More than four months of pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine
Here are the key dates in Ukraine since pro-Moscow separatists launched an insurgency in the east of the former Soviet republic over four months ago:
According to the United Nations the civil war has claimed more than 2,000 lives since April 6, while at least 285,000 people have fled their homes because of the conflict.
-- APRIL 2014 --
- 6: Two weeks after Crimea is annexed by Russia, pro-Moscow demonstrators seize government buildings in several cities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, including Donetsk and Lugansk.
Tensions had been high in the heavily Russified region since a pro-Western government took over in Kiev on February 22.
- 7: Separatists in Donetsk declare an "independent republic".
- 13: Kiev announces the launch of an "anti-terrorist" operation in the east.
-- MAY --
- 11: Voters call for independence in referendums held in Lugansk and Donetsk. The polls are rejected as illegitimate by Kiev and the West.
- 25: Most polling stations in eastern Ukraine remain closed during the country's presidential election, which is won by Petro Poroshenko.
-- JUNE --
- 27: Poroshenko signs a delayed association accord with the EU -- pulling the country decisively out of Moscow's sphere of influence.
-- JULY --
- 5: Insurgents abandon their bastion Slavyansk and move south after a shelling onslaught by resurgent government forces.
- 17: A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is shot down in rebel-held territory, close to the Russian border. Western nations blame the rebels, saying they had support from Russia.
- 21: Intense clashes as Kiev's forces push on with their "anti-terrorist" offensive around Donetsk and in the region of Lugansk.
- 23: Two Ukrainian Sukhoi military jets are shot down over rebel-held territory.
The Red Cross, the watchdog for the Geneva Conventions, declares it considers Ukraine to be in a civil war -- a distinction that means warring sides can be prosecuted for war crimes in international courts.
- 29: The European Union and United States broaden sanctions on Russia, accused of destabilising eastern Ukraine.
-- AUGUST --
- 5: President Poroshenko says that government forces have retaken three quarters of rebel territory in two months.
- 7: The centre of the besieged city of Donetsk comes under sustained shelling for the first time.
A Ukranian fighter jet is shot down as it flies over rebel-held territory.
Russia retaliates against the new Western sanctions, banning most food imports from the US and the EU.
- 11: Ukraine's military say they are close to completely surrounding rebel forces hunkered down in Donetsk and Lugansk, cutting off roads between the two cities.
- 14: Fierce mortar fire pummells the centre of Donetsk. The Ukrainian army cuts off Lugansk from the Russian border.
- 15: Ukraine says it has destroyed part of a Russian military convoy that crossed onto its territory in an incursion a day earlier.
Moscow denies the incursion and accuses Kiev of attempting to derail the delivery of Russian humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine. A convoy of some 300 Russian trucks, carrying, according to Moscow, 1,800 tonnes of humanitarian aid, remain waiting 30 kilometres for the Donetsk border post.
© 2014 AFP