While Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to lionize Vladimir Putin, the bloody conflict in Ukraine that the Russian president helped instigate shows no signs of letting up.
The seeds of unrest in that region were sown back in 2013, when a trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union—which Russia opposed—went sour. As Ukraine’s political machinery buckled under domestic and geopolitical pressures, Putin saw an opportunity. In early 2014, Russian troops seized the Crimean peninsula, which has been part of Ukraine since 1954, but has deep historical ties to Russia. A referendum was held, in which Crimea overwhelmingly voted to re-join Russia. Since then, the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine has been embroiled in chaos, with Russian-backed separatists battling the Ukrainian government for control of land and infrastructure. Around 30,729 have died in this conflict since it began, the UN estimates.