Home to the largest population — other than Russia — of the former Soviet republics, Ukraine has long stood at the crossroads of the East and the West. A major exporter of military aircraft, the country is still recovering from the economic shocks of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the 2008 financial crisis. It's the home of Sergei Bubka, the most successful male pole vaulter ever. Today, the country is in the middle of a proxy war, with Moscow-backed militia controlling parts of its eastern territory, as it decides whether to tilt toward Russia or toward the European Union.

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