The Russo-Ukrainian War
The Russo-Ukrainian War
The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing war primarily involving Russia and pro-Russian forces on one side, and Ukraine on the other. Conflict began in February 2014 in the wake of the Revolution of Dignity, and focused on the status of Crimea and parts of the Donbas, which are internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. The conflict included the Russian annexation of Crimea (2014), the War in Donbas (2014-present), naval incidents, cyberwarfare, and political tensions. Russia gave military backing to the separatists in Donbas, but attempted to hide its involvement. After Russian military buildups near Ukraine's borders in 2021, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022.
Following the Euromaidan protests and subsequent removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22nd, 2014, pro-Russian unrest erupted in parts of Ukraine. Russian soldiers without insignia took control of strategic positions and infrastructure in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. On March 1st, Russia's Federation Council unanimously voted to petition Russian President Vladimir Putin to use military force in Ukraine. Unmarked Russian troops seized the Crimean Parliament and Russia organized a widely-criticized referendum, whose outcome was for Crimea to join Russia. It then annexed Crimea. In April, demonstrations by pro-Russian groups in the Donbas region of Ukraine escalated into a war between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics. In August, unmarked Russian military vehicles crossed the border into the Donetsk republic. The incursion was seen as responsible for the defeat of Ukrainian forces in early September.
In November 2014, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission reported convoys of unmarked troops and heavy weaponry in the separatist-held Donbas, which the Ukrainian military said came from Russia. OSCE monitors further stated they observed vehicles transporting ammunition under the guise of humanitarian aid convoys, and soldiers killed in action being transported back to Russia. According to The Moscow Times, Russia tried to intimidate and silence human rights workers reporting Russian soldiers' deaths in the conflict. OSCE reported its observers were denied access to areas held by "combined Russian-separatist forces".
In late 2015, the Russian government announced that its special forces and intelligence officers had been in the separatist-held Donbas, but insisted they were not the same as regular troops. In February 2019, 7% of Ukraine's territory was classified by the Ukrainian government as temporarily occupied territories.
In 2021 and early 2022, there was a major Russian military build-up around Ukraine's borders. NATO accused Russia of planning an invasion, which it denied. Russian president Putin criticized the enlargement of NATO as a threat to his country and demanded Ukraine be barred from ever joining the military alliance. He also expressed other views, questioning Ukraine's right to exist and claiming Ukraine was wrongfully created by Soviet Russia. On February 21st, 2022, Russia officially recognized the two self-proclaimed states in the Donbas, and sent troops to the territories. Three days later, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.