Vladimir Putin's intervention into the Georgia/South Ossetia conflict in summer 2008 was quickly recognized by Western critics as an attempt by Russia to increase its presence and power in the "near abroad", or the independent states of the former Soviet Union that Russia still regards as its wards. Though the global economic recession that began in 2008 moved the incident to the back of the world's mind, Russia surged to the forefront again six years later when they
invaded the heavily Russian Crimea in Ukraine and annexed it. In contrast to the earlier Georgia episode, this new conflict has generated a crisis of global proportions, forcing European countries to rethink their relationship with Russia and their reliance on it for energy supplies, as Russia was
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