The world has paid little attention to Crimea since then, but developments on the Black Sea peninsula provide fearsome insights into both the folly of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, in Ukraine and his campaign of intimidation against Russia’s near neighbors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a formidable communications challenge because of the need to maintain domestic support for his actions in Ukraine - both among the elite and in society at large - while also trying to prevent the emergence of a more unified Western response to his policies.
PM Aksyonov insists the annexation of Crimea was democratic and "not an act of aggression"
Russia was ready to bring its nuclear weapons into a state of alert during last year's tensions over the Crimean Peninsula and the overthrow of Ukraine's president, President Vladimir Putin said in remarks aired on Sunday.
And that's sort of the point — this conflict serves as a case study in the effectiveness of shadowy, "hybrid" warfare, which is hard to understand from the outside.
A Russian newspaper claims to have an official government strategy document outlining the invasion of Ukraine that was prepared weeks before the Ukrainian government collapsed last year.
Since the Soviet collapse - as Moscow had feared - alliance has spread eastward, expanding along a line from Estonia in the north to Romania and Bulgaria in the south. The Kremlin claims it had Western assurances that would not happen.
It has been clear since the initial conquest of Crimea and the Donbass that the next phase would be the establishment of a land corridor through southern Ukraine to Crimea.
Efforts to secure some kind of peace deal between Moscow and Kiev - and not just a temporary ceasefire that preserves a frozen conflict - continue.