Russian President Vladimir Putin offered support to Russian-speaking separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, which are part of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
By Sanjenbam Jugeshwor singh
Ukraine- the second largest country by area in Europe after Russia – was briefly independent in the early 20th century, before becoming part of the USSR in 1922. When the Soviet Union was collapsed, Ukraine once again declared their independence in 1991. But, Ukraine and Russia continued to retain close ties. In 1994, Ukraine agreed to abandon its nuclear arsenal and signed the Budapest Memorandum in Security Assurance on the condition that Russia, the United Kingdom and the United states would provide assurance against threats on use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. As a part of negotiation with the newly minted post-soviet Russian government, Ukraine returned soviet era nuclear weapons to Russia and allowed Russia to keep its Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea under a lease agreement. Ukraine in the post-soviet era then continued to develop its economic and diplomatic relationship with Western Europe. In 2018, NATO hinted at future membership for Ukraine and its fellow former Soviet Republic Georgia. Russia invaded Georgia soon after. Five years later, Russia was one of the signatories of the Charter for European Security where it reaffirmed the inherent right of each and every participating state to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance as they evolve. In 2004, Vicktor Yanukovych, then prime minister was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, according to a Supreme Court of Ukraine ruling. The result caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Vicktor Yannukovych, who challenged the outcome. During the tumultuous months of evolution, candidate Yushchenko suddenly became gravely ill and was soon found by multiple independent physicians groups to have been poisoned by TCDD dioxin. Yushchenko strongly suspected Russian involvement in his poisoning. All of this eventually resulted in the Peaceful Orange revolution, bringing Vicktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshesko to power, while casting Yunukovych in opposition. In 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out against Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO. In 2009, Romanian analyst Iulian Chifu and his co-authors opined that in regard to Ukraine, Russia has pursued an updated version of the Brezhnev’s Doctrine, which dictates that the sovereignty of Ukraine should not be much larger than that of Warsaw pact’s member states prior to the collapse of the Soviet Sphere of influence during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2009, Yanukovych announced his intent to again run for president in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election. He won and was inaugurated in 2010.
The Euromaidan protest began in 2013 over the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend the signing of the European-Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and Eurasian economic Union. Following weeks of protest Yannukovych and the leaders of the Ukrainian parliamentary opposition signed a settlement agreement on 21st February 2014 that called for an early election. The following day, Yanukovych fled from Kyiv ahead of an impeachment vote that stripped him of his powers as president. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered support to Russian-speaking separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, which are part of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Leaders of the Russian-speaking eastern region of Ukraine declared continuing loyalty to Yanukovych, causing the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine. The unrest was followed by the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the war in Donbas, which started in April 2014 with the creation of the Russia- backed quasi-states of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic .Putin’s annexation of Crimea peninsula located along the northern coast of Black Sea, was widely denounced by international community, which still recognizes the territory as being part of Ukraine. The fighting which has continued sporadically despite a 2015 cease-fire agreement has killed an estimated 14,000 people. On 14 September 2020 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, approved Ukrainian’s new national Security Strategy’’ which provides for the development of the distinctive partnership with NATO with the aim of membership in NATO. On 24 March 2021, Zelenskyy signed the Decree No.117/2021 approving ‘’strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Russia had said that a possible Ukrainian accession to NATO an alliance of European states with the U.S and Canada and NATO enlargement in general threaten its national security. In turn, Ukraine and other European countries neighboring Russia accused Putin of attempting Russia irredentism and pursuing aggressive militaristic policies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine on Wednesday the 23rd February 2022’s night, launching airstrikes and plunging Europe into a nightmare not seen since the darkest days of World war-II. Putin declared that Ukraine was not a standalone nation but rather ‘’an integral part of Russia’’ created by USSR. Why did we have to be so generous and then give these republics the right to leave?, the Russia leader asked at one point, making a clear reference to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict began with a major military build-up from March to April 2021 to February 2022. During the second military build-up Russia issued demands to the United States and NATO advancing two draft treaties that contained request for what it referred to a ‘’ security guarantee ‘’ including a legally binding promise that Ukraine would not join NATO as well as a reduction in NATO troops and military hardware stationed in Eastern Europe and threatened an unspecified military response if NATO continued to toe an aggressive. On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, its neighbor to the south west on the north shore of the Black Sea, making a major escalation of the Russo-Ukraine war that had been ongoing since 2014. Days prior to the invasion, Russia recognized two self-proclaimed Ukrainian states, the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, followed by an incursion of the Russia Armed forces to the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine on 21st February. At about 03:00UTC (06:00 Moscow Times) on 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Eastern Ukraine; minutes later, missiles strikes began at location across Ukraine including the Capital Kyiv in the north. The Ukrainian Border Service stated that its border posts with Russia and Belarus were attacked. Two hours later at around 05:00 UTC, Russia ground force entered the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by enacting martial law serving diplomatic ties with Russia and announcing general mobilization. The invasion received widespread condemnation, including sanction being imposed on Russia, while anti-war protests in Russia were met with mass arrest.
(Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is Asst.Prof. JCRE Global College, Babupara, Imphal. The writer can be reached at [email protected])