When Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized the independence of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, known together as the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, it was yet another pivotal, wrenching moment in the long and turbulent history of the area.
Putin signed documents purportedly declaring the regions were no longer part of Ukraine after Russian-speaking separatist leaders of the regions had appealed for the declaration hours earlier.
Ukraine is the second-largest country in all of Europe, after Russia itself. But like Russia, its past is one marked by great political upheaval and a string of tragedies that have changed the makeup of its society over time.
Donbas the scene of great influx of peoples
Now home to a majority of Russian-speaking people, they moved there only in recent decades. Now, Russia has given more than 720,000 Russian passports to roughly one-fifth of the region’s population, according to The Associated Press.
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