Ukrainian crisis

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A prolonged crisis in Ukraine began on 21 November 2013, when then-president Viktor Yanukovych suspended preparations for the implementation of an association agreement with the European Union. This decision resulted in mass protests by its opponents, known as the "Euromaidan". After months of such protests, Yanukovych was ousted by the protesters on 22 February 2014, when he fled the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev. Following his ousting, unrest enveloped the largely Russophone eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, from where he had drawn most of his support. An invasion by Russia in Ukrainian autonomous region of Crimea resulted in the annexation of Crimea by Russia on 18 March. Subsequently, unrest in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine evolved into a war between the post-revolutionary Ukrainian government and pro-Russian insurgents.

Euromaidan and revolution[edit]

Ukraine became gripped by unrest when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union on 21 November 2013.[1] An organised political movement known as 'Euromaidan' demanded closer ties with the European Union, and the ousting of Yanukovych.[2] This movement was ultimately successful, culminating in the February 2014 revolution, which removed Yanukovych and his government.[3]

Post-revolution unrest[edit]

Following flight of President Yanukovych on 23 February 2014, protests by pro-Russian and anti-revolution activists began in the largely Russophone region of Crimea.[4] These were followed by demonstrations in cities across eastern and southern Ukraine, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Odessa.

Russian annexation of Crimea[edit]

Starting on 26 February 2014, pro-Russian armed men gradually began to take over the peninsula, provoking protests.[5] Russia initially said that these uniformed militants, termed "little green men" in Ukraine, were "local self-defence forces".[6] However, they later admitted that these were in fact Russian soldiers without insignias, confirming on-the-ground reports of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] By 27 February, the Crimean parliament building had been seized by Russian forces. Russian flags were raised over these buildings, and a self-declared pro-Russian government said that it would hold a referendum on independence from Ukraine.[14] Following that internationally unrecognised referendum, which was held on 16 March, Russia annexed Crimea on 18 March.

War in Donbass[edit]

Damaged building in Lysychansk, 4 August 2014

From the beginning of March 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian and anti-government groups took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, together commonly called the "Donbass", in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the Euromaidan movement. These demonstrations, which followed the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and which were part of a wider group of concurrent pro-Russian protests across southern and eastern Ukraine, escalated into an armed conflict between the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR respectively), and the Ukrainian government.[15][16] Prior to a change of the top leadership in August,[17] the separatists were largely led by Russian citizens.[18] Russian paramilitaries are reported to make up from 15% to 80% of the combatants.[18][19][20][21][22]

Between 22 and 25 August, Russian artillery, personnel, and what Russia called a "humanitarian convoy" were reported to have crossed the border into Ukrainian territory without the permission of the Ukrainian government. Crossings were reported to have occurred both in areas under the control of pro-Russian forces and areas that were not under their control, such as the south-eastern part of Donetsk Oblast, near Novoazovsk. These events followed the reported shelling of Ukrainian positions from the Russian side of the border over the course of the preceding month.[23][24][25][26][27] Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said that the events of 22 August were a "direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine".[28] Western and Ukrainian officials described these events as a "stealth invasion" of Ukraine by Russia.[27] As a result of this, DPR and LPR insurgents regained much of the territory they had lost during the preceding government military offensive. A deal to establish a ceasefire, called the Minsk Protocol, was signed on 5 September 2014.[29] Violations of the ceasefire were common. Amidst the solidification of the line between insurgent and Ukrainian territory during the ceasefire, warlords took control of swathes of land on the insurgent side, leading to further destabilisation.[30] The ceasefire completely collapsed in January 2015. Heavy fighting resumed across the conflict zone, including at Donetsk International Airport and Debaltseve.[31] A new ceasefire agreement, called Minsk II, was signed on 12 February.[32]

Elections in Ukraine[edit]

(Russian) Internationally unrecognised Donbass general elections, 2 November 2014

Amidst the prolonged crisis, multiple elections were held across Ukraine. The first election held since the ousting of President Yanukovych was the 25 May presidential election, which resulted in the election of Petro Poroshenko as president of Ukraine. In the Donbass region, only 20% of polling stations were open due to threats of violence by pro-Russian separatist insurgents.[33] Of the 2,430 planned polling stations in the region, only 426 remained open for polling.[33]

As the war in Donbass continued, the first post-revolutionary parliamentary elections in Ukraine were held on 26 October 2014.[34] Once again, separatists stymied voting in the areas that they controlled. They held their own elections, internationally unrecognised and in violation of the Minsk Protocol peace process, on 2 November 2014.[35]

Effects of the crisis[edit]

The crisis has had many effects, both domestic [36] and international. According to an October 2014 estimate by the World Bank, the economy of Ukraine contracted by 8% during the year 2014 as a result of the crisis.[37] Economic sanctions imposed on Russia by western nations contributed to the collapse in value of the Russian rouble, and the resulting Russian financial crisis.[38]

The war in Donbass caused a coal shortage in Ukraine, as the Donbass region had been the chief source of coal for power stations across the country. Furthermore, Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station was forced to shut down one of its reactors after an accident. The combination of these two problems led to rolling blackouts across Ukraine during December 2014.[39]

Additionally due to the Ukrainian Crisis, a new pipeline in Turkey was proposed with an annual capacity around 63 billion cubic metres (bcm), so as to carry natural gas to Europe while completely bypassing Ukraine as a traditional transit hub for Russian gas.[40]


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  2. ^ Balmforth, Richard (12 December 2013). "Kiev protesters gather, EU dangles aid promise". Reuters. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
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  15. ^ Grytsenko, Oksana (12 April 2014). "Armed pro-Russian insurgents in Luhansk say they are ready for police raid". Kyiv Post. 
  16. ^ Leonard, Peter (14 April 2014). "Ukraine to deploy troops to quash pro-Russian insurgency in the east". Yahoo News Canada. Associated Press. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Strelkov/Girkin Demoted, Transnistrian Siloviki Strengthened in 'Donetsk People's Republic', Vladimir Socor, Jamestown Foundation, 15 August 2014
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  19. ^ Представитель ДНР назвал процент российских добровольцев в местной армии. 27 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Российский Наемник: "Половина Ополченцев - Из России. Мне Помогают Спонсоры. Мы Возьмем Львов"". 26 July 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
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  22. ^ "Whisked Away for Tea With a Rebel in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  23. ^ [1]
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  25. ^ JIM HEINTZ Associated Press. "Ukraine: Russian Tank Column Enters Southeast - ABC News". ABC News. Archived from the original on 25 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  26. ^ "Ukraine crisis: 'Column from Russia' crosses border". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front". The New York Times. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  28. ^ "Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border". Reuters. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels sign ceasefire deal". BBC News. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  30. ^ Ukraine rebels warlords "Ukraine rebels a disunited front run by warlords" Check |url= scheme (help). Associated Press. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
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  33. ^ a b "Poroshenko Declares Victory in Ukraine Presidential Election", The Wall Street Journal (25 May 2014)
  34. ^ Ukraine President Poroshenko Calls Snap General Election, Bloomberg News (25 August 2014)
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  36. ^ "Ukraine announced sanctions against Russian airlines". 28 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  37. ^ "Ukraine economy to contract by 8% in 2014: World Bank". Yahoo News. Agence France-Presse. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  38. ^ "‘We are hardly surviving': As oil and the ruble drop, ordinary Russians face growing list of problems". Financial Post. Reuters. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  39. ^ Ukraine turns off reactor at its most powerful nuclear plant after 'accident', The Independent (28 December 2014)
    Ukraine Briefly Cuts Power to Crimea Amid Feud With Russia Over NATO, New York Times (DEC. 24, 2014)
    Coal import to help avoid rolling blackouts in Ukraine — energy minister, ITAR-TASS (December 31, 2014)
    Rolling blackouts in Ukraine after nuclear plant accident, br>Mashable (Dec 03, 2014)
    Ukraine to Import Coal From ‘Far Away’ as War Curtails Mines, Bloomberg News (Dec 31, 2014)
  40. ^ "Russia to Shift Ukraine Gas Transit to Turkey as EU Cries Foul". Bloomberg. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.