worst European crisis of the 21st century.
If you haven't been following the story, here's a rundown. In November of last year, Ukrainian protesters took to the streets of Kiev, demanding the removal of then president Viktor Yanukovych. The democratically-elected leader, who lived a lavish lifestyle while much of the population struggled to survive, was accused of corruption and cronyism, as well as playing to the demands of Russia. Demonstrators believed that closer ties to Europe would lead to more transparent government and great personal freedoms, and when Yanukovych killed a trade deal with the E.U., hundreds of thousands set up camp in Maidan Square.
The increasingly-violent protests continued for several months and about 100 people lost their lives in the upheaval. Plenty of others were hurt, tortured and went missing. Yanukovych, losing his grip on the situation, approved the use of brute force against demonstrators. On February 21, Yanukovych fled Kiev after having his powers stripped from him by opposition leaders. The following day the parliament voted to remove him from his office and former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko was freed from prison. Elections for a new leader are slated for May 25.
However, many citizens in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine support ties with Russia and conflict has erupted in these regions, particularly in Crimea, which is a Russian-speaking peninsula with a Russian naval base.
On March 2, after various pro-Russia protests at the seizures of government buildings and airports in the region, Putin sent in planes, helicopters, hundreds of troops, as well as a warship to block the Ukrainian coast guard.
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