A year of crisis in Ukraine

26th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Ukraine's worst crisis since independence in 1991 has witnessed a full year of bloody turmoil.

Here are key dates in a conflict that has seen Russia seize Crimea and pro-Russian rebels launch an uprising in the east, triggering the worst standoff in East-West relations since the Cold War:

-- 2013 --

November 21: Ukraine's Kremlin-backed government suspends talks on an association agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

The decision triggers three months of demonstrations in Kiev's central Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and in western Ukrainian cities where pro-European sentiment runs strong.

-- 2014 --

January 21-22: Fierce clashes between security forces and demonstrators leave several protesters dead.

February 18-20: Bloodshed erupts, with a failed crackdown by authorities on the protests killing over 100 people.

February 22: President Viktor Yanukovych, accused of ordering the police to open fire on civilians, flees to Russia and is ousted by parliament.

February 27/28: Russian troops and pro-Moscow forces begin seizing ports and cities on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

March 16: Crimean residents, mostly Russian speakers, vote to join Russia in a referendum that Kiev and the West do not recognise.

March 20: Russia's parliament ratifies a treaty incorporating Crimea into Russia.

April 6: Pro-Moscow demonstrators seize government buildings in towns and cities in Ukraine's east, including Donetsk and Lugansk.

April 13: Kiev announces the launch of an "anti-terrorist" operation in the east.

May 11: Voters call for independence in referendums in Lugansk and Donetsk, rejected as illegitimate by Kiev and the West.

May 25: Ukraine's presidential election is won by Petro Poroshenko.

June 27: The European Union and Ukraine sign the association agreement whose rejection had sparked the initial unrest.

July 17: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over rebel-held territory, killing 298 people.

July 29: The EU and the United States broaden sanctions on Russia, which later bans most US and EU food imports.

August 25: Rebels mount a counter-offensive in the southeast, reportedly backed by Russian troops and heavy weapons.

September 5: Ceasefire signed in Minsk but violence continues.

October 26: Pro-West parties win big in a general election boycotted in the east.

October 30: In Brussels, Russia and Ukraine forge a gas supply agreement after fraught negotiations.

November 2: Separatists vote in leadership elections that Kiev and the West refuse to recognise.

November 12: NATO accuses Russia of sending fresh columns of tanks, troops and military hardware into Ukraine.

-- 2015 --

January 22: Donetsk airport falls to rebels

February 12: The rival sides agree to a peace roadmap in Minsk, backed by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

The IMF and Ukraine agree to a $17.5-billion (over 15-billion-euro) financial deal, bringing total international aid over four years to $40 billion.

February 15: The ceasefire comes into force but both sides trade accusations of breaches.

February 16: The EU ratchets up sanctions on Russia and Ukrainian separatist figures.

February 17: Fierce street battles break out in the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, where rebels surround government forces. The next day, Ukrainian troops retreat.

February 19: The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France meet to try to salvage the ceasefire as fighting continues.

February 21: The rival sides exchange scores of prisoners.

February 22: Fighting erupts around the key port city of Mariupol amid fears rebels are planning a major offensive.

February 25: The ceasefire shows signs of taking hold but the war of words grows between Russia and the West.

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© 2015 AFP

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