The Russian President, Vladimir Putinannounced the recognition by Russia of the independence of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, in the east of Ukrainethe donbas.
The separatist republics, whose independence was recognized on Monday by Moscow, have been the bone of contention between Russia and Ukraine since 2014.
Russia, which has caused unprecedented tension in Europe in recent months with the concentration of more than 190,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine, supported the armed uprising eight years ago that led to war between the rebels and Kiev.
The Donbas, an area historically known for its coal mines, is a region bordering Russia and has been populated mostly by Russian-speakers since the creation of the Soviet Union.
This territory has been experiencing an armed conflict since April 2014 between pro-Russian militias and the Ukrainian Army, which, according to the UN, has caused more than 14,000 deaths on both sides, both military and civilian.
The conflict, which has intensified in recent days in the context of tensions between Russia and the West, has always been latent despite the signing in February 2015 of the Minsk Peace Agreements between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
These are the key dates of the Donbas conflict:
March 16: Crimea holds an independence referendum that paves the way for subsequent Russian annexation. The “yes” wins. On March 20, the Russian Duma or Chamber of Deputies ratifies the agreement by which the peninsula is incorporated into Russia. Ukraine definitively withdraws its troops from Crimea on March 24.
6-7 April: Pro-Russians seize the regional administration headquarters in several cities in eastern Ukraine: Donetsk, Kharkov, Lugansk, Slaviansk, and Gorlovka.
May 12: the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk proclaim their independence and ask to join Russia, after a referendum held between combats and without international observers.
May 25: Businessman Petró Poroshenko wins the presidential elections in Ukraine.
June 6: Formalization of the Normandy Quartet (Format), made up of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France, to resolve the war in eastern Ukraine.
July 17: Downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane with 298 passengers in Donetsk. The United States accused the pro-Russian rebels and an international commission concluded four years later that the demolition was caused by a missile facilitated by the Russian Army.
September 5: The Minsk Protocol is signed to secure the end of the conflict. It was signed by Russia, Ukraine, and the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The pacifist aspirations of the pact will be repeatedly violated.
September 14: The United Russia party, led by the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, wins the elections to the legislative chambers of the annexed Crimea and the port of Sevastopol.
26 January: Kiev imposes a state of emergency in Donetsk and Lugansk due to the escalation of the war.
11-12 February. The Minsk Agreements (II) are negotiated. A new “immediate and complete” ceasefire is requested in the conflict zones and the opening of a dialogue. Even so, ceasefire violations will persist.
2 October: Summit in Paris between the heads of state of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany for the withdrawal of weapons from both sides.
December 16: The Ukrainian government imposes a trade blockade on Crimea, prompting Putin to suspend the free trade agreement with that country.
March 3: The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic breaks commercial ties with the rest of Ukraine.
September 1: The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU enters into force.
August 31: Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko is killed in an explosion in the center of the breakaway region.
November 11: The pro-Russian interim leaders Denís Pushilin (Donetsk) and Leonid Pásechik (Lugansk) win the elections in their respective regions, considered illegal by Ukraine.
April 21: Actor Volodymyr Zelensky beat Poroshenko in the second round of the Ukrainian presidential election.
December 8: Ukraine and Russia resume negotiations on Donbas at the Paris summit. Two days later Putin and Zelensky set a timetable to achieve peace.
June 3: The Lugansk Parliament adopts Russian as the only official language of the territory to the detriment of Ukrainian.
April 3: Kiev and Moscow accuse each other of mobilizing large numbers of troops on the border for a possible offensive. According to Washington, it was the largest accumulation of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine since the 2014 conflict.
The Kremlin said at the time that it was conducting exercises in response to “threatening military activities” by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) near its borders, which included maneuvers by the Alliance in Eastern European countries.
August 23: 46 States and organizations, including NATO, sign the Crimean Platform in Kiev, in which the West demands that Russia return the Ukrainian peninsula.
December 16: The EU threatens Moscow with sanctions if it invades Ukraine.
7 January: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the risk of conflict between Russia and Ukraine is real.
January 18: Russia sends troops to neighboring Belarus for joint exercises near the Ukrainian border. Days later, Ukraine responds to Russian military pressure with maneuvers throughout its territory.
February 15: Russia withdraws some troops near the border with Ukraine, but the Duma demands to recognize the breakaway republics of Donbas.
February 17: The tension worsens. Fighting in Donbas increases, while Russia and the West intensify their diplomatic dispute: the number two of the US embassy in Moscow is expelled. US President Joe Biden says the probability of a Russian invasion is “very high.
February 21: The separatist entities of Donbas are recognized by Moscow.
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