The crisis that Russia has unleashed in Eastern Europe by concentrating some 100,000 soldiers along the Ukrainian borders makes Western countries fear that Moscow is preparing a new military aggression against the neighboring country. Ukraine has been fighting since 2014 against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region supported by Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula that year in a referendum deemed illegal by the international community.
The concentration of Russian troops and the dialectical escalation of President Vladimir Putin against Kiev and NATO, which he accuses of threatening Russia by expanding towards its borders, encourages the prediction of a return to the Cold War. The background to this crisis is Russia’s refusal to accept the rapprochement with NATO and the European Union of the former Soviet republic, which it considers part of its identity and its space of influence and whose control it deems vital for its security. Putin believes that both countries make up “one people”.
November of 2013
The president of Ukraine, the pro-Russian Victor Yanukovych, suspends the signing of an association agreement with the European Union, scheduled for November 29, due to pressure from Russia, which also offers him significant economic compensation for it, such as the reduction of the price of gas. This announcement catalyzes the discontent of the population, especially in the west of the country. On November 24, tens of thousands of Ukrainians demonstrate against the government in Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan).
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Security forces kill at least 100 people in protests. Popular outrage and brutal repression force Yanukovych to flee. Meanwhile, in Simferopol, the capital of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, pro-Russian militants are facing supporters of the unity of Ukraine. At the same time, camouflaged Russian soldiers and Kremlin espionage agents penetrate the territory to force its annexation to Russia.
March 16, 2014
A referendum is held in Crimea in which — amid accusations of fraud — Russia’s annexation wins by more than 97% of the vote. Two days later, Putin signs the incorporation of the Ukrainian peninsula into his territory, which the international community does not recognize. NATO freezes its collaboration with Moscow, and the US and the EU impose sanctions on it.
The events in Crimea are reproduced in the Ukrainian region of Donbas. In May, separatist groups in Donetsk and Lugansk proclaimed themselves “people’s republics” and demanded integration into Russia. Eastern Ukraine thus becomes the scene of the last war in Europe between pro-Russian separatists, with military support from Moscow, and the Ukrainian Army.
July 17, 2014
A Russian-made Buk missile shoots down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, killing all 298 on board as the plane overflew the Donetsk region.
September 5, 2015
Ukraine, Russia and separatist representatives from Donetsk and Luhansk sign an agreement in Minsk to end the war under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). A week-long ceasefire goes into effect.
October 19, 2016
The meeting in Berlin of the Normandy Quartet —sponsored by France and Germany to resolve this conflict— ends without progress.
December 10, 2019
Putin and the new Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, agree in Paris to resume the peace process in Ukraine. On December 29, Kiev and separatist representatives exchange 200 prisoners.
Russia begins to move troops to its borders with Ukraine and to the Crimean peninsula. On April 13, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg defines the deployment as “the largest accumulation of Russian troops since the annexation of Crimea.”
August 23, 2021
46 States and organizations, including NATO, sign the Crimean Platform in Kiev, in which the West demands that Russia return the Ukrainian peninsula.
December 3, 2021
Washington believes that Moscow is preparing an invasion of Ukraine “in early 2022″, according to The Washington Post. According to the US, the deployment of Russia on the borders with that country can reach 175,000 soldiers.
December 16, 2021
The EU threatens Russia with “enormous sanctions” if it invades Ukraine.
January 11 and 12, 2022
A meeting between Washington and Moscow —on January 11 in Geneva (Switzerland)— and another held the following day between NATO and Russia ended without progress. Moscow reports the start of military maneuvers in southern Russia, the Caucasus and Crimea.
January 14, 2022
The US warns that Russia is planning a “false flag attack”: a sabotage against its forces in eastern Ukraine to attribute it to Kiev and justify an invasion. The previous morning, a massive cyber attack disabled the Ukrainian government’s computer system for hours.
January 18, 2022
Russia sends troops to Belarus for joint exercises near the Ukrainian borders. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins a new round of meetings that will culminate on Friday with a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
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