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This article will appear in the forthcoming Winter 2022/23 issue of The Independent Review.

In the aftermath of Ukraine’s declaration of independence on August 24, 1991, the Yeltsin administration issued a statement claiming Russia’s right to raise territorial issues with ex-Soviet countries with substantial Russian minorities, including southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine, and northern Kazakhstan (Solchanyk 1996; Subtelny 2009; Plokhy 2017). That statement started the first serious political conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the post-Soviet period. The Russian parliament dispatched a delegation to Kyiv, chaired by Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. The Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) rejected the delegation’s offer to join a new union of ex-Soviet states by asserting the right of self-determination for the people of Ukraine.