Ukraine has been an independent republic since 1991. Until then it was part of the Soviet Union. Cradle of Russian culture, today Kiev, the capital, represents a divided country, in which national identity, strongly felt in the west, is diluted in the east, where a sensitivity closer to Moscow prevails. The same use of the Ukrainian language is more widespread in the west, while in the east and south people prefer to express themselves in Russian.
In the aftermath of a street revolution (Kiev, February 2014) culminating in the ouster of then President Yanukovyč, which foreshadowed a different relationship with the large eastern neighbor, some Russian-speaking regions, namely Crimea and the border territory of Donbass (capital Donetsk) declared secession. In reaction to this unilateral act, Crimea was quickly annexed by Russia, in an act considered illegal by the government in Kiev, although confirmed by a regional referendum.
In the East, however, a conflict that has been dragging on for years has begun in which the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed militiamen are confronted. It has caused several thousand victims and has carved a furrow of incomprehension and hostility between the two major Orthodox nations. The clashes have also contributed to poisoning the international climate, leading to the imposition of sanctions on Russia by the West and the partial diplomatic isolation of Moscow.
Despite the fact that, after initial attention from the international media, the war in Ukraine has entered a "cone of shadow", in reality, fighting and dying continue. It is a low-intensity conflict that nevertheless shows no sign of ending and claims victims on a daily basis.