Last week, Russian President made an argument that parts of eastern and southern Ukraine are part of “Novorussia,” an area gradually conquered by Russia in the late 18th century and made part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union, in 1922.
“It’s new Russia. Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows,” Putin told reporters. “Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there — we need to encourage them to find a solution.”
Basically, Putin wants those regions of Ukraine where ethnic Russians live to be in the Kremlin’s orbit after a popular revolution toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and a West-leaning government was formed.
Currently, pro-Russia separatists who are suspected of being led by Russian special forces have commandeered several towns in these regions. Ukrainian authorities have killed at least two militants in an effort to reclaim a town in Donestsk, prompting Russia to ramp up military exercises on the border.
If tensions continue to escalate, expect more talk of “Novorussia” as Putin continues to insist that he has the right to intervene militarily in east Ukraine to protect the ethnic Russians.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.