The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing war between Russia (along with pro-Russian separatist forces) and Ukraine. It began in February 2014 in the wake of the Ukrainian Dignity Revolution, and initially focused on the status of Crimea and parts of Donbass, internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. The first eight years of the conflict included Russia’s annexation of Crimea (2014) and the war in Donbass (2014–present) between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists, as well as naval incidents, cyber warfare, and political tensions. Following the Russian military build-up on the Russian-Ukrainian border from late 2021, the conflict expanded significantly when Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Following the Euromaidan protests and the revolution that led to the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, pro-Russian unrest erupted in parts of Ukraine. Russian soldiers without insignia took control of strategic positions and infrastructure in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, capturing the Crimean Parliament. Russia organized a widely criticized referendum, the result of which was the accession of Crimea to Russia. Then it annexed the Crimea. In April 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian groups in the Donbass region of Ukraine escalated into a war between the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists from the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The year 2014 in the month of August, unmarked Russian military vehicles crossed the border into the Donetsk Republic. An undeclared war began between the Ukrainian forces on the one hand, and the separatists it mixed with Russian forces on the other hand, though Russia tried to hide its involvement. The war settled into steady conflict, with repeated failed attempts at ceasefires. In 2015, the Minsk 2 agreements were signed by Russia and Ukraine, but a number of conflicts prevented their full implementation. By 2019, the Ukrainian government classified 7% of Ukraine’s territory as temporarily occupied, while the Russian government indirectly recognized the presence of its troops in Ukraine.
In 2021 and early 2022, there was a large Russian military build-up around the borders of Ukraine. NATO accused Russia of planning an invasion, which it denied. Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized NATO expansion as a threat to his country and demanded that Ukraine be banned from joining the military alliance. He also expressed Russian irredentist views, questioned Ukraine’s right to exist, and stated that Ukraine was falsely created by Soviet Russia. On February 21 2, Russia officially recognized the two states that installed separatists in the Donbass, and openly sent troops into the territories. Three days later, Russia invaded Ukraine. Much of the international community has condemned Russia for its actions in post-revolution Ukraine, accusing it of violating international law and violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Many countries have implemented economic sanctions against Russia or Russian individuals or companies, especially after the 2022 invasion.
The Ukraine-Russia uprising has its footing in the treaty that led to the 1999 soviet union desolution. After the 1999 dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia maintained close relations. Ukraine agreed to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon state in 1994. The former Soviet nuclear weapons in Ukraine were transferred to Russia . In return, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity and political independence through the Budapest Memorandum on Security Guarantees. As of 1999, Russia was one of the signatories to the European Security Charter, which “reaffirmed the inherent right of each participating state to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including alliance treaties, as they develop.” In the years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many former Eastern Bloc countries joined NATO, partly in response to regional security threats involving Russia such as the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, and the war in Abkhazia (1992-1993) and the First Chechen War (1994-1996). Russian leaders described this expansion as a violation of unofficial guarantees to Western powers that NATO would not expand eastward.
The 2004 Ukrainian presidential election was controversial. During the election campaign, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned with TCDD dioxin; He later implicated Russian involvement. Within November that same year, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner, despite allegations of vote rigging by election observers. During the two-month period that became known as the Orange Revolution, large peaceful protests successfully challenged the outcome. After the Supreme Court of Ukraine annulled the initial result due to massive electoral fraud, a second round of re-election was held, Yushchenko came to power as president and Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister, leaving Yanukovych in the opposition. The Orange Revolution is often grouped alongside other protest movements in the early 2000s, Especially within the former Soviet Union, known as the color revolutions. According to Anthony Cordesman, these Color Revolutions were seen by Russian military officers as an attempt by the United States and European countries to destabilize neighboring countries and undermine Russia’s national security. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the organizers of the 2011-2013 Russian protests of being former advisers to Yushchenko, and described the protests as an attempt to take the Orange Revolution to Russia. Pro-Putin rallies during this period were called “anti-orange protests”.
At the Bucharest Summit in 2008, Ukraine and Georgia sought to join NATO. The response among NATO members was divided. Western European countries opposed the offer of Membership Action Plans (MAP) in order to avoid antagonizing Russia, while US President George W. Bush lobbied for their acceptance. NATO eventually refused to provide maps of Ukraine and Georgia, but also issued a statement agreeing that “these countries will become membranes of NATO”. Vladimir aired strong resistance to Georgia and Ukraine’s NATO membership bids. By January 2022, the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO remained remote.