Ukraine Crisis Explaination: Timeline (2008-2015) Russia involvement

Introduction

Ukraine has never existed independently and its existence has always vacillated between Europe and Russia. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the centre of gravity in the region shifted to Moscow, and since then, Russia has been a force on the global scene. 

In modern times, Ukraine had an independent existence only for a limited period in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Post the Second World War in Europe, Ukraine has the second largest area and below Ukraine was the Crimean peninsula. 

Ukraine Crisis

In the period from 1853 to 1856, the region witnessed the Crimean War, in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. 

The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. 

The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church, The long-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at the Ottoman expense.

From 1917 to 1921, Russia witnessed the Russian revolution, during which Ukraine vacillated and drifted under the control of Austria-Hungary Empire and the Polish empire. Post-1921, Ukraine again came under the control of Russia and remained there for some time Crimea was controlled by Russia, but in 1954, there was the transfer of power, annexing Crimea to Ukraine, Russia's Nikita Khrushchev decided to hand over Crimea to be controlled by Ukraine because Crimea was dependent upon Ukraine for all ts basic needs. Khrushchev was of the opinion that such a mechanism would be useful for the administration of Crimea and would not create an issue for Russia because Ukraine was under Russian control. This mechanism prevailed until 1991. 

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the erstwhile Russian satellite states began to assert independence. Ukraine too asserted independence but was vacillating between having a pro-Russian or pro-eurozone regime. In the period after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, in a referendum in Ukraine, 90 per cent people voted in favour of separation from Russia. Since then, till 2004, Ukraine has vacillated and remained a state with loose control.

In 2004, Ukraine witnessed elections where Yanukovych won and initiated his rule. The election of Yanukovych was challenged by Yushchenko, who launched a protest against Yanukovych called as Orange Revolution. The Orange Revolution led to re-election in Ukraine where Yushchenko won. In 2010, Ukraine had the next election. In the 2010 election, Yushchenko lost while Yanukovych won.

Yanukovych was a pro-Russian leader, In 1994, Russia and NATO entered into an agreement that neither would resort to expansion in Europe. In 1998, Russia and Crimea entered into an agreement where Crimea agreed to allow Russia to station 25,000 Russian soldiers in Crimea near the Black Sea. This led NATO to initiate expansion and extend NATO membership to Poland and Hungary, In 2004, NATO expanded by offering memberships Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. 

Ukraine Crisis 2008

In 2008, the US initiated the process to bring Ukraine into the fold of NATO. In 2008, Ukraine has led b Yushchenko, who was a pro-US leader. As a consequence, the Russians entered into an agreement with Crimea where Crimea offered Russia access to a part of Sevastopol in the Black Sea region. 

As per the agreement, Russia would maintain a Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and such Russian presence would remain undisturbed till 2042. 

Ukraine Crisis 2013

As this expansion and counter-expansion b NATO and Russia unfolded in 2013, the US-backed eurozone offered Ukraine a membership to the EU.

This offer was made to Yanukovych, a pro-Russia leader, in power since 2010. Russia saw this offer an indirect attempt by NATO to reach Russia borders. As Yanukovych rejected the deal to allow Ukraine to be a part of the EU, a crisis began to unfold. 

In the independence square in Kiev, massive protests took place to seek a pro-EU decision for Ukraine. Russia supported the counter-protests and this led to violence in Ukraine leading to the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in November 2013. 

Ukraine Crisis 2014

As the conflict intensified in February 2014, Yanukovych fled the country, signalling a victory for the rebels. Witnessing the situation turning in favour of the rebels, Russia, in March 2014, instigated Crimea to undertake a referendum. 

On 16 March 2014, Crimea ordered a referendum and 95 per cent people in Crimea voted in favour of Crimes joining Russia. 

On 19 March 2014, Russia took over Crimea and used Crimea to assert power in the region The 5 per cent people who did not vote in favour of Crimea joining Russia were the Tartars. The Tartars are ethnic Muslims in Crimea who have always been at the receiving end of repression by the Russians In the 1950s, Stalin had crushed the Tartars and even deported them to Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania. Post-Soviet disintegration, the Tartars settled back in Crimea again. 

Since 19 March 2014, Crimea is under Russian control. The US and other western states allege that Russia has illegally annexed Crimea, In October 2014, when fresh elections happened in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko won the election. Poroshenko has favoured an equidistance policy and has maintained a distance from both Russia and the US. 

Over a period of time, the US to have realised its mistake of stirring up controversy in Russian backyard, Russia has tried to assert dominance on the entire issue. For Russia, Crimea and Ukraine are very crucial. The Russians get access to the warm waters of the Black Sea only through Ukraine and Crimea. Russia's northern stream and southern stream pipelines pass through there. These pipelines are lifelines for the European states of Germany, France and others. Russia supplies oil to the European states through these pipelines that pass through the region of Crimea and Ukraine. 

Ukraine Crisis 2015

The violence in Kiev, Luhansk and Minsk, along with other regions, has been under control since a 2015 ceasefire agreed upon between the rebels and others. However, the rebels who were armed by the CIA (which has pumped 5 million USD in the region) continue to possess arms as there has been no mechanism to take back the arms from the rebels

The Ukraine issue was a geopolitical conflict for dominance. The west has expanded through NATO aggressively and is at the doorsteps of Russia. An indirect attempt was made by NATO through the EU to penetrate into Ukraine. Russia lost its patience over NATO expansion and precipitated a crisis. Some scholars have observed that the crisis is only a beginning of a new energy war in Europe since the US is desperately looking for a shale gas market in Europe and wants to end the dominance of Russia in Western Europe. 

However, an assertive and rising Russia, as visible in Ukraine, Iran and Syria, is a pointer to the fact that the future could see the commencement of a new Cold War. The implications of the Ukrainian crisis on global politics are that Russia has tried to assert multipolarity and has conveyed to the US that it should learn to respect the opinions of others. Though India has not been a direct party to the dispute over the crisis in Ukraine, it has still maintained that it favours the Russian assertion of multipolarity. Multipolarity itself is a goal that the Indian foreign policy stands for. 

India has not condemned the Russian intervention in Crimea like most of the western powers as it believes that there are Russian interests in the region that need to be taken care of by Russia. However, nor has it openly supported the Russian invasion as stands for conflict resolution through positive dialogue.

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