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You're reading: Tatiana Vorozhko: Who exactly does Putin’s Russia claim to defend?

“Millions of Russian people, Russian-speaking citizens live and will live in Ukraine, and Russia will always defend their interests with political, diplomatic and legal means,” announced Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 18 in his Kremlin address making his case for annexing Crimea.  

The rights of Russians in Ukraine are not being violated. It is simply impossible to persecute somebody based on language or
ethnicity when both characteristic are fluid, self-defined and over-represented
as they happen to be in modern Ukraine.

Unlike Ukrainian communities in the United States, or many ethnic
diaspora around the world, Russians in Ukraine don’t live in clusters and don’t
differ in their customs from the rest of the population

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