Crisis in Ukraine
by Dominique Hessert | published Sep. 12th, 2014
Over the past few months, there has been a flurry of conflicted events affecting Ukraine and Russia, emanating from a history involving the breakup of the Soviet Union. The most recent series of events dates back to this past December.
800,000 people occupied Kiev City Hall and Independence Square in early December in an anti-government protest. Within a few weeks, President Vladimir Putin bought $15 billion of Ukrainian debt, ultimately decreasing gas prices in Russia by approximately a third.
Weeks later, in January 2014, Ukrainian parliament responded to the demonstrations caused by pro-Russian protesters by enacting highly restrictive laws regarding protesting. In no more than a few days, protesters stormed government offices in western Ukraine, leaving two dead in the process. BBC News reported that the anti-protest law was invalidated in about a week by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. In a desperate act, a bill was passed stating that all charges would be dropped for the 234 arrested protesters if they would evacuate the government offices. The protesters denied the terms offered.
In the month of February, previously arrested protesters were released and Kiev City Hall was free of any demonstrations. On February 20, Independence Square was filled with clashes. Within 48 hours, 88 people were announced dead, marking that day as the “bloodiest day for decades,” according to the BBC. Even more turmoil followed those deadly 48 hours when President Yanukovych went missing and administration buildings were taken over by demonstrators. As the time since Yanukovych's disappearance increased, Parliament moved to pull the president out of power and set up elections to vote for who would be the next person in power. Speaker Olexander Turchynov was temporarily put into the position as the elections were not to be held until May. Meanwhile, Yanukovych continued to remain missing with an arrest warrant in his name. In late February, Yanukovych appeared in his first news conference since disappearing, and demanded to remain Ukraine’s president. His demand was denied.
In the following month of March, many pro-Russian rallies were happening just outside of Crimea according to the Wall Street Journal. 97 percent of Crimea’s voters moved to secede and join Russia, and President Putin supported this by signing a bill that would bring Crimea to join Russia.
Soon after, in the month of April, government buildings of East Ukraine were occupied by protesters for a day as they demand a vote for independence. Authorities recover control the following day, but within a week more and more authorized buildings were taken over by protestors, which lead to the anti-terrorist plan announced by Turchynov, Ukraine’s temporary president. The plan failed to be effective as pro-Russian gunmen took control of police stations as well as security service buildings, and Ukranian forces proved unable to remove pro-Russian separatists from the buildings. After this, Putin announced to President Obama that Ukraine is just a few steps away from a civil war. After yet another attack in Slovyansk performed by pro-Russian activists, Ukraine troops responded. They attacked in Mariupol, where three pro-Russian activists are killed. Russia became outraged.
After more demonstrations and protests in Donetsk, Luhansk and Volnovakha from May 2 to May 22, 81 people are left dead. Petro Poroshenko was then elected as Ukraine’s new president.
Once Poroshenko was sworn in, his first move was to allow civilians flee battle areas of the east; according to the BBC, he “ordered the creation of humanitarian corridors”. In the rest of the month of June, the government regained Mariupol and both Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine signed an association agreement.
Ukraine lost 20 soldiers during a rebel attack, and four civilians were killed in the ensuing firefight. Two days later, on July 14, an aircraft crashed near the Russian border. Ukraine insisted it was a Russian missile that shot the plane down.
As August approached, Ukraine’s city of Luhansk ran low in supplies and the fighting grew more and more intense in Donestk with each passing day. Putin banned imports from the West of common products such as fruit, vegetables, meat fish, milk and dairy imports. Towards the end of August, the rebels captured the town of Novoazovsk.
Russia offered concessions with a peace deal for Ukraine and the rebels to sign, which they did on September 5, ending almost 5 months of fighting.