Clashes between Russia and Ukraine have not stopped since 2014, after a popular uprising in Kiev led to the impeachment of pro-Russian president Viktor Yakunovich and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, with the rejection by the international community.
The conflict broke out in the pro-Russian Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk between separatist militias – with the Moscow military support– and the Army of Ukraine. The separatists declared the independence of the two territories and in 2015 a ceasefire came into effect that has been continuously violated.
Now, the Ukrainian crisis has broken out after the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers on the Ukrainian borders and the West considers that Moscow is preparing for an invasion of the neighboring country.
These are the key events and dates of the situation in Ukraine:
On November 21, 2013, the pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, announces that he will not sign the association with the European Union, an act that was scheduled for November 29. The Ukrainian government announced that would resume dialogue with Russia on joining the Eurasian Customs Union.
On November 24, Yanukovych’s decision makes thousands of Ukrainians take to the streets to demonstrate against the government. The mostly peaceful demonstrations continued for more than two months in the maidan square, in Kyiv.
On February 18, 2014, Kiev experiences one of the most violent days and the security forces kill at least 25 people in the protests, a figure that later rises to nearly 100 dead.
On February 21, 2014, President Yanukovych and the main opposition leaders reach a agreement to stop the violence, which includes plans for hold elections before the end of the year.
The next day, the brutal repression and popular indignation forced Yanukovych to flee to Russia at dawn and leaves the opposition in charge of the country. The demonstrators take the headquarters of the Presidency and the Government and enter the residence of the president, where they discover multiple luxury items of his property, which they consider evidence of his corruption.
Referendum in Crimea and its annexation to Russia
March 16, 2014: In Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula where the majority of residents are pro-Russian, a referendum is held – contrary to the opinion of the Kiev authorities – in which voters must decide whether they want to secede and join Russia. With a turnout of 82.7 percent, about 97 percent of voters opt for annexation to Moscow. The European Union rejects the referendum and the United States assures that it will never be accepted.
March 18, 2014: Moscow signs the incorporation of Crimea into its territory and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, assures that the peninsula “has always been part of Russia”.
March 24, 2014: After the then president of the United States, Barack Obama, summoned the leaders of the G7 -made up of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan-, the group decided to suspend Russia’s participation in the Group of Eight (G8) for the annexation of Crimea.
Russian separatist uprising in Donetsk and Lugansk
In April 2014, events on the Crimean peninsula provoke the rise of a pro-Russian armed separatist movement in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Armed groups take part in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, on the border with Russia. The Ukrainian government launches a military response operation and Moscow supports the separatists in the war that continues to this day and has caused the death of more than 14,000 soldiers and civilians.
On May 12 of that same year, following in the wake of Crimea and after the holding of referendums, Lugansk and Donetsk declare themselves independent “republics” of Ukraine.
On May 25, prominent pro-Western businessman Petro Poroshenko wins the presidential election with a absolute majority in the first round of the elections. The then president of the United States, Barack Obama, shows interest in helping the new Ukrainian president and appoints his vice president, Joe Biden, as the main envoy for Ukraine.
Downing of the plane MH17
On July 17, 2014, a plane carrying out a Malaysia Airlines flight is shot down by a missile over the territory of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian forces, causing the death of about 300 people what was on board. The final report of the investigation into what happened, carried out by the Netherlands, stated that the plane was shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft missile transported from Russia, but Moscow denies responsibility for the attack.
Minsk agreements and the arrival of Zelensky
September 5, 2014: The ceasefire agreed in Minsk between Russia, Ukraine and Donetsk separatist representatives comes into effect. However, the pro-Russian militiamen they violate the truce just a week later and the fight continues.
February 11 and 12, 2015: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko meet in Minsk to negotiate a new ceasefire. They reach an agreement, with the mediation of the then French president, Francois Hollande, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, which includes an immediate truce and the withdrawal of all heavy weapons. To this day, the exchange of attacks continues, though international observers blame pro-Russian forces and Moscow more.
April 21, 2019: The comedian Viktor Zelensky, who promised to end the war in the East of the country, wins over Poroshenko in the second round of the presidential elections with more than 70 percent of the vote. Two months later, Zelensky’s party, The People’s Servant, also wins the legislative elections.
September 7, 2019: Russia and Ukraine carry out a historic prisoner exchange, including 24 soldiers from the Ukrainian Navy and film director Oleg Sentosv, sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Russian Justice for perpetrating two terrorist attacks and preparing a third in Crimea . Among the Russian prisoners exchanged was the director of the Russian news agency RIA Nóvosti in Ukraine, Kiril Vishinski, accused of high treason.
December 10, 2019: Zelensky and Putin agree to resume the peace process in Paris, under a meeting called ‘Normandy format‘, led by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Deployment of 100,000 Russian troops
Between January and April 2021, Russia deploys around 20,000 soldiers just 100 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, considered the largest Russian military presence since the conflict broke out in 2014, triggering tension in the Donbas region.
In August 2021, representatives from more than 40 countries and the European Union meet at an international summit to discuss the future of Crimea and sign the Crimean Platform for to demand from Moscow the return of the peninsula.
On December 5, 2021, the United States Intelligence services warn that Russia plans to increase its military presence to the 175,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine with the potential goal of invading the country in early 2022.
six days later, The United States and the United Kingdom warn Moscow of “serious consequences” in the face of a possible Russian invasion in Ukraine and, a week later, the European Union joins Washington and London and warns Russia that attacking Ukraine will lead to internationally coordinated sanctions.
On January 11 and 12, 2022, the meetings between Washington and Moscow, and between Russia and NATO they end up deadlocked.
On January 14, the Government of Ukraine claims to have been the victim of a cyberattack affecting government web pages, in which the attackers post a threatening message in Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish: “Ukrainians! All your data was posted on the network (…) TAll information about you has been made public.”
On January 18, the United States warns that Russia could launch an attack against Ukraine at “any moment” and affirms that the Ukrainian crisis is extremely dangerous.
On January 21, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and his Russian counterpart, Serge Lavrov, meet in Geneva to try to reduce tensions. both agree continue the diplomatic track and Washington agrees to respond to Russia’s concerns in writing within a week.
On January 25, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, warned that Europe and its security “are in danger” and stresses that the region lives “the most dangerous moment since the Cold War.
The next day, the United States and NATO hand Russia their proposals in writing. The Washington document outlines areas where Joe Biden’s Executive sees potential to progress in the negotiation with Russia, such as transparency, stability and arms control, and warns that Moscow’s demand to exclude Ukraine from NATO is not acceptable. For its part, the Alliance claims to be ready to meet again with Russia to discuss areas of security that could benefit both Moscow and NATO. In addition, NATO indicates that it is prepared to deploy their immediate response forces.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.