Following the Euromaidan protests of November, 2013 and the subsequent ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, unrest has gripped regions of eastern Ukraine. Separatist uprisings have become popular in communities that consider themselves ethnically and culturally Russian, and feel disenfranchised by the new Ukrainian government and its cultivation of closer European ties. Many pro-Russian separatists regard Euromaidan as a western-engineered coup. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, critics of the separatist movement say the rebel uprising was initiated by Russia as a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine, citing evidence of Russian soldiers within the ranks of separatist fighters and numerous incursions along Ukraine’s eastern border. Fighting between rebels and government forces has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, and a tense diplomatic standoff between Ukraine, Russia, and western nations.