Ukraine has been battling Russian aggression in Crimea and the Donbas region ever since while striving to build up its democratic institutions and pursuing Euro-Atlantic integration. In Budapest, the US Embassy has joined the Canadian, Dutch, German and Ukrainian Embassies to launch Focus on Ukraine 2019 with a screening of a documentary, "Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine."

Following opening remarks from US Chargé d'Affaires David Kostelancik and Ukrainian Ambassador Liubov Nepop, a full house watched the critically acclaimed film – a joint project of American film director Mark Jonathan Harris and Ukrainian film director Oles Sanin – which shows how the Maidan Revolution of 2014 and its aftermath shaped the lives of ordinary Ukrainians and the future of the nation.

# Ukrainian Ambassador Liubov Nepop and US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires David Kostelancik (photo courtesy of the United States Embassy)

Just days after the Maidan Revolution led to the toppling of Ukraine's corrupt president, the country was invaded by Russia. Ukrainians of all backgrounds rallied to the country's defence, creating a new sense of Ukrainian nationhood in the process. The film depicts these turbulent events, at times heroic, at times tragic, through the eyes of people who lived them – a doctor, a soldier, a children's theatre director, a rabbi and an investigative reporter.

The documentary follows the characters as they struggle to defeat the Russians and remake their own government. The outcome affects more than the future of Ukraine. As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum says: "Ukraine has become a piece of a bigger struggle about the future of democracy. Can democracy even survive into the 21st century?"

The United Nations' estimated death toll includes 3321 civilians, among them the 298 passengers and crew members who died when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A Dutch-led international investigation concluded that the jet was struck by a Buk missile from a Russian system that had been brought from Russia into separatist-held territory in Ukraine and later returned to Russia.

The estimated death toll also includes 4000 members of the Ukrainian forces and 5500 "armed groups," according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

# Ambassador Nepop and Chargé d'Affaires David Kostelancik

Russia has also seized unilateral control of the Kerch Strait and on November 25, 2018, Russian Coast Guard vessels fired on Ukrainian naval ships in international waters in the Black Sea, damaging the vessels and wounding a handful of Ukrainian sailors. Russia then took possession of the ships and imprisoned the sailors.

In the face of limited international response, the concern in Ukraine is that Russia may believe it will face little resistance to further attacks on Ukrainian territory or territorial waters, much as it concluded in 2008 before attacking Georgia or in 2014 when pivoting from annexing Crimea to attacking the Donbas.

Watch the trailer for the film: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/breakingpoint


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