5 things to know about the Russian-Ukrainian crisis


The Russian-Ukrainian crisis that began in 2014 has become a global priority after four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Donbass region by Russian forces.

The Anadolu agency explains the crisis between Ukraine and Russia in 5 points.

1- What is the root of the problem between Ukraine and Russia?

Russia fell out with Ukraine after the former Soviet state began to draw closer to the European Union.

Pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s fourth president, announced that he was suspending the association agreement with the EU in 2013 to prevent the country from turning to the West. This decision marked the beginning of a deep crisis in Ukrainian history.

Thousands of people gathered in Independence Square in Kiev for months to protest Yanukovic’s decision. Clashes have taken place from time to time between demonstrators, pro-Russians also took to the streets.

Yanukovych had to flee to Russia as the protests spiraled out of control.
As Ukraine is geographically divided between Europe and Russia, the Ukrainian people are divided into two poles, as pro-Russian and pro-Western.

The tension then spread to Crimea and Donbass. The Crimean Parliament has decided to hold a referendum which would allow Russia to annex Crimea.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia following the controversial referendum of March 16, 2014, despite objections from the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.

Pro-Russian separatists also claim control of eastern Ukraine, including the Donbass region, which they have controlled illegally for the past seven years.

2- Who controls the Donbas and why?

Pro-Russian separatist groups attacked pro-government troops in the Donetsk and Lugansk (Donbass) regions in February 2014. Both regions are densely populated by people of Russian origin.

According to the Kiev administration, the separatists received significant arms and ammunition from Russia.

The separatists claimed two so-called states, named Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, in a so-called referendum on May 11, 2014.

Russian military vehicles and heavy weapons entered the Donbass from the Russian-Ukrainian border, where the Kiev administration lost control. This situation, which Russia has denied, has also been included in the reports of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

How did the tension start?

The Paris Summit in Normandy format was held in December 2019, the first meeting in three years. During the summit, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France stressed a comprehensive ceasefire and their loyalty to the Minsk Accord.

The summit did not diminish the clashes, but Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE subsequently made a comprehensive ceasefire decision from July 27, 2020, which was maintained until 2021. .

However, this year, the military reinforcement of the Russian army on the Ukrainian border has once again exacerbated the conflicts in the Donbass region.
The murder of four Ukrainian soldiers by pro-Russian separatists on March 26 sparked the crisis.

Addressing the Ukrainian Parliament on March 30, Ukrainian Chief of Staff Ruslan Khomchak highlighted the growing number of Russian troops in the northern and eastern sides of the Ukrainian border and in the Crimea.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was moving its armed forces to its own territory, which should not bother anyone.
Meanwhile, in February, Ukraine blocked TV channels owned by Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician closely linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while imposing sanctions on him.

The country also announced a strategy to “save Crimea”.

4- What is the position of Western countries?

The EU and the US have reacted against the deployment of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border while supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

In a telephone interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression in Donbass and in the Crimea “.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke with Zelenskyy, reiterating his country’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, expressed concern about Russian military activities near the Ukrainian border.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also urged the Ukrainian president to express NATO’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Stuart Peach, head of the NATO Military Committee, traveled to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky and Homchak.

5- What do the parties want?

Minsk accords were signed in 2014 and 2015 to end the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Kiev administration.

The agreements included a ceasefire in the region, an exchange of prisoners while allowing the Kiev administration to make a constitutional amendment that would give Donbass special status. Pro-Russian separatists, on the other hand, were supposed to withdraw their weapons at the Ukrainian-Russian border.

However, implementation of the agreements was hampered, with both sides accusing each other of violating the ceasefire.

In a phone call with Stoltenberg, Zelensky called attention to the importance of a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) and said that NATO is the only way to put end to the war in the Donbass.

Ukraine is currently one of NATO’s six Enhanced Opportunities Partners, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden.

Russia sees Ukraine’s entry into NATO as a threat to itself.

As of February 15, 2020, more than 4,100 Ukrainian soldiers, 5,650 pro-Russian separatists and more than 13,000 civilians had been killed in the clashes.

* Written by Iclal Turan in Ankara.

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Christi C. Elwood