a quarrel in a faraway country
between people of whom we know nothing
Russia without Ukraine is a country;
Russia with Ukraine is an empire.
During the Great War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Lenin took it back
During the Great Pariotic War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Stalin took it back
During the Winter Olympiad, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Putin let it slip away
Ukraine Crisis - Russian Military Intervention
Early 2014 saw the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War. On February 21, Ukrainian authorities and opposition leaders signed an agreement backed by the European Union on settling the political crisis, including the establishment of a national unity government within 10 days.
On 21-22 February 2014, following three months of large protests and violent clashes, former President Yanukovych fled Kyiv, citing security concerns last month. Russia considered Yanukovich Ukraine’s legitimate leader and did not recognize the new Ukrainian authorities, but the West claims they are legitimate. The Ukrainian Parliament established an interim government on February 27.
Russia conducted an illegal military intervention in the Crimean Peninsula and took steps to acquire territory from Ukraine through the illegal use of force. On March 18, the Russian government recognized Crimea as independent and has since declared Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. A vote by Crimeans to join the Russian Federation was quickly accepted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Crimea signed a treaty with Russia to become its constituent member on 18 March 2014 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. On March 20, Russia’s lower Parliament House, known as the State Duma, voted in support of Russia’s illegal attempt to make Crimea a part of Russia.
Russian forces occupied the Crimean Peninsula in support of the Russian Federation’s claim of Crimean annexation and these forces continued to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with its claim. The United States and Ukraine do not recognize this claimed annexation. The Russian Federation positioned military forces along the border of eastern Ukraine while armed militants in several eastern Ukrainian cities staged demonstrations, seized government buildings, and attacked police and pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators.
While the transition to a new government was largely peaceful in most parts of Ukraine, in several eastern Ukrainian cities armed militants, including personnel who appeared to be members of the Russian military, have seized government buildings, and attacked police. There were staged demonstrations in eastern Ukraine, and attacks on pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators – some of these clashes resulted in injuries and deaths.
"This is Novorossia: Kharkov, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa did not belong to Ukraine in tsarist times," Putin said. "All these territories were transferred to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. God knows why." The Russian Federation positioned military forces along the border of eastern Ukraine while armed militants in several eastern Ukrainian cities have staged demonstrations, seized government buildings, set up checkpoints, and attacked police and pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators.
On 06 April 2014, pro-Russian separatists captured government buildings in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine’s mineral-rich eastern regions. The evidence was overwhelming that this was a very carefully orchestrated, well-planned, well-targeted, well-coordinated effort to take over buildings in four cities on – within the same 24-hour period with identical tactics. The Ukrainian government put out publically its arrests and rollups of GRU and other intelligence officers in various Ukrainian cities.
Russia then began a slow-motion occupation of Ukraine. In the face of insurrections by pro-Russian protesters that spread like wildfire through eastern Ukraine, local security forces either melted away or, in some places, swapped sides and joined the protesters. "We did not expect that the whole system of central and regional power would fall to pieces so quickly," Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said. Pro-Russian gunmen have seized Ukrainian government buildings in nearly a dozen eastern towns and cities, while Ukrainian troops have launched operations to retake the buildings. It remains unclear how much actual fighting has taken place.
Federalization supporters in Donetsk, Druzkivka, Gorlovka/Horlivka, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Luhans'k, Makiyivka, Melitopol, Slaviansk and Zaporizhzhya seized local adminstration buildings, and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government. If the Ukrainian government reacted passively to the Russian-backed Russian separatists they would be criticized as not defending their own interests and inviting more Russian aggression. But if they act, Russia could say they were being provoked. Inaction would invite opposition from right wing forces in Ukraine, while action would further alienate the Party of Regions.
Despite announcing an “anti-terrorist operation" in April 2014 and amassing a large number of troops and heavy weapons in the region, the national government failed to prevent the continued seizures of buildings there and some other eastern regions of Ukraine. There are indications that Kiev does not have enough loyal troops to deliver on its promised protest crackdown. On several occasions the troops sent against activists simply defected, surrendering their weapons and armored vehicles
Ukraine’s acting president said 30 April 2014 that the Kyiv government had effectively lost control over the situation in the country’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions where a number of government buildings have been taken over by pro-Russia separatists. Oleksandr Turchynov said that Russia was now eyeing six more regions in the country’s east and south. A takeover by Russia of two such regions, if it were to take full control of Donetsk, would secure Russia’s land connection with Crimea, which it annexed in March 2014. The takeover of two more regions along the Black Sea coast would connect Russian mainland with Moldova’s Russian-speaking Transdniestria enclave.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko signed a landmark trade and economic agreement with the European Union in Brussels 27 June 2014, and said he would decide later whether to extend the unilateral cease-fire he announced a week earlier in the military campaign against pro-Russian separatists. Poroshenko said Ukraine had paid "the highest possible price" to sign the free trade agreement with the EU, which he called "historic."
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced 24 July 2014 that he was resigning, amid the break-up of the country’s ruling coalition in parliament. Ukraine’s Svoboda and UDAR parties announced their factions were quitting the majority coalition. Yatsenyuk made the announcement hours after the two major political parties in the ruling coalition pulled out. Usually mild-mannered and even-keeled, he expressed frustration over parliament’s failure to pass crucial energy legislation and increase army financing as the county battles pro-Russia separatists in its east and tried to deal with the aftermath of a plane downing that killed 298 people.
Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was appointed as acting prime minister. The Cabinet of Ministers, dissolved by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), would continue to function until the new government is formed. President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the break-up of the coalition saying that early parliamentary elections will give Ukrainians the opportunity of a “full reset."
Extraordinary elections would be held on September 28.
On 31 July 2014 Ukraine's parliament rejected the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had announced his intention to step down after the two parties supporting him left the ruling coalition. The legislature voted not to accept Yatsenyuk's resignation, despite his loss of political backing. The lawmakers also approved legislation backed by Yatsenyuk to help fund the fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east. The prime minister had warned that without the funding, Ukraine would default on its debt, undermining a $17 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund.
The mayor of Kiev took the lead on 09 August 2014 in work to dismantle the remaining barriers and tents on the Ukrainian capital's main street, nine months after pro-EU demonstrators took to the streets. Vitali Klitschko, an ex-boxing champion who was active in the protests during the winter, turned out with dozens of volunteers and council workers. He told reporters that Kreschatik Street had to be re-opened to traffic. A few hundred demonstrators had still occupied a camp on the square. Days before, protesters had clashed with security forces in Kiev in scenes reminiscent of the unrest which eventually brought down Ukraine's pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the law on the "Purification of the government" on 09 October 2014. The law determines the legal and administrative grounds for examining officials "with the aim of restoring trust to the government and the creation of conditions for the construction of a new system in accordance with European standards." The lustration (a term for the purging of government officials affiliated with the former regime) committees will be created in each ministry. The law says that officials will have to submit consent in writing to undergoing checks, as well as provide an autobiography and a copy of their passport. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has initially calculated the number of people who may be subjected to lustration at 1 million. The law's main target is Soviet functionaries, security forces and the close entourage of deposed president Victor Yanukovych.
By the end of November 2014 political pressure was mounting both at home and abroad on Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, with critics arguing he lacked direction in combating a pro-Moscow insurgency in the east and not moving fast enough on reform. With government formation delayed, so, too, were the sweeping reforms called for by the Maidan protesters who unseated Yanukovych earlier this year. And activists warn of trouble ahead if reform is not taken up quickly, and endemic political corruption stamped out.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk emerged strengthened from the October elections with a hard-line stance on Russia that risked making the more diplomatic President Petro Poroshenko look weak. Some are concerned that emerging cracks between Ukraine's leaders - Poroshenko and Yatseniuk - might widen, as they did a decade ago between the previous leadership duo, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko.
In a widely expected move, Ukraine's new parliament elected Arseniy Yatsenyuk for a new term as prime minister. The Verkhovna Rada on 27 November 2014 confirmed Yatsenyuk to stay on as prime minister with the backing of 341 deputies out of 390 present. The five parties in the governing coalition have 288 seats, suggesting that about half the 96 independent members voted with the majority.
Yatsenyuk was in favor of re-appointing Oleksandr Turchynov, a leader of Yatsenyuk's party, as parliamentary chairman. The Ukrainian parliament elected former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman, a representative from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, to the post of speaker. The parliamentary chairman is the first to stand in for the president if the head of state is unable to fulfill his duties.
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