Ukraine is fighting to save its young democracy—militarily against Russian-backed forces in the East, and politically, economically and socially against corruption and power struggles everywhere. Ukraine’s democratic development depends in part on its ability to maintain unity. That means healing the divides between East and West, especially in the face of the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and the subsequent incursion into the Donbass region. The U.S. Institute of Peace raises awareness of the issues in U.S. policy circles and supports Ukrainians in strengthening the bonds between citizens forced to flee the fighting in the East and their host communities in the West.
Over 35 million Ukrainians are eligible to choose their next president on March 31. However, several million voters in Russia-annexed Crimea and rebel-held parts of east Ukraine will not be able to vote, demonstrating how the conflict with Moscow looms large over these elections.
Five years after Russian forces took Crimea from Ukraine, the international community is still struggling with how to respond to a major power seizing another country’s territory for the first time since World War II and the founding of the United Nations, a senior State Department official said.
On the five-year anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Amb. Taylor—a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine—explains why it has been so difficult for Ukraine and its allies to oust Russia from the Ukrainian territory. “Sadly … the people of Crimea are worse off than they were five years ago,” while the West continues to struggle with how to respond to Moscow’s territorial grab.