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After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin apparently forgot to claim it back, so Ukraine kept a territory in which nearly 60 percent of the 2 million inhabitants identify as Russians.In the last 20 years, Russia has sought to retake the peninsula.The seemingly spontaneous resolve of some Crimean Russians to rejoin Mother Russia is allowing Putin to wipe some of the egg off his face.So the big question now is whether Putin will seize on the restiveness of Russians in Crimea (and eastern Ukrainian cities such as Kharkiv) to recover parts of former Soviet territory, as he did with Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions after the 2008 war.Voting with Russia against the West to keep Assad in power does not make the world's most populous country a reliable partner. If China concludes that its geopolitical interests, particularly in dealing with the United States, would be best served by detaching itself from Putin, it will not hesitate to do so.
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