Axios Late Night Update on Russia-Ukraine

The latest:
How we got here:
  • The crisis in eastern Ukraine escalated drastically on Feb. 21 when Putin recognized two pro-Russian separatist “republics” and sent Russian “peacekeepers” to the territories.
  • Ukraine has been battling Russian-backed separatists in the east since 2014, when Russia also occupied and annexed the Crimean Peninsula. U.S. officials began warning in November that Putin could be planning another incursion, possibly to topple the pro-Western government in Kyiv.
  • The U.S. and its European allies had met with Russian officials in a variety of settings to try to build a diplomatic off-ramp, while also warning that an invasion could be imminent.
  • Russia had issued a series of demands, including a legal guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO. At the same time, Putin amassed more than 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders and conducted unprecedented military drills — preparing the option to take military action if Russia didn’t secure the concessions it was seeking.

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