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A glossary of 32 words, phrases, people and places you should probably know when following Ukraine’s crisis

Okay. The crisis in Ukraine has been going on for a while now, and things have gotten a little confusing. Whether you are a newcomer to the crisis and you want to catch up, or you have been following the situation for the past few months, we figured a quick glossary of the words, phrases, people and places involved would be appreciated.

For more on Ukraine’s crisis, check out our Q+A from January, our history of Crimea and our 486-word rundown of recent events.

  • Anti-protest laws: Measures Viktor Yanukovych passed Jan. 16 designed to limit protests. Dubbed the “Dictatorship Laws” by protesters, they led to a new level of violence in the Euromaidan protests and were repealed by parliament two weeks later.
  • Berkut: Descended from an elite force in Soviet times, the Berkut were riot police who operated under the Interior Ministry. At the center of much of the violence with Euromaidan protesters, they were disbanded on February 26. There have been reports that Russia is giving out passports to ex-Berkut officers.
  • Black Sea Fleet: A Russian naval unit based in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol in Crimea. It’s not a particularly powerful force. It consists of an aging guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva; a large, dated anti-submarine warfare cruiser; a destroyer; two frigates; landing ships; and a diesel-powered attack submarine. Yanukovych and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reached a deal to extend the lease on facilities in Crimea until 2042 in exchange for a discounted deal for natural gas.
  • The Budapest Memorandum: An agreement in 1994 that saw Russia, the United States and Great Britain agree to recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine in exchange for it giving up its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin suggests now that this agreement is void, as Ukraine is no longer the same state it was in 1994.
  • Crimea: A peninsula jutting into the northern tip of the Black Sea. This strategically-located region has been  fought over many times over the course of its complicated history. Long a part of Russia, it was given to Ukraine in 1954 and, despite an ethnic Russian majority, a post-Soviet independence movement and a good dose of autonomy, it is still technically Ukrainian. However, for the past few days, what some say are Russian soldiers (and others say are armed militia) have been on the peninsula, surrounding Ukrainian military bases. They, and some of Crimea’s residents, say the region rejects the post-Maidan government and wants to become part of Russia.
  • Crimean War: A three-year war that started in 1853 and ended up with Russia keeping Crimea even though it lost the war. Russia fought an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia over disputes involving the Middle East and religion. It’s widely considered the beginning of modern warfare.
  • Crimean Tatars: A Sunni Muslim, Turkic ethnic group that has been in Crimea since before it became part of Russia. Notably, the entire population was deported  to Central Asia as punishment for collaboration with German forces during World War II. Since 1991, they have been coming back in droves: By Ukraine’s last census in 2001, they were said to make up 12 percent of the population. As you might imagine, they are said to be anti-Russian and largely supportive of the Euromaidan protests. NB: It's Tatar, not Tartar.
  • The demographic split: To put this very simply, thanks to a complicated history, Ukraine can broadly be split between a Ukrainian-speaking West that opposed Yanukovych, and a Russian-speaking East that supported him. Some have argued that this is an oversimplification (most things are), but it does still seem to hold weight.
  • Euromaidan: The name given to the anti-government protests that began on Nov. 21, 2013, and eventually led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych. The name comes from the hopes of further European integration many had, and the name of their central Kiev location, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
  • “The family”: The name given to Viktor Yanukovych’s immediate family and other associates who are said to have enriched themselves through corruption and nepotism.
  • “Fascists”: Both Russia’s foreign ministry and Yanukovych have linked “fascist” elements to the Euromaidan protests. There is some truth to this – far-right Ukrainian nationalist groups, such as Svoboda or Pravy Sektor, have been a part of the protests. Maidan supporters, however, dispute the idea that the protests are at all dominated by these groups, and critics have accused the Kremlin of playing “political football” with (the very real threat) of antisemitism in Ukraine.

Read the rest here. 

washingtonpost.com
Russian Parliament Ratifies New START Treaty with U.S.

MOSCOW — Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday ratified a landmark nuclear arms pact with the United States, virtually assuring passage of an agreement President Barack Obama has described as the most significant arms control deal in nearly two decades.

The State Duma voted 350-96 with one abstention to pass a bill to ratify the New START treaty, which was approved by the U.S. Senate late last year. The treaty will now go to the upper house for final approval.

The New START would limit each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200 and also re-establish a system for monitoring that ended in December 2009 with the expiration of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush…