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.

2014
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.

February 20, 2014

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.

February 23 – April 7, 2014

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.

February 27, 2014

The Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia granted Vladimir Putin a permission to use Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

crimea occupation
The Russian military convoy without any insignia near Sevastopol on March 10, 2014. Photo: Baz Ratner / REUTERS

 

March 1, 2014

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.

March 16, 2014

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.

March 18, 2014

The United States, the European Union, and other countries imposed the first sanctions on Russia for the occupation of Crimea.

crimea russian occupation
A Ukrainian sailor leaves a building of the Sevastopol naval base after it was seized by the Russian army. March 19, 2014. Photo: REUTERS / Vasily Fedosenko
March 2014

The Permanent Council of OSCE decided to deploy the Special monitoring mission of unarmed civilian observers to Ukraine.

March 21, 2014

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.

March 25, 2014

Petro Poroshenko was elected President of Ukraine.

March 25, 2014

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.

March 27, 2014

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 flags and symbols of the so-called “DPR” on the seized building of the Donetsk Regional State Administration. April 7, 2014. Photo: Roman Pylypei / EPA
April 7, 2014

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”.

April 12, 2014

The Anti-Terrorist Operation in the east of Ukraine officially started.

April 14, 2014

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“.

April 17, 2014

So-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) was proclaimed by the Russian proxies.

April 27, 2014

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.

May 2, 2014

Illegal referendums in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on “separation from Ukraine.”

May 11, 2014

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.

May 22, 2014

So-called “DPR” and “LPR” declared the creation of “Novorossiya” confederation.

May 24, 2014

First battle for the Donetsk airport: Russian attempt to seize the area was repelled, and Ukrainian forces established control over the airport.

May 26, 2014

Russian armed groups hit a Mi-8MT helicopter of the National Guard of Ukraine. 12 people died.

May 29, 2014

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.

June 6, 2014

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.

On Mariupol street on June 13, 2014. Photo: Evgeny Maloletka / AP Photo
June 13, 2014

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.

June 14, 2014

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.

June 20, 2014

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.

June 23, 2014

Ukraine’s Armed Forces launched a counteroffensive.

July 1, 2014

Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, Bakhmut (Artemivsk), Druzhkivka, and Kostiantynivka were liberated by Ukrainian forces.

July 5-6, 2014

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.

July 12, 2014

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.

MH17 crash site
The crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near the Hrabove village in the Donetsk region. Photo: Thomson / REUTERS
July 17, 2014

Rubizhne, Lysychansk, and Sievierodonetsk were liberated by Ukrainian forces.

July 20-24, 2014

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.

Ukrainian soldiers during the Battle of Ilovaisk. By Maksym Dondiuk
August 6-29, 2014

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.

September 5, 2014

After the Minsk Protocol was signed, several prisoner exchanges took place.

September 2014

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.

September 19, 2014

A Normandy Format meeting. No particular agreements were reached.

October 16-17, 2014

Illegal elections to the People’s Council were held in so-called “DPR” and “LPR”.

November 2, 2014

Prisoners exchange: 146 Ukrainians were released.

December 26, 2014

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 1757 (data from “Book of memory of those who died for Ukraine” project).
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 2084 (data from UN Human Rights Council rThe defense of the Donetsk airporteport).

2015
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.

January 13, 2015

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.

defending Donetsk airport.
The Ukrainian “Cyborgs” defending the Donetsk airport. Photo: Sergey Loiko
January 22, 2015

The battle near Debaltseve intensified.

January 25, 2015

Shelling of Mariupol. Russian armed forces shelled “Skhidnyi” residential neighborhood in Mariupol. 31 people were killed, and more than a hundred were injured.

January 25, 2015

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.

February 10, 2015

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.

February 12, 2015

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.

Ukrainian soldiers leave Debaltseve for Bakhmut. February 19, 2015. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
February 18, 2015

Prisoners exchange: 139 Ukrainians were released.

February 21, 2015

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”.

March 17, 2015

The Battle of Marinka. Russia-backed forces tried to seize the town of Marinka near Donetsk, but Ukrainian units repulsed their attack.

June 3, 2015

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.

October 2, 2015

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 1181.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 955.

2016
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.

February 24, 2016

The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was outlawed by Russia as an “extremist organization”.

April 26, 2016

Prisoners exchange: Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko was released and returned to Ukraine.

May 25, 2016

1,785,740 internally displaced persons were registered as of June 6, according to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.

People in line at the checkpoint in Hnutove, the Donetsk region. Photo: UNIAN
June 6, 2016

The Trilateral Contact Group signed an agreement about disengagement near three settlements – Stanitsa Luhanska, Zolote, and Petrovske.

September 21, 2016

Disengagement of forces near Zolote

October 1, 2016

Disengagement of forces near Petrovsk.

October 7, 2016

A Normandy Format meeting. The road map of the Minsk agreements was discussed, but no new agreements were signed.

October 19, 2016

OSCE mission noted 2,900 explosions. The majority of ceasefire violations were recorded in the areas around Svitlodarsk, Horlivka, and Debaltseve.

December 18-19, 2016

Battle at Svitlodarsk Arc.

December 18-23, 2016

Prisoners exchange: 16 Ukrainians were released from captivity throughout 2016, according to the Security Service of Ukraine.

2016

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 564.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 112.

2017
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.

January 16, 2017

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.

Avdiivka after shelling
A field kitchen in Avdiivka. The city was de-energized as a result of the shelling. Photo: REUTERS
January 29, 2017

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”.

April 19, 2017

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.

June 27, 2017

Prisoners exchange: 73 Ukrainians were released.

December 27, 2017

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 354.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 117.

2018
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.

January 18, 2018

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.

April 30, 2018

The Attack near Zholobok and Krymske: four Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and seven were injured.

August 23, 2018

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.

August 31, 2018

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.

November 11, 2018

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.

November 25, 2018

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.

Kerch Strait incident
The captured Ukrainian sailor is taken to court in temporarily occupied Simferopol. November 27, 2018. Photo: REUTERS
November 26 – December 26, 2018

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 227.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 58.

2019
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.

February 7, 2019

Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected President of Ukraine.

April 21, 2019

Vladimir Putin signed a decree about the simplified procedure for obtaining citizenship of the Russian Federation by residents of temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

April 24, 2019

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.

May 25, 2019

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.

June 26, 2019

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.

Prisoners exchange:
Filmmaker Oleh Sentsov is getting off the plane at the Boryspil International Airport. He returned to Ukraine after five years of Russian imprisonment. Photo: Hlib Haranich / REUTERS
September 7, 2019

Disengagement of armed forces near Zolote started.

October 29, 2019

Disengagement of armed forces near Petrovske started.

November 9, 2019

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.

December 9, 2019

Prisoners exchange: 76 Ukrainians were released.

December 29, 2019

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 170.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 27.

2020
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.

March 9, 2020

Prisoners exchange: 20 Ukrainians were released. That was the last big exchange until the beginning of a full-scale war.

April 16, 2020

Ukraine became NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partner, along with Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden.

June 12, 2020

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.

July 27, 2020

The Trilateral Contact Group agreed on four additional disengagement areas and 20 demining areas.

September 2, 2020

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 107.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 26.

2021
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.

April 6, 2021

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.

April 8, 2021

Russian ships carried out coordinated provocative maneuvers toward the Ukrainian Navy in the Sea of Azov.

April 15, 2021

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.

April 24, 2021

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.

August 23, 2021

Russia deployed nearly 90,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied Crimea, according to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

November 2, 2021

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.

Ukrainian defenders
Ukrainian soldiers in the Joint Forces Operation area in 2021. Photo: Marian Kushnir/RadioSvoboda.Org (RFE/RL)

 

December 17, 2021

Summary of the year:

Number of Ukrainian military death: 110.
Conflict-related civilian deaths: 25.

2022
Russia started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

A Normandy Format meeting between the four countries’ representatives. No specific agreements were reached.

January 26, 2022

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.

January 26, 2022

Up to 150,000 Russian troops were amassed near the Ukrainian border.

February 2022

Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises “Union Determination – 2022”. 30,000 Russian troops and heavy weaponry were relocated to Belarus.

russian troops near the border
A satellite image shows a build-up of the Russian military near the Ukrainian border. January 2022. Photo: Maxar
February 10, 2022

More than a dozen countries told their citizens to leave Ukraine due to the risk of Russian invasion.

February 11-15, 2022

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.

February 13, 2022

Shelling of Stanitsa Luhanska, Marinka, Vrubivka. A kindergarten and a school were damaged.

February 17, 2022

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.

February 18, 2022

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.

February 21, 2022

The Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia granted Vladimir Putin a permission to use military force outside the country.

February 22, 2022

Ukraine stated that Russia withdrew from the Minsk agreements by recognizing the “independence” of temporarily occupied territories.

February 22, 2022

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.

February 22-23, 2022

The Ukrainian parliament declared a nationwide state of emergency starting on February 24.

February 23, 2022

Russia began a full-scale war against Ukraine.

February 24, 2022

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.

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