February 20 is not only the anniversary of the Maidan killings. On this very day four years ago, the Kremlin launched its operation to annex the Ukrainian Crimea. No matter what Russian officials may say about the "will of the people" and "referendum" the fact remains: the territory was captured as a result of the military operation. Russian troops were even rewarded with medals for taking part in it. Crimea seemed to have inebriated Russian leaders, pushing them toward delirious ides of creating "Novorossiya" in eastern Ukraine, thus giving start to the invasion of Donbas, which has so far claimed more than 10,000 Ukrainian lives. It was February 20, 2014, that was the point of no return in Ukraine-Russia relations. It would be safe to call this date the day of Russian betrayal of Ukraine and Ukrainians.

It is curious that among the Russian fanatics and supporters of the idea of Russia's greatness at their neighbors' expense, not everyone is satisfied with Putin. Their main problem with their long-ruling president is his indecisiveness. In their opinion after the triumphant seizure of Crimea, the Russian leader had to go all the way and "crush the 'Banderites'" together with the state of Ukraine, capturing all of its major cities. Lviv is an exception, though. Perceiving it as the center of Ukrainian identity, Russians believe its residents cannot be "fixed". This incidentally proves that the Ukrainian language can, in fact, serve as protection against Russian bullets, since Ukrainian speakers somehow become alien to Russian "brothers", standing aside, beyond the "one people" logic. So, the part of the Russian society professing the "Crimea is not enough" religion has been very unhappy with the Minsk agreements, which, despite being a real burden on Ukraine, gave it an opportunity to catch breath and, perhaps, allowed preserving the Ukrainian state as such. It is not a common thing to talk about this publicly, but in private conversations, the idea constantly arose that Ukraine should have either been left alone or, if a decision was made to deploy the army, this had to be done with all Russian brazenness. Russian soldiers from the first wave of invasion in 2014, are viewing the latest developments only as a betrayal. After all, they had been killing Ukrainians for the sake of "great Russia" and for a "single country", not for redistribution of Soviet-era factories and anthracite flows by gang leaders from the occupied territories.

It was February 20, 2014, that was the point of no return in Ukraine-Russia relations. It would be safe to call this date the day of Russian betrayal of Ukraine and Ukrainians

Russia has also betrayed the adepts of the "Russian world" in the east of Ukraine. It is no secret that there was (and of course, still is) pro-Russian population in our country, and it was these people who served as a kind of an invisible link bonding the two states politically. It was these people, fooled by the Russian TV, who took to the streets after the Maidan victory, frightening each other with boogey-tales of "Banderytes" and horrors of same-sex marriage. It was them who were crying out to Putin to introduce Russian troops. And so came Girkin and Borodai, who, with the help of the Russian regular troops ("on vacation", of course) and Russian mercenaries, tore parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions off Ukraine's body. Some locals actually wanted Donbas to become part of Russia, and the Kremlin took advantage of this fact – by stealing Ukraine from all of the region's residents. The occupied Donbas has changed its status: from once being of Ukraine's wealthiest and most influential regions, and plunged down to becoming an unstable gray zone. The Kremlin cannot integrate the region into the Russian Federation, but neither is it willing to let it go. Moscow yearns for "geopolitical grandeur," but in practice, it only managed to deprive the occupied Donbas population of the benefits of civilization: ATMs, mobile communications, airports, quality healthcare, and justice, also replacing freedom of movement with curfews and humiliating checks at roadblocks and checkpoints within people's own country.

Russia has also betrayed the adepts of the "Russian world" in the east of Ukraine

One can reflect a lot over why Ukraine at times fails to take better care of its citizens, but counting on "polite people" to come and solve all problems would be stupid and dangerous. This "uncle" has been taking self-affirmative steps, trying in vain to solve his own psychological problems, and not caring at all about the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine. Actually, in his view, they're good for one thing: it's always better to hide behind their backs.

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow