Tomorrow marks eight years since Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, marking the largest land grab in Europe since World War II.
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Like the latest battle between Kyiv and the Kremlin raging, here’s a look back at how Vladimir Putin invaded and took control of the disputed Black Sea territory.
November 2013: Euromaidan protests
In November 2013, tens of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets of the capital Kyiv after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a planned association agreement with the EU, hampering a pro-European trajectory Europe of Ukraine.
The Euromaidan protests, also known as the Revolution of Dignity, are named after Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, in Kyiv, where the demonstrations took place mainly. Kyiv’s town hall has been occupied in the biggest protests since the country’s 2004 Orange Revolution.
The wave of protests continued, covering other cities and broader causes, including outcry against government corruption and irresponsibility.
February 18-20, 2014: severe suppression
Protests continued to be met with brutal repression by the government, with a an estimated 108 civilians were killed, multiple police sniper shootings, peaking on February 18-20. This led to the overthrow of Yanukovych, who had fled a week before arriving in Russia. Putin described the protests as a Western-backed “fascist coup” that endangers ethnic Russians, especially in Crimea.
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February 26-28, 2014: The Russian flag is raised
On February 26, Russia placed 150,000 troops on high alert. The next day, armed men seized the parliament of the ethnic Russian peninsula of Crimea and raised the Russian flag. A day later, they took control of two airports in the region.
March 1, 2014: Congress authorizes invasion
On March 1, Putin won Congressional approval to invade Ukraine, in response to what he called a threat to Russian lives. “We consider the behavior of the Russian Federation as an act of aggression directly against Ukraine’s sovereignty,” said Ukraine’s interim president at the time, Oleksandr Turchynov.
John Kerry, then US secretary of state, condemned Russia’s “astonishing act of aggression”. He “threatened economic sanctions by the United States and its allies to isolate Moscow” but also “calls for a peaceful resolution of the crisis,” the report said. Reuters at that time.
Within weeks, Putin annexed the area – a move widely seen as a rescue operation. He also encouraged Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to fight the armed forces of Ukraine. It is estimated that more than 14,000 people have died in the civil war since then.
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March 16, 2014: disputed referendum
On March 16, a controversial referendum showed a large number of voters in Crimea in favor of joining Russia – prompting Putin to say he would respect the will of the people.
Crimea’s main elections official, Mikhail Malyshev, said nearly 97 percent of the vote supported joining the Russian Federation, with turnout at 83 percent, reports BBC. However, Western leaders said the referendum was held in an atmosphere of intimidation after Russia violated Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.
The vote was boycotted by many Crimeans loyal to Kyiv and denounced as illegal by the EU and US. “We reject today’s ‘referendum’ in the Crimea region of Ukraine,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary at the time.
March 17, 2014: declaration of independence
A day later, the Crimean Parliament officially declared independence from Ukraine and applied to join the Russian Federation.
March 18, 2014: accession treaty
The next day, Putin signed an accession treaty with Crimea’s leaders and declared that Russia had the right to reclaim Crimea.
“In his speech to a joint session of the Russian Parliament, he compared Kosovo’s move to declare independence in 2008 and Germany’s reunification in 1990 – but in reality this is It was the first time a European country had seized territory. from another place since the end of World War II,” reported washington articles at that time.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said it did not “and will never recognize the so-called independence or the so-called agreement on Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation”.
March 24, 2014: Rubles in circulation
After the merger, Russia forced all Ukrainian banks in the region to close, leaving thousands without savings, wages and pensions.
On March 24, the ruble was officially introduced, and on May 27 it became the only legal currency of the peninsula. A year and a half later, the ruble is worth half of what it was before the annexation.
March 30, 2014: new time zone
On the evening of March 30, the peninsula skipped two hours to officially join the Moscow time zone. Hundreds of people gathered at the main station in Simferopol for the time-changing ceremony, “waving the Russian national flag and chanting ‘Crimea! Russia! ‘”, Report Reuters.
More than anything, the clock change is “a symbol of the larger change in the Crimean peninsula over the past few months”, says washington articles. At the time, Moscow “controlled Crimea’s currency and paid the Crimean government” – now it also controls time.
April 11, 2014: Constitution backed by the Kremlin
On April 11, Crimean lawmakers voted to adopt a new Kremlin-backed constitution.
“All 88 deputies present in the 100-seat legislature clapped and stood to sing the Russian national anthem after adopting the constitution during a vote at a session ignored by dissident legislators, ” speak Reuters at that time.
The law stipulates that Crimea will be “fully incorporated into Russia” on January 1, after a short transition period.
September 5, 2014 and February 12, 2015: Minsk Agreement
French and German brokers Minsk Agreements of September 2014 and February 2015signed by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany as a response to the annexation and fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk.
The agreements attempted to impose a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, Ukraine’s control of its border with Russia, and special political status for areas of the two sides. winter. Pro-Russian separatist forces involved in the fighting were also pardoned.
Seven years later, on February 22, 2022, Putin told reporters that the Minsk agreement “no longer exists” after he recognized the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956112/a-timeline-of-crimeas-annexation Timeline of annexation of Crimea