How long does Russia’s aggression against Ukraine really last?
The timeline of 8-years Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
At the beginning of 2014, Ukraine was in the middle of a revolution. After pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych had refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU and had tried to establish an authoritarian regime, massive demonstrations took place in Kyiv and other cities. Events escalated to violent clashes with the special police unit, and more than a hundred protesters were killed. The Revolution of Dignity ended, as Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia on February 22.
The beginning of the war. Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were occupied by Russian forces.
Russia’s war against Ukraine began. Russian troops illegally crossed the state border of Ukraine for the first time, planning the further occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.
A wave of pro-Russian rallies covered cities in the east and south of Ukraine – Luhansk, Donetsk, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odesa. They were organized by Russian proxies to destabilize the situation in those regions and violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Protests called for the formation of separate republics and carried Russian flags.
The beginning of the open phase of the Russian occupation of Crimea. In the morning, the Russian military without any insignia seized the premises of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) and the Council of Ministers of Crimea. At gunpoint of Russian servicemen, the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea “voted” for the so-called “referendum on the status of Crimea”. Airports and land entrances to the peninsula were blocked.
The Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia granted Vladimir Putin a permission to use Russian armed forces in Ukraine.
The so-called “referendum on the status of Crimea” took place, despite the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the position of the UN Security Council. The referendum was held with numerous violations and falsifications under total control of the many armed Russian soldiers.
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin and representatives of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea signed the so-called Treaty on the Accession of Crimea to Russia.
The United States, the European Union, and other countries imposed the first sanctions on Russia for the occupation of Crimea.
The Permanent Council of OSCE decided to deploy the Special monitoring mission of unarmed civilian observers to Ukraine.
The last military unit under the Ukrainian flag in Crimea was seized. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol were completely occupied by the Russian Armed Forces.
Petro Poroshenko was elected President of Ukraine.
The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/262 that reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. The resolution also underscored that the Crimean referendum had no validity.
So-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) was proclaimed by the Russian proxies that seized the Donetsk Regional State Administration building.
“Kharkiv People’s Republic” was also proclaimed on the same day. However, the pro-Russian rally in the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building was dispersed within hours by the special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.
Russian occupation forces took over Slovyansk, Kramatorsk , and Druzhkivka.
This operation was led by the “former” FSB officer Igor Girkin (Strelkov), who also participated in the occupation of Crimea. Later he became the minister of defence of the so-called “DPR” and the commander-in-chief of the army in the so-called “Novorossiya”.
The Anti-Terrorist Operation in the east of Ukraine officially started.
The Geneva meeting. Ukraine, Russia, the EU, and the United States agreed on “initial steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens”.
On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that “the southeast of Ukraine is Novorossia,” and “Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa were transferred to Ukraine by the Soviet Government“.
So-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) was proclaimed by the Russian proxies.
Tragic confrontation in Odesa. Pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian protesters in the center of the city. The trade union building, harboring pro-Russian protesters, was burned down. 48 people died, and more than 200 were injured.
Illegal referendums in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on “separation from Ukraine.”
Attack on the checkpoint near Volnovakha. Ukrainian forces were able to repulse the attack, but 18 people were killed. Attack near Rubizhne, where Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat.
So-called “DPR” and “LPR” declared the creation of “Novorossiya” confederation.
First battle for the Donetsk airport: Russian attempt to seize the area was repelled, and Ukrainian forces established control over the airport.
Russian armed groups hit a Mi-8MT helicopter of the National Guard of Ukraine. 12 people died.
Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France met in Normandy and established The Normandy format with an aim of finding a peaceful resolution to the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.
Mariupol was liberated by Ukrainian forces, the Azov Regiment among them. No civilians were injured. The city had been occupied for more than a month, since May 10.
Ukrainian Air Force Il-76 was shut down from an anti-aircraft missile system near Luhansk. All 49 people on board were killed. According to the Security Service of Ukraine, the aircraft was hit by mercenaries from the so-called Wagner PMC.
The first attempt to ceasefire: Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine, announced a one-sided ceasefire for a week. Four days later, the Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter was downed by the Russian-backed troops.
The first meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on peaceful settlement of the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions was held with the participation of representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the OSCE.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces launched a counteroffensive.
Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, Bakhmut (Artemivsk), Druzhkivka, and Kostiantynivka were liberated by Ukrainian forces.
The Russian First Channel aired a shocking eyewitness story about the “crucified boy” in Slovyansk (a 3-year kid was allegedly nailed to the news board in the town central square by the Ukrainian soldiers in the presence of his mother; after his death the woman was allegedly tied up to the Ukrainian tank and dragged around until she died) – the biggest and wildest myth born of the Russian propaganda to justify the Russian armed aggression.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down with a Russian-made Buk anti-aircraft missile system. 298 civilians were killed. In 2018, Australia and the Netherlands authorities officially stated that Russia was responsible for downing a passenger jet.
Eight years after the tragedy, the District Court of The Hague has found guilty three individuals associated with Russia, including Girkin, for the downing of the MH17 flight, and sentenced them to lifetime imprisonment in absentia.
Rubizhne, Lysychansk, and Sievierodonetsk were liberated by Ukrainian forces.
The Battle of Ilovaisk, one of the darkest pages of the Russian-Ukrainian war. After Russia sent its regular armed forces to the battle in late August, Ukrainian units found themselves trapped in an encirclement. Corridors for withdrawal were negotiated and agreed, but as Ukrainian forces were leaving Ilovaisk in two columns, Russian troops opened fire at them. 366 were killed, 429 got injured, and 300 were captured.
The Minsk Protocol was signed by The Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk, Belarus. The 12-point agreement included a ceasefire, prisoner exchange and military withdrawal from the line of contact, deliveries of humanitarian aid, withdrawal of illegal armed groups and military equipment from the territory of Ukraine, and local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian law.
The ceasefire was broken within days, and the agreement overall did not prove to be effective.
After the Minsk Protocol was signed, several prisoner exchanges took place.
Memorandum on fulfillment of the Minsk Protocol was signed. It included points about the mutual ceasefire, 30-kilometer buffer zone without heavy weaponry, withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries, ban on combat aircraft flights, and others.
A Normandy Format meeting. No particular agreements were reached.
Illegal elections to the People’s Council were held in so-called “DPR” and “LPR”.
Prisoners exchange: 146 Ukrainians were released.
The defense of the Donetsk airport ended after 242 days. Minsk II agreements were signed, but Ukrainian forces were still forced to retreated from Debaltseve.
Volnovakha bus attack. A shell from the temporarily occupied territories hit a passenger bus near the Ukraine government-controlled checkpoint in Buhas. 12 civilians were killed, and 18 were injured.
Last Ukrainian troops withdrew from the Donetsk airport after the new terminal building had been destroyed by Russian forces. The defense of the Donetsk airport lasted for 242 days and became a symbol of the indomitability and courage of the Ukrainian military. 100 soldiers died, defending the airport.
The battle near Debaltseve intensified.
Shelling of Mariupol. Russian armed forces shelled “Skhidnyi” residential neighborhood in Mariupol. 31 people were killed, and more than a hundred were injured.
Shelling of Kramatorsk. Smerch missiles, launched from the temporarily occupied territories, hit the Kramatorsk airfield and residential areas of the city. 17 people were killed, and 64 were injured.
A Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group meetings in Minsk, Belarus.
The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements (known as Minsk II) was signed. Parties agreed on 13 points that should have helped to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict. That included a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, effective monitoring by the OSCE, amnesty, and exchange of hostages. Agreements also concerned the adoption by Ukraine of a law on the special order of local self-government of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, restoration of full control over the state border by the government of Ukraine, and local elections.
Ukrainian forces retreated from Debaltseve. According to the Minsk Agreement, Debaltseve had to stay under Ukrainian control, but Russian forces intensified the offensive and surrounded the town on three sides.
Prisoners exchange: 139 Ukrainians were released.
The Ukrainian parliament passed a law “On the recognition of certain districts, cities, towns, and villages of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as temporarily occupied territories”.
The Battle of Marinka. Russia-backed forces tried to seize the town of Marinka near Donetsk, but Ukrainian units repulsed their attack.
A Normandy Format meeting. The discussion concerned the Minsk agreements, The OSCE mission, and an illegitimate election planned in so-called “DPR” and “LPR”, but no documents were signed.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 1181.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 955.
Attempts at disengagement near three settlements and Battle at Svitlodarsk Arc.
Russian forces backed down from the village of Shyrokyne and Ukrainian units took the settlement under their control.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was outlawed by Russia as an “extremist organization”.
Prisoners exchange: Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko was released and returned to Ukraine.
1,785,740 internally displaced persons were registered as of June 6, according to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.
The Trilateral Contact Group signed an agreement about disengagement near three settlements – Stanitsa Luhanska, Zolote, and Petrovske.
Disengagement of forces near Zolote
Disengagement of forces near Petrovsk.
A Normandy Format meeting. The road map of the Minsk agreements was discussed, but no new agreements were signed.
OSCE mission noted 2,900 explosions. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in the areas around Svitlodarsk, Horlivka, and Debaltseve.
Battle at Svitlodarsk Arc.
Prisoners exchange: 16 Ukrainians were released from captivity throughout 2016, according to the Security Service of Ukraine.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 564.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 112.
Military escalation in Avdiivka and massive cyberattack on Ukrainian companies.
A representative of Ukraine filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice to hold the Russian Federation accountable for financing terrorism and discrimination against the Crimean Tatar and the Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
Military escalation in Avdiivka. Сritical infrastructure of the town had been damaged by the shelling. People in Avdiivka were left without electricity, heating, and running water in the middle of the winter.
The International Court of Justice in the case “Ukraine v. Russia” ordered Russia to “refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis” and to “ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language”.
Massive cyberattack on Ukrainian companies and government agencies with Petya ransomware. Other countries were also affected. The UK government publicly accused the Russian military of being behind the attack.
Prisoners exchange: 73 Ukrainians were released.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 354.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 117.
The Donbas reintegration law was passed and The Joint Forces Operation started. Martial law was imposed for the first time after the Kerch Strait incident.
The Ukrainian Parliament passed the Donbas reintegration law. It defines Russia as an aggressor state, states that certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are illegally occupied by Russian-controlled troops, and are administered by self-proclaimed Russian occupation authorities.
The Joint Forces Operation (JFO) started and replaced the anti-terrorist operation (ATO). The main change concerned the command center: ATO had been overseen by the Anti-terrorist Center of Ukraine’s Security Service, and JFO is strategically led by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The Attack near Zholobok and Krymske: four Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and seven were injured.
Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed head of the occupied parts of Donetsk region, was killed in a blast in the Separ cafe in Donetsk. Zakharchenko participated in taking over the Donetsk City Administration building and became a leader of the so-called “DPR” in 2014.
Pseudo-elections in the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”. Ukraine and the international community did not recognize the holding of elections and their outcome as legitimate.
Kerch Strait incident: Russian border guards under the FSB fired upon three Ukrainian navy vessels while they were passing through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov. All 24 crew members were captured.
Martial law was imposed in ten regions of Ukraine in response to Russia’s attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait. Martial law was declared for the first time since Ukraine’s regained independence in 1991.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 227.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 58.
Disengagement of armed forces near three points and two prisoner exchanges took place.
The Ukrainian Parliament approved amendments to the Constitution that set the strategic course toward Ukraine’s full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected President of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin signed a decree about the simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship of the Russian Federation by residents of temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
An international tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release 24 Ukrainian sailors and three naval ships it seized off Crimea in November 2018.
Disengagement of armed forces near Stanitsa Luhanska started. The Trilateral Contact Group agreed on disengagement back in 2016, but the arrangements had been repeatedly broken.
Prisoners exchange: 35 Ukrainians were released, including 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in November 2018, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, and activist Olexandr Kolchenko.
Sentsov and Kolchenko were detained in temporarily occupied Crimea on May 10, 2014. They were falsely accused of preparing terrorist attacks and sentenced to 20 and 10 years in a Russian high-security prison respectively.
Disengagement of armed forces near Zolote started.
Disengagement of armed forces near Petrovske started.
A Normandy Format meeting, the first one since 2016. The parties arrived at the conclusions in support of arrangements within the Trilateral Contact Group: the ceasefire regime, three additional disengagement areas, exchange on an “all for all” basis by the end of the year, and others.
Prisoners exchange: 76 Ukrainians were released.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 170.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 27.
The longest attempts of the ceasefire came into effect.
Start of MH17 trial in the Netherlands. Three Russians and a citizen of Ukraine were accused of shooting down the aircraft and killing 298 people aboard.
Prisoners exchange: 20 Ukrainians were released. That was the last big exchange until the beginning of a full-scale war.
Ukraine became NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partner, along with Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden.
29th and one of the longest attempts of the ceasefire came into effect. OSCE SMM recorded around 4,200 ceasefire violations from July 27 to December 20, 2020 – thirty times less than from January 1 to July 27, 2020.
The Trilateral Contact Group agreed on four additional disengagement areas and 20 demining areas.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 107.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 26.
Russia blocked a part of the Black Sea and started gathering troops on the border with Ukraine.
More than 50 towns and villages in Donetsk region were left without running water, as a water pumping station had been de-energized after the shelling.
Russia had been gathering more troops on the border with Ukraine. Their numbers were higher than at any time since 2014, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated.
Russian ships carried out coordinated provocative maneuvers toward the Ukrainian Navy in the Sea of Azov.
Russia announced that a part of the Black Sea in the direction of the Kerch Strait would be closed for warships and state vessels of other states under the pretext of military training from April 24 until October 31. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed its resolute protest.
The inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform was held in Kyiv, with delegations from 46 countries attending. The initiative is aimed at coordinating international efforts on the de-occupation of Crimea, preventing further human rights violations, and responding to the growth of security threats.
Russia deployed nearly 90,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied Crimea, according to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Russia presented a list of demands on security guarantees for NATO and the USA. They included declining Ukraine, as well as other states, from entering NATO, stopping any military activity in Eastern Europe, withdrawing forces to the positions of 1997, and others.
Summary of the year:
Number of Ukrainian military death: 110.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 25.
Russia started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
A Normandy Format meeting between the four countries’ representatives. No specific agreements were reached.
The hearings of the interstate case «Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia» were held in the European Court of Human Rights. The case regards the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, mass and systematic human rights violations in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and attempts to illegally transport orphans from there to the territory of the Russian Federation.
Up to 150,000 Russian troops were amassed near the Ukrainian border.
Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises “Union Determination – 2022”. 30,000 Russian troops and heavy weaponry were relocated to Belarus.
More than a dozen countries told their citizens to leave Ukraine due to the risk of Russian invasion.
Under the pretext of military exercises, Russia completely blocked the Sea of Azov and large areas of the Black Sea, which made navigation on both seas virtually impossible.
Shelling of Stanitsa Luhanska, Marinka, Vrubivka. A kindergarten and a school were damaged.
A mass evacuation was announced in the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” as the Russian occupation administrations declared there had been a threat of attack from Ukraine. Those who evacuated to Russia were not provided with adequate help and accommodation.
Russia recognized the “independence” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”. Russia recognized them within the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (only parts of them were temporarily occupied) as Vladimir Putin specified on the next day.
The Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia granted Vladimir Putin a permission to use military force outside the country.
Ukraine stated that Russia withdrew from the Minsk agreements by recognizing the “independence” of temporarily occupied territories.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and The European Union imposed the first sanctions package in response to Russia’s recognition of so-called “DPR” and “LPR”. The measures concerned Russian banks and financial institutions, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as well as Russian elites, Members of Parliament, and high officials.
The Ukrainian parliament declared a nationwide state of emergency starting on February 24.
Russia began a full-scale war against Ukraine.
By August 7, almost six months after the beginning of a full-scale war, 5,401 civilians were killed, 355 children among them, and 7,466 were injured. Near 6 million Ukrainians fled from the country, and nearly 2 million were forcefully deported to Russia. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies registered more than 28,000 war crimes.
Up to 100 brave Ukrainian soldiers die each day, defending Ukraine, European democracy, and our future against Russia.