The current crisis unfolding in Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula have deep roots that extend well before the Cold War, to a period when this region was in the control of different empires and nations. Beginning in the mid1400s, Crimea existed as a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire until Katharine the Great annexed it to Russia in 1783. Poland held control over western Ukraine until 1793, when much of modern-day Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire. At the end of World War I Ukraine declared its independence, though this was short lived as the Red Army forcibly incorporated Ukraine into the Soviet Union in 1919. Soviet leader Josef Stalin further exacerbated Ukrainian discontent with his collectivization program that killed or punished millions of peasants during the 1930s.
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