10 Reasons Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Russian military vehicles on parade in 2010. Source: Alexander Kuguchin/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock.

It's now clear that Russia won't simply sit back and watch as its power slips away in neighboring Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin requested, and was granted, parliamentary approval to send troops into its former Soviet state. And sometime thereabouts, he proceeded to do so.

Why is Russia risking the condemnation of the international community by invading a country that's said to be "as poor as Paraguay and as corrupt as Iran"? Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield answers this question in the presentation below, laying out the 10 most likely reasons Russia mounted an invasion -- click here to see how the move could affect ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) .

As you'll see, the list spans demographic and historical considerations, as well as interests that are more tangible and immediate in nature -- including, among other things, access to and control over Ukraine's considerable agricultural and energy resources.

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  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 9:40 AM, ilsm50 wrote:

    NATO in Ukraine, Turks part of NATO, roll Russia's strategic situation back to 250 years.

    Latvia in NATO is one thing, Ukraine "occupied" by Germany's protectors is another.

    Then there is Camp Bonsteil.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 12:00 PM, JamesABG wrote:

    Maxfield is clueless. If that's the way he does research, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 1:39 PM, peterwolf wrote:

    You forgot #11: Because they can get away with it. When faced with the spinelessness of Obama and the European leaders, Putin would be stupid not to do it now. When will Russia likely have another chance like this, faced as they are by a solid wall of jello in the West?? It reminds me of the 'correlation of forces' that communists used to measure and access. When those once-in-a-generation 'correlations' would all come together ( weak Western leaders, growing Russian military might, etc) , the communists would unerringly exploit them. And Putin is nothing if he's not a unrepentant communist.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 2:11 PM, cvxxx wrote:

    This was so slanted as to be unfair. There are multiple reasons and the political situation in Ukraine makes it worse. The west encouraged the ouster of the president. Had it been the other way around the press would be say the same thing Russia is now,

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 2:53 PM, mbee1 wrote:

    !0 reason the US invade Panama could just have well been the headline on this trash. Not to get to into the details but the Crimea was made a part of the Ukraine when the USSR broke up and the thugs in charge were dickering about who got what. The large Russian population voted for the president of the Ukraine , the guy who was sent fleeing by a coup, something you neglect to mention. You also neglected to mention that the governor of the Crimea asked the Russians to maintain order, he was also an elected official. you also neglected to mention Putin got his legislature to go along, something Obama, Reagan, both Bushs did when they invaded another country. Apparently when the US invades everything is okay by God, God help anyone else who tries to fix something when things go wrong. A coup is not an election and you should know that.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 3:13 PM, andysbrain wrote:

    Russia is an evil empire... If allowed to conquer Ukraine, they will gain a foothold to regain their former strength. The current administration wants to " be reasonable" and get in the 21st century.. Russia and several others look at our limp wristed leaders as a joke and a sign they can do whatever they want. Putin calculatingly had the olympics before pulling this crap, so there could be no embarrassing olympic boycott..The Ukraine is the only way Russia can ever rise to its former position of power.. Once they regain power, their lust for power will sooner or later become a grave threat to the U.S. and its allies..Recreating the same scenario Obama and hs administration have forgotten appearently. This is the same country my parents had to hide under thier school desks from, while pretend nuclear holocaust was practiced over and over in Americas schools. Our President is not wholly at fault though.. We by our own free will chose him, and his polices as how we want our country run. A countries leaders represent the country itself. Hopefully his actions wont set in motion a chain of curcumstances that lead to our demise...

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 3:57 PM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    because CZAR putin/hitler wants too.

    The Weak west will Not stop Czar putin/hitler .Czar putin controls the needs of Europe that is why EU and GB will Waffle in their Support to the US see it's the same as Syria.

    Sanctions will not work CZAR Putin has too many allies who despise the US because of the EVIL NSa, .

    CZAR putin has allies like INDIA, Israel , serbia, Iran,China, Iraq, Japan who will Need his Gas and Oil.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 5:20 PM, ksero wrote:

    Reason No 11: URANIUM

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 2:38 PM, mtracy9 wrote:

    Boy George Bush said that

    he looked Putin in the eye and

    that he could trust him. Of course,

    Bush also liked to invade other


  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 2:47 PM, Brinkley1 wrote:

    The Motley Fool should stay away political articles and stick to investment articles. Sure there may be some overlap but in this looks more political.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 4:57 PM, standwick45 wrote:

    Agree with Brinkley1: This is an offensively simplistic analysis.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 5:10 PM, vsop wrote:

    Also agree with Brinkley1 - TMF should stick to investment articles. That is where its strength is.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 5:52 PM, rubycon1 wrote:

    Agree with Brinkley. I would like to know in which way this slideshare contributes to a solution, instead of reasons take one sided view.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 6:32 PM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    I actually like this piece a lot. It's a little Buzzfeedy, but it's basically on point as to what Russia's motivations are. Issues about who caused what in Ukraine are irrelevant. The fact, without the ten reasons articulated here, Russia would not care what happened to Ukraine and Crimea. Well-condensed, John.

    Personally, I think we should let Russia have Crimea, let them have their naval base. The western ally will still have the soil, will still have the pipelines, etc. Keeping Crimea, which has been partially independent for years, and which is majority-Russian, just raises the chances for more future conflict in Ukraine. I don't see the huge loss in letting Russia keep Crimea, either for the rest of Ukraine or for the West, if the trade-off is that the rest of Ukraine one day ends up in the EU or in NATO, which is vastly less likely to happen under the status quo.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 6:36 PM, lostindubai wrote:

    And that's how media escalates these situations.


    There are some Russian military bases in Crimea.

    Did we invade South Korea? There is a US Military base right smack in the middle of Seoul.

    Seriously, people.

    Lets just step back and learn from past mistakes, like WMDs in Iraq. Fact check before posting these headlines. Regardless of Putin's reasons, let's just hope everyone does the right thing.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 6:50 PM, GetMeTheBigKnife wrote:

    Reason #11:

    His national hockey team failed to make it to the semi-finals at the Sochi Olympics... the home team!

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 6:55 PM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    lostindubai has a fair point. Russia has had troops stationed in Crimea by treaty for some time. It's unclear to me whether Russia actually sent additional troops, or whether the troops just came out of their basis. I think the headline is a bit of a cheap eye-ball-drawer, but substantively, this is spot-on about why Russia gives a hoot about Crimea.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 7:02 PM, lostindubai wrote:

    The headline is inflammatory. We deserve better from the media.

    It looked to me like they were guarding their base. Nobody needs another Iraq, or Arab Spring for that matter.

    Now its "Russians are invading....."

    Reporters should be more responsible.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 7:07 PM, lostindubai wrote:

    And spare me some stock photos of Russian tanks on parade IN MOSCOW, rolling down the street. What would people think? Oh, wait, there is a small caption "2010".

    What does have to do with the tragic situation in Ukraine?

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 7:12 PM, malclave wrote:

    Obviously, the problem is that Hillary misspelled "reset" 5 years ago and gave the Russians an "overcharge" button.

    If we had actually given Russia a "reset button", that would have solved everything. Smart power and all that.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 7:49 PM, PatCampbell wrote:

    The Crimea is essential for the Russian navy. They needed to protect this asset. Its basically, more like Puget Sound to the Russians rather Guantamamo. When you get negative trending social unrest endangering a major power there is bound to be a reaction.

    About 20 years ago Ukrainian refugees flocked to the US. Why? Because the Orthodox Church placed the non-orthodox believers lives under death threats. You don't leave your home, culture, and language for nothing.

    This isn't a simple black and white issue as our government is making it out to be ... except for the Russians needing their strategic assets secured.

    - Former GI stationed in Turkey during Cold War

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 10:01 PM, BeliaR wrote:

    @ andysbrain

    What do u eat?

    What about Crimea.

    It became russian peninsula in 1779 and was gifted to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. The main reason why he did it, some experts think, is that he needed electorate in face of Ukraine. The other reason that he was so proUkraine (as Lenin was) that decided to gift Crimea.

    Ukraine, also known as MaloRossiya (means

    "Small Russia" and was called so before word "Ukraine" was designed) is really just another Russia but with other name. Why it was created i dont know. But in last 20 years of its independency it has 4 presidents and all was VERY poor. So today u can see what can a country become if it is governed by thieves...

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 10:43 PM, TheBard wrote:

    Georgia is not an innocent little democracy-movement. Sure, Georgia blossomed into a new type of political cronyism, with the Rose Revolution, and spawned a Tbilisi-born native son to become Georgia's president---Mikhail Saakashvili; but Saakashvili was a failure of the American-bred democray movement in Georgia. The Columbia University graduate, attended George Washington University and interned for the New York Law firm of, Patterson, Belkamp, Webb, and Tyler. Saakashvilli who has strong ties with some of those "think tanks" of Washington, also had John McCain on the dole.

    During John McCain's presidential bid McCain made a puzzling claim ."Today, we are all Georgians," McCain said. This ridiculous statement stemmed from the cozy connection that the McCain campaign had with a shadowy Georgian lobbyist. At that time, McCain (And even Sarah Palin) wanted the U.S. to go to war with Russia.

    Georgia had been lobbying John McCain and other U. S. leaders. John McCain had been taking junkets to Georgia. The Georgian president, Makhail Saakasvili felt emboldened, and started a confrontation between Georgia and South Ossetia. The United States never did send in the Calvary, and in effect, Georgia's mortar attack upon South Ossetia, ought to be recognized as McCain's "Bay of Pigs".

    Earlier still, in 2005, George W. Bush made a visit to Georgia. At that time, Bush praised all the various color, flower, tree revolutions that were mysteriously occurring. Bush Spoke about the democracy movements that were taking place. "........from Riga to Bishkek."

    "From Riga to Bishkek," implicates the United States in the instigation of those not-so-autonomous democracy movements. There are suitcases of U. S. Dollars being delivered secretly to "opposition leaders".

    Why is the United States so interested in taking control of the former Soviet Republics? What is happening in the Ukraine is a history of fairly recent money laundering----A covert use of American tax dollars. These democracy movement names might as well be thought up on Madison Avenue. The Orange, the Pink, the Tulip, the Rose----Yeah, Even the Cedar----And the Arab Spring, have all been sold to a gullible American public.

    No---- The Russians DID NOT---for no reason, invade Georgia! With an epic repeat of the Bay of Pigs, Mikhail Saakasvili and Georgia fired the first shots into South Osettia, believing that John McCain would rally the United States, to start a war with Russia. For McCain, this was all done to produce theater in the 2008 election campaign. But one wonders why would we need an opportunity to put America's nose where America's nose does not belong?

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 12:54 AM, dawn711 wrote:

    I have spent a great deal of time in Russia and have many colleagues and friends in the country.

    I currently live and work in the Middle East, including some time in IRAQ.

    I have seen first hand the effects of American foreign policy.

    I have been witness to improvements in the average Russians standard of living in the last 20 years.

    Vladimir Putin is respected as a strong and capable leader by most of the Russian population for one simple reason. Their lives are better today than they were 20 years ago.

    Any good leader protects his people from threats foreign and domestic. Putin is not doing anything that would not or should not be done by any other leader in his position. And, he is doing it with more deliberate consideration than I have seen from some other countries leaders in the past few years.

    You want a more balanced understanding of the situation watch RT news, BBC and CNN. Each has a different slant. Putting them all together still gives you only part of the story.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 1:12 AM, JadedFoolalex wrote:

    I guess Planetcatcher has been drinking the Soviet kool-aid. The Ukraine has been in existance since 988 A.D. The University of Kiev was founded in that year and Ukrainian culture (music, arts, poetry and prose) spread from there throughout what is now called Russia. (The University of Moscow was founded in 1766 in case your wondering!) While the Ukraine was occuppied by the Soviets (and it was an occupation), they moved ethnic Russians into the Ukraine and nearby areas such as Crimea and Belarus to further their program to remove, diminish and dilute the Ukrainian culture. They failed and now that (Ras)Putin wants a powerful Neo-Soviet block to counter the rising North American block, he needs the Ukraine and it's resources to do it. What more do you need to know?

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 1:28 AM, fomin wrote:

    to andsbrain


    What people call now the THE UKRAINE is KIEV RUSS i.e. Kiev Russia. You believe it is fair to engineer a coup and protect Russ from Russia. My dear friend - do your homework sometime and use your brain.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 5:25 AM, charleroi6040 wrote:

    since crimea is full with russian ethnic and ukraine need lot of money wy not sell crimea to russia at least ukraine will get some thing out of this mess because crimea is already lost and ukraine is broke.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 5:55 AM, saltydog91 wrote:

    really? is mf now in the poli sci business? 1 expert or many, this has degraded to a forum to just vent politics - and since mf ( and others ) do not have an investment leg or advisory notice in the "ukraine" game, whats the pt? how far back does a human need to go to declare the roots of civilization? how pedestrian. u are either on 1 side of the fence or t'other eg. get devoured or devour. thats human nature - look it up.


  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:47 AM, bcellars wrote:

    Thankfully the comments have more common sense and truth than the nearly useless slidecast. Russia has added forces in Crimea in order to support the local population from any potential actions by the illegitimate new government in Kiev. It's that simple. I am here now on holidays and it is very peaceful and they will have a referendum soon so that the voice of the people can be heard.

    Kiev of course doesn't accept the referendum but Crimea was already an autonomous region. Overthrowing an elected government by force is certainly unacceptable by democratic principles so it is surprising that the west is so supportive of the new government.

    Gas from Russia will flow to Europe regardless of who is in power in Ukraine and Exxon is in partnership with a Russian company for further exploration in the region.

    Russia's action has simply been to prevent a problem. UN actions are always too little too late, and let's not forget the US invasion of Iraq. The west and the new government in Kiev are blowing things way out of proportion. The people want peace, a better life, and the freedom for their children to study in the language of their choice. And that's not too much to ask for.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:55 AM, BeliaR wrote:

    @ JadedFoolalex

    1. I didn't say there wasn't ever such a word as "Ukraine"

    2. I didn't say anything about word "Kiev".

    3. What was in existance since 988 A.D. is Kievan Rus

    4. We can assume that today Russia began from Kiev. Who knows?

    Also u need learn such science as word etymology that says the following:

    name "Ukraine" is derived from the Old Russian word "oukraina", "border area", which initially applied to different land border of Russia and Old Russian princedom.

    What about second part of your message? It's like crazy man talk)) Sorry))

    And what do u read?

    Read real history books. Not some conspirology ravings.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 7:55 AM, BeliaR wrote:

    @ JadedFoolalex

    1. I didn't say there wasn't ever such a word as "Ukraine"

    2. I didn't say anything about word "Kiev".

    3. What was in existance since 988 A.D. is Kievan Rus

    4. We can assume that today Russia began from Kiev. Who knows?

    Also u need learn such science as word etymology that says the following:

    name "Ukraine" is derived from the Old Russian word "oukraina", "border area", which initially applied to different land border of Russia and Old Russian princedom.

    What about second part of your message? It's like crazy man talk)) Sorry))

    And what do u read?

    Read real history books. Not some conspirology ravings.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:20 AM, lostindubai wrote:

    It is awesome to read all these comments - people are still capable of thinking for themselves and and not buying into sensational headlines.

    One small point. To the person who called Putin "Hitler". Putin may be many things, but comparing him to the mastermind of the holocaust is just ridiculous!

    There are multiple reports coming out of Kiev that a large part of that movement in Kiev were Neo Nazists with antisemitic agenda. There were historically strong Antisemitism in Western Ukraine, as well as many Nazi supporters during WWII.

    I find that remark deeply inappropriate.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 8:38 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Not that I'm supporting Russia it wan't an invasion in the true sense of the word. Most of the troops were already in Crimea (Russia has a large naval base there).

    That being said Russia "invaded" Ukraine because Putin is a bully and thought he could get away w/ it (the flecklessness and weakness of the current adminstration is very apparent). Most of the situation could have been avoided if the U.S. had a better energy policy regarding crude oil and LNG exports to Europe and Putin's leverage over Europe would be gone.

    And I've seen way too comments here and elsewhere about the "coup" and "overthrow" of the Ukrainian government -- the people didn't LIKE their government and kicked them out. Get over it !!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:08 AM, divybuy wrote:

    Stick to finance, politics is not your game.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 10:53 AM, hudsondusters wrote:

    A lot of sock puppets posting here.

    Don't forget there'd be more Tatars in Crimea but for the fact USSR forcibly removed them. They only moved back after the collapse of the USSR. And probably, given birthrates, they'll outnumber Russians again in 30 years or so on the peninsula.

    Having majority Russians in this enclave doesn't give Russia the right to invade. Same excuse Hitler used to first take the Sudetenland (with Chamberlain's ok) and then invade Czechoslovakia anyway. Crimea is an autonomous republic but part of the Ukraine. This is by treaty. And yes Russia has military bases there, by agreement.

    And sure, Yanukovych was democratically elected (again, so was Hitler). But he fled after a popular uprising (at least in Kiev and other areas) and fled.

    Arguing that Bush did x, or that Crimea is 59% ethnic Russian, are not legitimate arguments. Sure, ultimately, by plebiscite or some such, Crimea may wish to become Russian, or independent of Ukraine (doubt the non-russians there will like that either), but merely invading because of some trumped up fear for ethnic Russians (there's no indication they were being discriminated against) isn't justified.

    Doesn't matter though. Fact is they are there and have a larger military.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 11:08 AM, observerbob2013 wrote:

    The fact is that a government was overthrown not by democratic voting but by force.

    It would seem clear that the people of Crimea want Russia and voted for the overthrown government.

    If it was a Russian mob that deposed an elected pro-western government the US would be screaming just as loud in the opposite direction.

    Fact is democracy is a real pain, real people actually want something different to what the west wants sometimes and it is about time the US understands that democracy means you can make up your own mind

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 12:09 PM, BeliaR wrote:

    @ hudsondusters

    Crimea was conquered by Russia in eighteen century (about 177x) and russians did nothing bad to them.

    Nobody made slaves of them as America did with black people or cut them out as America did to Indians. Yes, they were deported, but there were reasons.

    1. Mass desertion of crimean tatars from the Red Army in 1941

    2. Active participation of crimean tatars in the formations of the german army

    3. Before war. Constant collisions between russians and crimean tatars

    And, on top of all that, it was the epoch of great conquests.

    And what do u mean by "invade"?

    The only place where it "invaded" is Crimea. The only 2 reasons are:

    1. Support people in their will to establish legitimate power.

    2. Protect military base, if anything. For the time there's no legitimate government. It is very reasonable deed. Nothing special. And nobody was killed by any russian army man.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 12:26 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    @observerbob: Your statement "The fact is that a government was overthrown not by democratic voting but by force." could also apply to the creation of our own country. Don't fool yourself -- the former Ukrainian government was not well liked by most citizens (and it wasn't very democratic in spite of being "elected" -- Putin was elected, Stalin was elected, Castro was elected, etc.).

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2014, at 6:25 PM, dk7seven wrote:

    I sent this on to all my friends with the tagline

    Brilliant. Good work John Maxfield.

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 2:44 AM, billcarr wrote:

    This is feeble stuff, I was expecting something original. As to the military aspects Russia already has long established bases in Crimea including a naval base, which is why their army was already there. There is no threat to them. There is no doubt at all from correspondents reports (CNN and BBC) that the so called volunteers are indeed Russian troops, they even have APCs with Russian number plates! They have admitted privately they are the Russian army

    so Putin and his Foreign Minister are telling blatant falsehoods to the world. No doubt this was directed at US people who are notoriously ill informed about othet countries.

    Then there are the Tartars who returned from Russia to Crimea from exile by Stalin. They did not choose to stay in Russia! Very disappointing .

    I expected higher standards from MF

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2014, at 5:03 PM, Gorm wrote:

    Well written, crisp and accurate assessment WHY the Ukraine is important to Putin, to Russia.

    Putin did not invest $51B into hosting the Olympics unless he envisioned, and wanted the rest of the world to see Russia a world class player.

    Putin is no fool, and he will prevail because NO ONE will do little more than threaten. Even Germany, the ace of Western Europe will not risk their Russian relationship. Russia rules with its control over energy!! Add in that China backs Russia. Where does that leave Obama, besides talking up an empty threat, ie Syria all over again!!

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 12:28 PM, Hibiscusanole wrote:

    Putin is a fool. If he can't run a country, he has no should certainly not run an empire. Russia has a history of bankrupting Ukraine because it cannot run itself. The people have been trying to recover their ability to be the bread basket of Europe, but when they finally got the right to own land, they had no farming equipment and no money to buy it. The Russians took every grain of wheat from them under Stalin and starved 10 million of the Ukrainians.

    Now, Russia has discovered 10 million carats of diamonds under a meteorite in Siberia. The news came out in the past year, but I have never heard of them producing jewelry and selling it.

    The tradition of lace making has continued, and is exquisite. American women were told to give up any lace making during the second World War to save thread for the conflict. Russians, in contrast, used lace as currency. They currently produce glamorous, elegant fashion that makes the average Parisian show look clownish. However, they do not show in Paris, nor do they produce a financially stable success like Michael Kors. When was the last time you saw their elegant crafts for sale in America?

    Getting beyond multi-billionaire Putin's all about me concepts of money will be the only way Russia will succeed and let Ukraine succeed. They have been poor since Catherine of Russia destroyed the middle class. He has to comprehend that he has a moral role to fulfill.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 5:03 PM, cmalek wrote:


    By your logic Belarus, which means White Russia, should also be under the hegemony of Mother Russia? If YOU did your homework, you would know that the names of areas in that region of Europe changed depending on who controlled them. Just because Moscow or St. Petersburg ruled those areas the longest does not mean that they "belong" to Russia just as areas of the United States do not "belong" to France, Spain, Mexico, Holland or England.

  • Report this Comment On March 08, 2014, at 5:39 PM, cmalek wrote:


    "Ukraine, also known as MaloRossiya (means "Small Russia" and was called so before word "Ukraine" was designed) is really just another Russia but with other name."

    Nice try at revisinism. The name "Ukraina" came into wide use in the 12th century. The term "Kievan Rus'" was coined in Russian in the 19th century to refer to the priod when the center was in Kiev. The term was first used in the English language in 1913.

    If anything, based on the history of the region, Belarus and much of European Russia should be part of the Ukraine.

  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2014, at 10:21 PM, v1tek wrote:

    I was a necessary step for Russia to protect Crimea's Russians from Nazi dictatorship in Kiev. And I did not foresee any different outcome from the Maydan Putsch. The annexation of Crimea should be done much earlier, indeed.

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