War in Ukraine since 2014
The war in Ukraine , also known as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the Ukraine conflict, is an armed conflict that has been going on since February 2014 and arose from steady steps of escalation in the eastern Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk . Combat operations there take place between Russian- backed militias , regular Russian and Ukrainian troops , and volunteer militias. The pro-Russian forces are fighting for the secession of the two people 's republics they proclaimed, Donetsk and Luhansk , from Ukraine .
From the outset, the Russian government has been accused of fomenting unrest during and after Euromaidan in order to destabilize eastern and southern Ukraine . Targets were Kharkiv , Odessa , Mariupol , Luhansk and Donetsk and the surrounding area. While the situation calmed down in Kharkiv, Odessa and Mariupol, armed so-called popular militias became active in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts . As in Crimea , special troops coming from Russia were involved. Even according to the assessment of a commander of such a unit, the war in eastern Ukraine did not start from the Donbass residents themselves, but from these armed units. Russia supports these militias by infiltrating irregulars and by supplying everything from heavy weapons to tanks, while the USA in turn supports the Ukrainian army for defense, among other things. with anti-tank guided missiles . Based on all known evidence, the Russian media close to the state no longer denied the presence of Russian soldiers from September 2014, but instead spread the narrative that the soldiers were fighting there "in their free time".
Since January 2015, the Ukrainian parliament has given the militias equal rights to terrorists . In June 2014, the UNHCHR lamented the atmosphere of fear created by the militias in the areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government, with killings, torture and other human rights violations and, on July 28, the total collapse of law and order, and spoke of a reign of terror by the armed forces Groups over the population with deprivation of liberty, kidnapping, torture and execution. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the affected areas. 298 civilians died when pro-Russian militias shot down civilian Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014.
At the beginning of August 2014, Ukraine was able to blockade large parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Subsequent substantial reinforcements from Russia at the end of August enabled the pro-Russian forces not only to burst the siege rings, but also to capture areas in the south where there were hardly any known secessionist tendencies.
At the beginning of September 2014, the Minsk Protocol (“ Minsk I ”) brought a fragile ceasefire into effect, which was to be monitored by the OSCE ; nevertheless, 1,300 gunmen and civilians died in a period up to mid-December. At the end of January 2015, the OSCE, with unusual clarity, blamed the separatists for another failure to implement the agreement. For its part, Russia refused to allow the OSCE to monitor the border as agreed.
Despite the renewed Minsk II ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015, OSCE observers did not record a single day before September 2015 when the guns were actually silent however, can only be pursued on the Ukrainian side. From September 1, 2015, a ceasefire agreed again by the contact group was mostly observed until the beginning of November, after which hostilities picked up again. In June and July 2016, the death toll rose to its highest level in a year. During the entire period in which this "full ceasefire" was in force, the number of people killed doubled until October 2016.
In the further period until the end of 2019, soldiers and civilians died almost every day and heavy weapons were used. Fighting had regularly increased in late autumn and in 2018 up to a thousand ceasefire violations were counted per day. At the beginning of 2020, during the validity of what is now the 21st ceasefire, the number of ceasefire violations fell during individual days, while others even exceeded the previous year's average.
In 2018, OSCE observer head Hug spoke of a "strategic reality", although the people affected by no means believed in these "artificially drawn lines". He quoted them as saying: "This is not our conflict." He was of the opinion that the violence " be stopped at any time” is a question of political will. This happened in Minsk in the summer of 2020; another attempt at a “full and comprehensive” ceasefire actually led to an absolute reduction in ceasefire violations immediately after it came into effect on July 27. Within two weeks there were only 276 ceasefire violations compared to 8,097 in the previous two weeks. From August to November 2020, the monthly average was constantly below 5 percent of the previous year.
As of 2021, Russia mobilized around 100,000 soldiers and heavy weapons to the Ukrainian border. Ukraine, the EU and NATO criticized this deployment and appealed to Putin to refrain from aggression and to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity.
After the Ukrainian government 's surprise announcement that it would postpone the signing of the association agreement with the European Union , demonstrations in Kiev in late autumn 2013 (after initial police violence against student protests on December 1, 2013) grew into widespread mass protests calling for greater European integration pronounce The later violent protests were increasingly directed against the government of Ukraine under President Viktor Yanukovych , which was perceived as corrupt . On February 18, 2014, the situation escalated, guns were used on both sides and at least 77 people died.
To settle the conflict, Yanukovych, the opposition and the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland ( Weimar Triangle ) signed the treaty of February 21 . That same night, Yanukovych fled from Kiev, first to Kharkiv. On February 22, he tried to leave the country from Donetsk, but was prevented from leaving. On the same day he was declared deposed by the Ukrainian parliament .
Russia complied with Yanukovych's request to be taken to Russia. In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of "rescuing from death" and "providing heavy machine guns to avoid talking too much," and the Russian government declared on February 27 that Yanukovych was under Russian protection. From a Russian point of view, his dismissal was illegal because no impeachment proceedings were carried out in accordance with Articles 108 and 111 of the Constitution of Ukraine , and there was an “unconstitutional coup” in Ukraine.
On February 27, the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, elected an interim government headed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk . No longer represented in the cabinet was the Party of Regions , which had been in government until then and was based on Russia. Its parliamentary faction in the Rada was weakened after at least 72 MPs left and joined the opposition with the communists .
Parliament had already decided on February 23, 2014 to downgrade the status of the Russian language, but the necessary amending law was blocked with a veto by interim President Oleksandr Turchynov . Thus, Russian never lost its official status in the south and east of the country.
On March 18, Yatsenyuk responded to demands from the party-political opposition and, in a speech addressed to the people of eastern Ukraine, promised a new constitution that would give the regions more independence. The main goal of the demonstrators there was not union with Russia, but more independence from the central government. According to the participants, the Russian flags at demonstrations were not to be understood as meaning that one wanted to become part of Russia, but as an "answer to the European flags on the Maidan". Across the country, supporters of a rapprochement with Europe came from a young, bourgeois and urban middle class, while those opposed to the EU tended to come from a rural and often older or underprivileged population.
In mid-April, Putin spoke of the existence of a historical region called Novorossiya (which existed more than 200 years ago, from 1755 to 1789) in south-eastern Ukraine. Such interpretations of history drew a lot of attention in Ukraine due to the "real external threat to Ukraine" and, according to commentators, was reminiscent of Putin's earlier statements that southern Ukraine was "only inhabited by Russians" and the country from former Polish territories, Czechoslovakia , Romania and Russia exist. As recently as 2014, Putin referred to a “traditional zone of influence in Russia”. The Russians "have considered us their estate for 350 years," commented Leonid Kravchuk , President of Ukraine from 1991 to 1994. A major reason for Russia's behavior is the fear of the power elite in the Kremlin of a citizens' revolution in Russia. Successful democratization in sister country Ukraine would serve as a role model for Russia, which the Kremlin wants to prevent by destabilizing Ukraine.
A survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) between April 8 and 16, 2014 in the eight eastern and southern Ukrainian oblasts revealed that only 11.7% of respondents had more or less strong sympathy for the track down armed occupiers of public buildings in their region; in Donetsk and Luhansk regions it was 18.1% and 24.2% of respondents respectively. 15.4% of respondents are in favor of their respective oblast joining the Russian Federation, 27.5% in Donetsk and 30.3% in Luhansk. 41.7% of respondents see the Euromaidan riots simply as “civic protests against corruption and tyranny of the Yanukovych dictatorship”, in Donetsk 20% and in Luhansk 26.8%. However, 46% of those questioned rated these events as a " coup d'état organized by the opposition with the help of the West ", in Donetsk even 70.5% and in Luhansk 61.3%.
Political and military events
The course of events can be divided into phases; The first (counter) demonstrations were directed at the end of November 2013 against the Euromaidan's demands for their resignation and were intended to support the government – also on its way “to Europe”. At the demonstration on November 30, 2013 in Kharkiv , the 40,000 participants, some of whom were brought by bus, are said to have received compensation of UAH 50 for the one-hour action or were employees of the public administration and not really there voluntarily.
In a further phase, demonstrations took place that were called pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian, whereby the pro-Russian concerns remained unclear in their exact aim regarding the degree of autonomy and Russian flags were partly used only as a counterweight to European flags . The number of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators was roughly balanced (see section and table Occupations and demonstrations in March and April 2014 ); Ukrainians traveled to other parts of the country for the counter-demonstrations, while participants in the pro-Russian demonstrations came in part from Russia.
Administrative buildings were stormed in several cities at the same time. The government suspected Russian agents to be behind the coordination and, in part, execution. In Kharkiv , the city theater was once stormed instead of the administration, with obvious ignorance of the place. Around April 12, several police stations were also attacked, again simultaneously. From that moment on, more and more guns were in circulation. Pro-Russian activists often wore ribbons or flags in the colors of the Saint George ribbon , which has been used by the Kremlin since 2004 as a mass symbol of Russian unity and was originally in Russia a commemoration of the victory over German fascism. The Interim Government of Ukraine was of the opinion that "members of the intelligence services of the Russian Federation lead and direct the armed forces". The local reporter said: "I can't say whether the actions were remotely controlled from Moscow or whether secret service officers were active. The Russians certainly have the opportunity to do that, and if they didn't want all this to happen here, it wouldn't happen."
On April 15, after an amnesty expired, the army launched a first action against the gunmen, but this failed because the troops were neither equipped nor trained for such an operation in the midst of civilians. The action was later resumed when, on May 2, both sides were already using heavy weapons and attack helicopters of the army in Sloviansk were shot down by anti-aircraft missiles . There were also riots in Odessa on May 2, 2014 , in which 42 people died during the fire at the trade union building. This worst single event outside of armed conflict was henceforth referred to by the Russian side as a "genocide".
The armed men never really had an area under control, the actions were selective and even in the city of Donetsk there were government bases and functioning Ukrainian authorities at all times until mid-July. The phrase "Everyone is appointed to some post and nobody knows why" described the chaos in the "Donetsk People's Republic" in May. On May 26, the gunmen attempted to take Donetsk airport but were fiercely opposed by the army. Of about 50 dead among the gunmen, about 30 were brought back to Russia. Meanwhile, the public administration had to perform its tasks under difficult conditions, people had a difficult everyday life and suffered from crime and the risk of a collapse in public services. As a result, the number of refugees increased. At the end of May 2014, around 200 people had died in the conflict.
Around June 13, battle tanks appeared among the armed men for the first time, although Russia had to be assumed to be their origin. Ukraine had long complained that fighters and weapons were seeping into the country via the Russian border . A ceasefire by government forces lasted June 21-30, poorly enforced by Separatist gunmen. However, no negotiated solution was reached in these 10 days, whereupon President Poroshenko declared that the country would now be freed from "terrorists, violent criminals and marauders". By July 7, several cities had been evacuated, and some of the gunmen still in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas were prevented from crossing the border by Russia. In the population, which had primarily demanded more regional decision-making options during the initial demonstrations, support for the irregulars seemed to have diminished even further.
In August 2014, a new phase in the conflict began with greatly increased Russian support, in which Ukrainian forces were pushed back after they had been able to harass the militias by gaining terrain. The pro-Russian militias are not only supported by Russia through war propaganda, but also through the deployment of regular Russian soldiers, which the Russian government denies: There is no “direct support” of the militias and no regular Russian soldiers in Ukraine who are “on duty “ be. Killed or captured Russian soldiers were in Ukraine "in their free time". According to Ukrainian sources, on August 25 tanks from Russia entered the area around Mariupol, which had been quiet since mid-June, far removed from other irregular operations. Nevertheless, Russia repeatedly declared that it was “not a party to the conflict”.
As early as May 2014, Germany had also described the closure of the Russian border as the most important measure – it was also one of the points in the Minsk Protocol signed in September 2014 (“Minsk I”) , but even in December 2014 this point “was not yet correct been tackled,” although the OSCE Chief Negotiator called it a prerequisite. Russia even declared that "guarding the Russian-Ukrainian border by international observers (is) not possible."
On February 12, 2015, a renewed attempt at de-escalation and pacification was made in Minsk with the signing of a new ceasefire (“ Minsk II ”). The withdrawal of heavy weapons, which was once again agreed upon, and their whereabouts were documented by the OSCE on the Ukrainian side through repeated visits. As of mid-March 2015, the OSCE had no information on the militia's whereabouts of the heavy weapons. The ceasefire was only largely observed after a new agreement from September 1, 2015, but the OSCE continued to monitor main battle tanks in the occupied areas that did not correspond to the areas of retreat, with the OSCE drones being repeatedly and continuously electronically jammed until they lost control.
On June 4, 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law allowing the stationing of UN or EU peacekeeping forces in the country. As early as August 2015, President Poroshenko stated that the OSCE observers were not sufficient to secure the ceasefire. In the fall of 2016, Russian President Putin at least reflected on the OSCE's self-defense armament.
In early December 2016, the Head of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug, made it clear, in the strongest possible diplomatic language, that "men in uniforms and suits" who claimed to represent the interests of the people were responsible for civilians in the conflict zones and fail to take on this responsibility. Humanitarian aid would also be hampered. Even in February 2018, Hug spoke identically of a war in which people did not understand why they were being shot at and that people did not believe in artificially drawn lines; they didn't distrust the civilians on the other side, they mistrusted decision-makers and said: "This is not our conflict . " Region would be "socially and economically destroyed".
At the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, the conflict escalated, in particular due to threatening actions by Russia.
First reactions of the Ukrainian interim government from March 2014
To combat secessionist efforts, their leaders were arrested and charged. Among those arrested was former Kharkiv Oblast governor Mykhailo Dobkin , who on 25 February 2014 announced his candidacy for the presidential elections . Demonstrations were temporarily banned, as was the broadcasting of Russian television channels on the Ukrainian network. On March 15, Ukrainian interim President Oleksandr Turchynov blamed "Kremlin agents" for the mass protests and warned of a Russian invasion in the east of the country. Russia has been accused of inciting separatism in the country with traveling instigators along the borders - the creation of a Ukrainian national guard was supposed to serve, among other things, for border protection.
On March 16, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk threatened the Russian separatist ringleaders: "We will find them all - even if it takes a year or two - and hold them accountable and charge them in Ukrainian and international courts." On March 18 wanted Andriy Parubiy , Secretary of the Security and Defense Council, introduce a visa requirement for Russian citizens. A few days earlier there had been media reports that Russians had crossed the border in buses to demonstrate against the revolutionary movement from Kiev and for a union with Russia. On March 20, however, Yatsenyuk spoke out against the visa requirement because a large number of citizens - primarily those in the south and east of the country who work in Russia or have relatives - are very interested in maintaining visa-free travel. It was not until April 17, 2014 that the Ukrainian interim government imposed stricter entry controls for male Russian citizens between the ages of 16 and 60 and for residents of Crimea.
On March 20, the interim government ordered members of the so-called “Self-Defense Forces” of Kiev's Independence Square to hand over all illegal weapons by the following day.
After the “Donetsk People's Republic” was proclaimed, interim President Turchynov declared on April 7 that a secession along the lines of Crimea would not be permitted. All counter-terrorism measures will be taken against those who have taken up arms. On April 11, Turchynov announced that the Ukrainian army would be deployed against the gunmen.
Federalization of Ukraine and constitutional reform
On March 18, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised decentralization and more powers in a speech addressed to the population of eastern Ukraine. This will be part of the new constitution. Local idiosyncrasies in areas such as education , culture , history and heroes should also be taken into account . On March 21, in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung , Yatsenyuk declared that the demand for "more federalism " was a move by Moscow and "the first step in destroying Ukrainian sovereignty ."
On April 11, Yatsenyuk and presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko agreed to publish the draft of a new Ukrainian constitution before the May 25 presidential elections . According to Poroshenko, the new constitution should bring more decentralization in the sense of greater autonomy for local governments. On April 14, 2014, Ukraine's interim president, Turchynov, said he did not rule out a referendum on a possible federalization of Ukraine. Turchynov noted that he was "convinced that the clear majority of Ukrainians would vote for an indivisible, independent, democratic and united Ukraine". At the same time, Vitali Klitschko spoke out against a referendum and in favor of “resolutely continuing [the anti-terrorist operation]. On May 6, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament rejected the government's proposal to hold a nationwide referendum on decentralization on May 25 at the same time as the election of the president. The faction of the Communist Party was expelled from the hall before the vote “because of separatist statements”.
In April 2014, the Ukrainian side began setting up paramilitary volunteer groups named after the Ukrainian regions from which most of the recruits came; The Dnipro Battalion was set up in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast with the support of the governor Ihor Kolomojskyj . The Donbass Battalion , founded by Semen Sementchenko , originated from the Donbass . The Azov Battalion, now the Azov Regiment , was raised at Berdyansk in the Sea of Azov region . These units were formally subordinate to the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior and the National Guard and have been deployed in eastern Ukraine since May 2014. On June 29, members of these combat units demonstrated in Kiev against an extension of the ceasefire decreed by President Poroshenko . They called on the Ukrainian president to impose martial law and resume the suspended so-called anti-terrorist operation against pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine. Donbass battalion commander Sementchenko threatened Poroshenko if he didn't take action. Politician Oleh Lyashko sworn in battalion Shakhtar on July 8 in Dnepropetrovsk . At the beginning of July 2014 it became known that the Prawyj sector also has a paramilitary volunteer association that is involved in the fighting.
In June 2014, the newly elected President Poroshenko confirmed the intention to decentralize in the 15-point plan.
Escalation after expiry of the amnesty period in April 2014
On April 14, 2014, the ultimatum with impunity expired, which the Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov let precede the "anti-terrorist special operation" against rebelling eastern Ukrainians; the focus should be on the city of Sloviansk . In Kiev, the leader of the Party of Regions , Alexander Yefremov, opposed the "army's use of citizens" and Yulia Tymoshenko feared that Russia would intervene.
On April 15, 2014, the Ukrainian army began its operations. The Kramatorsk airfield was stormed by airborne troops. Soldiers of the National Guard entered Sloviansk with tanks and armored personnel carriers. On April 16, the special operation near Kramatorsk came to a standstill when civilians repeatedly blocked the advancing military. Individual crews sided with the pro-Russian separatists because "they didn't want to shoot at their own people". Six Ukrainian army airborne vehicles were taken over by pro-Russian separatists. In a village near Kramatorsk, a column of BMD-2 airborne vehicles was surrounded by villagers and prevented from proceeding. The force's commander finally offered to unload the guns and return to his barracks. When trying to storm a barracks of the Ukrainian army in Mariupol , according to the Ukrainian interim government, three of the approximately three hundred insurgents were shot by the soldiers and 13 were wounded. 63 people were taken into custody.
The special operation was interrupted over Easter, during a first attempt at a diplomatic solution, which had been agreed in the joint Geneva agreement of April 17 by the foreign ministers of the USA, Russia, the EU foreign representative and the interim foreign minister of Ukraine. Separatists in eastern Ukraine have refused to clear occupied buildings directly. In agreement with the Russian Foreign Ministry, they first demanded the "surrender of weapons from the Right Sector militias" in Kiev, an end to the Ukrainian government's military intervention and the right to Russian citizenship. On April 22, 2014, interim President Turchynov ordered the resumption of "anti-terrorist measures" in the east of the country. Bodies of "brutally tortured" people were found near Sloviansk on the same day, including a Fatherland Party member kidnapped by separatist militias .
In April 2014, 19-year-old student Yuriy Popravka, 25-year-old Yuriy Diakovskyi and local politician Volodymyr Rybak, who tried to put the Ukrainian flag back on the Horlivka City Council , were kidnapped. Their bodies were later discovered in the Kasennyi Torez River and showed several signs of torture. One of the military leaders of the separatists, Russian citizen Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin (alias “Strelkov”), admitted in an interview in May 2020 to having given the order to have Ukrainian citizens Popravka and Diakovsky shot dead: “Yes, these People were shot on my orders. […] Do I regret that they were shot? No, they were enemies." He also stated that he was involved in the killing of local politician Volodymyr Rybak, who had previously been kidnapped for hoisting a Ukrainian flag: “Of course, as a person who actively opposed the 'militias', Rybak was in my eyes Enemy. And his death is probably, to some extent, my responsibility as well.” Girkin says he was previously the security chief of Russian nationalist oligarch Konstantin Valeryevich Malofeev . He was later dubbed "Minister of Defense," while Malofeev's former PR adviser, Alexander Borodai, was meanwhile "Prime Minister" of the "Donetsk People's Republic."
On April 23, the mayor of Sloviansk, installed by the separatists, Vyacheslav Ponomarev , admitted that among his fighters were volunteers who had come from abroad. He insisted they were not Russian special forces, but "friends" and "volunteers." On April 24, the Interior Ministry announced that five separatists had been killed and one Ukrainian soldier injured in fighting in the Sloviansk region. On April 30 interim President Turchynov admitted that the Ukrainian government had lost control of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions; they are in the hands of Moscow-loyal activists. The events demonstrated the "impentity and, in some cases, criminal infamy" of the police.
In the course of May 2, 2014 , a total of 48 people died in Odessa . Most of the fatalities (more than 40) were caused by a fire caused by Molotov cocktails in the city's central trade union building in the evening.
On May 3, 5,000 Crimean Tatars stormed the border between mainland Ukraine and Russia's annexed Crimea, despite Russian special forces attempts to secure the border. They wanted to enable their leader Mustafa Abduldschemil Jemilev to enter Crimea, which Russia had forbidden him.
The NZZ reported on May 10 that in Luhansk two civilians were shot dead at a roadblock by the insurgents and a ten-year-old child was seriously injured. Of note is the fact that up to this point, hardly any civilian casualties had been reported. In the meantime heavier and heavier weapons were used.
Controversial regional referendums on May 11, 2014
Pro-Russian activists announced a referendum for May 11, 2014 immediately after the so-called Geneva Declaration. In this survey, a vote was to be taken on the independence of a “ Donetsk People’s Republic ”, which was not defined more precisely. On April 27, 2014, insurgents in the neighboring Luhansk Oblast to the north-east proclaimed a “ Luhansk People's Republic ”; On May 7, 2014, Russia's president called on the separatists to postpone the planned referendum in order to "create the conditions for dialogue".
On May 8, the Ukrainian interim government declared its readiness for a national dialogue in which a "consensus on key issues of Ukrainian society" should be reached. However, she still does not want to negotiate with armed opponents of the government. Illegal groups that laid down their arms, released hostages and evacuated squatted buildings would face no criminal consequences.
During the survey, contradictory consequences of an approval were formulated: Roman Lyagin, electoral officer of the "Central Electoral Commission", declared that the status of the region would remain unchanged after the referendum, that it was only a matter of expressing the will to self-determination. On May 11, 2014, the interrogations of the pro-Russian activists were carried out: the way the votes were counted “under arms” and the incredibly quickly published results of almost 90 (Donetsk) and 96 percent (Luhansk) for autonomy were unbelievable. Interim President Turchynov declared on May 12, 2014 that the referendum was "a farce without a legal basis".
Events in May 2014
Steelworkers employed by Rinat Akhmetov , the wealthiest Ukrainian, marched in work clothes to five cities in eastern Ukraine on May 15. The men were quoted as saying that the aim was not to spread a political message, but to restore order. Pro-Russian paramilitaries from the Donetsk People's Republic and civilians who had supported them over the past few days and weeks have reportedly disappeared. Using their company vehicles, the steelworkers began dismantling barricades and went on patrols with police officers. Pro-Russian paramilitaries were expelled from the city of Mariupol .
On May 20, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine paid a state visit to Berlin, where they supported the Kiev position on the non-participation of the Donetsk and Luhansk separatists in the "round table talks", while President Vladimir Putin again insisted on their participation.
On May 26, just a day after Petro Poroshenko was elected president, separatist insurgents occupied Donetsk Airport . The newly elected President had wanted to make his first official trip to Donetsk, which was halfway spared, in order to mediate. The rebel positions were attacked by Ukrainian attack helicopters and troops. At least 50 rebel fighters were killed and 31 remains were returned to their native Russia.
On May 29, a Ukrainian army helicopter was shot down by pro-Russian forces outside the city of Sloviansk. 14 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, including a general. Ukraine's defense minister announced on May 30 that the army's deployment would continue "until normal life returns to the region."
More than 200 people had been killed in the region since the start of the Ukrainian military offensive in mid-April.
On May 27, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the governor of the Donetsk Oblast Serhiy Taruta said that meanwhile only 20% of the fighting insurgents came from the region itself, the remaining 80% of the "mercenaries" were "imported". . "Our clear expectation of Moscow is that it will use its opportunities to influence the various separatist groups and, together with the new Ukrainian leadership, stop the further infiltration of fighters and weapons across the Russian-Ukrainian border," said German Foreign Minister Frank -Walter Steinmeier on May 30th. In the cities of Slovjansk, Donetsk or Kramatorsk, which have been contested for weeks, young Ukrainians often face off against irregulars who have experienced combat and war. Ukraine reported that the separatists were also shelling residential areas in Sloviansk. Eighty percent of the fighters of the pro-Russian units “Vostok” (Eng. East ) and “Oplot” (Eng. Bulwark ) do not come from Ukraine, but from Russia and other CIS states.
On June 13, the government in Kiev and the US State Department accused Russia of supporting the pro-Russian militias with more irregulars and weapons, this time Russia had given the militias tanks and rocket launchers. Three T-64 tanks , apparently from Russia, were spotted in the Ukrainian city of Snizhne .
On the night of June 14, pro-Russian militias shot down a Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 on approach to Luhansk Airport using a 9K38 Igla surface-to-air missile and large-caliber machine guns. The nine crew members and 40 paratroopers were killed. Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced retaliation after the plane was shot down. "We will take tough and targeted action," declared the head of state. Ukrainian Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval said at a meeting with Poroshenko on June 14 that more than 250 separatists had been killed in the past few days. A "significant part" of them were Russians.
On June 17, Andriy Parubiy said Russia had replenished its troops on the border with Ukraine. According to NATO, several thousand Russian soldiers have been transferred to the border area. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu confirmed the deployment of troops on the Ukrainian border as a "security measure". The chairman of the Russian State Duma's defense committee, Vladimir Komoyedov , denied plans for an invasion .
Diplomatic relations between Kyiv and Moscow continued to deteriorate in June 2014. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deschytsia said Russia was not preventing reinforcements for the insurgents from crossing the common border. If Russia continues to contribute to the aggravation of the situation in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine must break diplomatic relations with Russia as a "last resort". While Moscow's actual influence on the separatists remains unknown, there are indications of involvement "somewhere between consciously turning a blind eye and actively supporting them," writes the NZZ. "Trucks with guns, armored troop transporters or even battle tanks" are not things "that a border guard simply misses if he just wasn't paying attention". Provocations at the border are feared in Ukraine, which could lead to open intervention from Russia.
Between mid-April and mid-June 2014, more than 300 people were killed in fighting between separatists and government troops and in attacks on public facilities, most of whom were civilians.
Government ceasefire from June 21st to June 30th
Beginning June 21, a week-long ceasefire was unilaterally declared by Ukrainian President Poroshenko, which the separatists initially did not accept, but which the Russian President – as before – welcomed with the proviso that the Ukrainian government should hold direct talks with the separatists. Throughout the ten-day ceasefire, Ukraine's main concern, better control of the border by Russia, was "discussed" by Russia as a possibility with international observers, except for the observation of 2 zones, each a few hundred meters wide only a month later, not implemented.
On June 22, in a televised address, Poroshenko offered talks to "moderate insurgents." On the other hand, no dialogue is possible with militant pro-Russian groups who have committed “acts of terrorism, murder or torture”, and the territorial unity of Ukraine is not up for discussion. The pro-Russian separatists declared that they only wanted to speak to the government in Kiev through Russia's mediation.
On June 23, the pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region also announced a ceasefire. In response to Poroshenko's offer to talk, the fire will be stopped by June 27. According to separatist leader Alexander Borodai , negotiations for a peace settlement could begin during the ceasefire. This was immediately preceded by a meeting of separatist leaders with the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini , who was then the OSCE representative, and the Ukrainian ex-president Leonid Kuchma , who was Poroshenko's envoy. On June 24, a Ukrainian government helicopter was shot down.
Several separatist representatives also made the “withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the contested areas” a condition for talks over the course of the following weekend.
On June 24, Putin called on the Russian Nationality Council to revoke the power it had been given months ago to deploy the Russian military.
The reactions of the gunmen to the ceasefire were contradictory, some groups had agreed to extend the ceasefire, other rebel groups apparently continued fighting. On June 27, insurgents captured an ammunition factory near Donetsk. The ceasefire was broken by the separatists 100 times and 27 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives. Despite the incidents, separatist leader Borodai announced that he had fulfilled commitments to Ukraine after releasing the two groups of OSCE monitors his people had previously abducted. However, the handover of several border posts on the border with Russia by the rebels to Ukrainian units, which was also requested, did not take place.
In a conference call with the Presidents of Russia, France and the German Chancellor on June 29, 2014, Ukrainian President Poroshenko complained that Russia was still smuggling fighters and war equipment across the border into eastern Ukraine and that separatist fighters were not adhering to the ceasefire. Die Welt reports on June 29 that Ukraine shot down a Russian drone near Luhansk. According to Russian statements, Putin addressed the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and "discussed" the possibility of having the border region controlled by an observer mission.
- Discontinuation of the ceasefire
On June 30, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine had not been extended, but that the "army's anti-terrorist operation against the separatists" would be continued. "We will attack and liberate our country," Poroshenko said. "This is our response to terrorists, violent criminals and marauders." From July 1, Ukrainian forces again shelled separatist positions in eastern Ukraine. The Air Force was also deployed, with anti-government forces reporting two planes shot down.
On July 3, the Ukrainian parliament confirmed Valeriy Heletei as the new defense minister. On the same day, members of the Donbass Battalion (see #Constellation of Volunteer Associations ) surrounded the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev. The reason given was that they feared terrorist attacks by pro-Russian groups. Meanwhile, the army exchanged artillery fire with the separatists near Sloviansk.
Retaking Sloviansk and advancing on Donetsk and Luhansk
On July 5, 2014, the Ukrainian army recaptured the city of Sloviansk from the separatists. These were focused on holding Donetsk and had also withdrawn from Kramatorsk. By July 7, 2014, the Ukrainian army captured other localities, including the larger cities of Druzhkivka , Bakhmut and Kostyantynivka .
After this advance, parts of the troops were tied down because they had to clean up mined buildings and streets in these cities. 700 mines on houses, bridges and roads had been defused by July 7 alone. Two railway bridges and a road bridge were destroyed by the separatists. RIA also quotes a colonel a. D., who says there will be a turn in Kiev's favor if Ukrainian government forces manage to take control of the border crossings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (This could prevent the implicitly mentioned supply of the Separatists.)
According to the commandant Strelkov, the "separatists", previously referred to as "volunteers", now received a salary of 5,000 to 8,000 URH per month, which was quite high for the region.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Health reported on July 9 or 10 that by then there had been 478 civilian deaths in the area of the anti-terrorist zone, including 30 women and 7 children. 1392 people were injured, including 104 women and 14 children.
On July 14, a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane was lost southeast of Luhansk, two crew members were killed, 2 were held by separatists, 4 others escaped. Ukrainian Defense Minister Heletej indirectly blamed Russia for the shooting down. The plane was hit by a rocket at an altitude of 6,500 meters and the separatists did not have such powerful weapons, so the rocket was probably fired from Russian territory or a Russian fighter shot down the Ukrainian transport plane. Separatists claimed responsibility for shooting it down.
On July 16, the Federal Chancellery announced that Russia had so far only insufficiently fulfilled expectations. Because heavy weapons continued to cross the border into Ukraine, the EU, like the USA, tightened their sanctions against Russia.
Shooting down of flight MH17 and further course of the war
On July 17, 2014, a Boeing 777 , en route as Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 , with 298 people on board was shot down east of Donetsk. On the same day, media around the world referred to contradictions in which the rebels had become entangled before their denial: separatist leader Strelkov had posted about the downing of a military cargo plane on the Russian online network VKontakte ; this entry was deleted a little later.
On January 10, 2015, a long research report by a team of experts from the Algemeen Dagblad from Rotterdam, the network specialists CORRECT!V and employees of Spiegel was published on the downing of flight MH17 . This report found that the downing of MH17 was carried out neither by the Kiev government forces nor by the "separatists", but by the Russian military itself from a place controlled by the separatists. The launch was carried out by surface-to-air missile by the Buk anti-aircraft missile system with the identifier 3x2 - the character x here stands for a number made unrecognizable by the military - of the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade from Kursk . The official investigation report confirmed the downing by the Buk system, while for the criminal investigation Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine agreed in September 2017 to cooperate further to identify those responsible.
In the days leading up to July 22, the major city of Seyerodonetsk , the town of Rubishne and the railway junction of Popasna in Luhansk Oblast, and the town of Toretsk in Donetsk Oblast came under the control of Ukrainian government forces, while the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic retreated towards Donetsk and expanded positions there in the cities of Avdiivka and Horliwka .
On July 22, US officials announced that they believe Russia's Rostov-on-Don is the logistical hub for Russia's support of the separatists. Tanks, rocket launchers and other weapons were sent to Ukraine even after the Malaysian passenger plane was shot down.
On July 23, 2014, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine announced the loss of two Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack aircraft . The two machines are said to have been shot down by anti-aircraft missiles from Russian territory at an altitude of 5,200 meters. The pilots were able to save themselves with the ejection seat. According to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN , a Tornado rocket launcher with other heavy weapons is said to have crossed the border, a system that otherwise only exists in Russia. Within a few days, several Russian drones were also sighted or shot down, which are used to control the fire of the separatists' heavy artillery.
Weekly in July several bridges were blown up in the Donbass and private facilities or infrastructure were destroyed. Several terrorist attacks on bridges outside of contested areas were also prevented. The railway company of Ukraine puts the damage from acts of terrorism at three hundred million dollars.
To substantiate its allegations of Russian involvement in the fighting, the US released on July 27, without comment, commercially available aerial photos from the provider DigitalGlobe that allegedly showed self-propelled guns and multiple rocket launcher burn marks on the Russian side of the Ukraine-Russia border. Directly on the pictures, impact craters in the Ukraine in Ukrainian troops were assigned to the firing positions in Russia. The interpretation of the images was left to the media. The statements were accordingly different; US media spoke of "Russian artillery", other media only of "Russian forces". According to the expert interviewed by Spiegel, the most important piece of information is “that no amateurs are at work here. You have to be trained to carry out such artillery maneuvers and rocket attacks. (...) The recordings do not reveal who trained them" . Bellingcat published a detailed study in December 2016 on 149 positions from which "without a doubt" Ukraine had been shot. A further 130 positions were not included in the secured shelling category, despite their visibility on commercially available satellite images, nor were positions more than 2 km from the border.
On July 30, 2014, Ukrainian President Poroshenko called on the separatists to hold talks in the Belarusian capital , mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka . In addition to former President Leonid Kuchma and representatives of the OSCE, the Russian ambassador in Kiev should also take part in these talks : the separatists did not give a clear answer to this offer
On July 31, 2014, the Ukrainian government claimed to have expelled the rebels from Avdiivka .
Western observers also estimated that Russia had increased its ground forces on the Ukrainian border to 17 battalions with up to 45,000 troops. Isolated sightings of Russian vehicles with peacekeeper symbols painted on them in the area have been interpreted as preparation for a possible intervention under the guise of a peacekeeping mission. According to the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian troops pushed the separatist groups back further and cut off the city of Donetsk from the rest of the separatist territory, but not in front of the holey border with Russia. As before, volunteers from Russia joined the separatists as mercenaries and heavy weapons were supplied from Russia.
On August 10, it was reported that the Ukrainian army had encircled Donetsk. On August 11, the German government warned Russia against "arbitrary aid to Ukraine" and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned Vladimir Putin against military intervention in Ukraine.
Russian aid convoy and border crossing of Russian military technology
On August 12, 2014, a Russian aid convoy of 280 trucks set out from the Russian military base Alabino in southwest Moscow, ostensibly to transport humanitarian supplies, to eastern Ukraine and was originally planned to reach the war zone through Ukrainian territory. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was willing to "take and distribute the cargo" and requested security guarantees and information regarding the cargo. Many trucks were barely loaded or even empty, which Russian authorities said was due to maximum payload and the need for reserve vehicles - a "ridiculous justification" for Russians for a type of truck known to be a workhorse and 12-time rally winner . The majority of the convoy crossed the border uncontrolled: On August 22, parts of the convoy advanced into Ukrainian territory without the consent of Ukraine. For security reasons, the Red Cross had refused to allow its employees to accompany the convoy, as requested by Ukraine. On August 26, 2014, the state news channel Rossiya 24 broadcast a TV report from the Luhansk Engineering Plant. There it was said that a machine factory had moved its production from Luhansk to Russia. In fact, after the few relief supplies had been unloaded, the trucks were collected in parking lots in front of machine factories. Journalists were no longer allowed near. According to local journalists, the trucks left the machine factories loaded. Ukrainian factories produced important parts for Russian tanks, aircraft and ship engines, the importance of Ukrainian supplies was already emphasized in December 2013 and on January 1, 2014 a Russian regulation came into force, which should help to reduce dependence on foreign countries.
Meanwhile, on August 14, the government in Kiev sent out its own aid convoy of 75 vehicles.
On August 15, according to Ukrainians, a Russian military column came under artillery fire in Ukrainian territory. Although the report was met with controversy, Russian troops are said to have lost more than 100 soldiers in the covert transport of ammunition for separatists, according to Russian human rights activists. On August 14, 2014, under the eyes of British journalists, 23 military vehicles crossed the border of Ukraine. In a video message on August 16, 2014, separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko announced that 150 armored vehicles and 30 tanks were about to be received. Zakharchenko repeatedly admitted that 1,000 Russian volunteers are fighting in the ranks of the separatists. On August 17, it became known that another military plane belonging to the Ukrainian army had been shot down by the separatists, and again it was claimed that they were receiving reinforcements from Russia. The spokesman for the Russian president, meanwhile, commented on the statements made by the separatist leader the day before and denied at least the delivery of military technology.
Ukrainian authorities reported the loss of another helicopter and the capture of two armored personnel carriers from Russia's 76th Airborne Division near Luhansk. Russian media immediately denied the report and stated that the Russian documents found on the vehicles were out of date for five years, but a journalist in the unit's hometown was able to photograph two new graves, and the funeral of a unit platoon leader was reported in Voronezh.
For the first time, NATO publicly accused the Russian Federation of sending artillery units across the border into Ukraine and using them against Ukrainian troops. Separatists paraded captured Ukrainian soldiers through the streets of Donetsk on August 24 in a gauntlet specifically forbidden by the Geneva Conventions .
Sudden reversal of the course of the war from mid-August
On August 24, 2014, a day after Angela Merkel declared in Ukraine that she wanted to "revive" relations between Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian authorities reported that their troops were based in Novoazovsk on the Azov Sea, on the border with the Russian Federation artillery fire lay. Russian battle tanks and armored vehicles, backed by insurgents, forced Ukrainian troops to retreat. Observers were convinced that the vehicles could only have advanced into Ukraine from the territory of the Russian Federation and that the city could not be shelled with the usual artillery systems from the known rebel positions in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities stated the following day that their own forces were engaged in combat with Russian troops trying to advance on Mariupol. Furthermore, ten soldiers of the 98th Airborne Division of the Russian Federation were captured 50 km south-east of Donetsk. Russian authorities again denied the information. However, following the denial, the pro-government news agency ITAR-TASS reported that Russian troops “accidentally” crossed the border on an unmarked stretch, according to a Defense Ministry source, and appeared to have put up no resistance when they were arrested by Ukrainian troops.
Regular Russian soldiers "voluntarily" fought for the separatists in Ukraine, according to separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko . The Russian human rights organization Memorial considers the voluntary participation of soldiers "on vacation" without the permission of the military leadership to be completely implausible. NATO also announced on August 28 that Russian troops had crossed the border into Ukraine. According to satellite images, artillery and other vehicles of the Russian armed forces crossed the border and about 1,000 soldiers advanced near Mariupol. The troops would have veiled their identity and wore neither national insignia nor other identification marks on their uniforms.
Polish President Bronisław Komorowski spoke of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. US President Obama said he was convinced that Russian troops had deliberately violated Ukraine's territory on several occasions in order to prevent the insurgents' military defeat.
On the same day, the press reported about the encirclement of around 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Ilovaisk, south-east of Donetsk . near Charzysk In conversations with residents of Ilovaisk, they said that it was Russian soldiers who fought with the Ukrainians as "peacekeepers". According to Ukrainian sources, 366 unarmed Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the "safe withdrawal" agreed with Russia.
On September 1, 2014, Ukrainian troops at Luhansk Airport reported an attack by a Russian tank battalion . After heavy losses, the Ukrainian troops withdrew from the airport. Ukraine blamed Russia for this .
The OSCE Observer Mission reported on September 4 increased military activity in and around Mariupol, heavy fighting in Shyrokyne (24 km east of Mariupol) and Besimenne (34 km east of Mariupol) between the Ukrainian army and irregular forces.
Events after the signing of the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014
On September 5, the Minsk Protocol was agreed, which provided for the freezing of the front under OSCE supervision, OSCE surveillance of the Russian border and a withdrawal of heavy weapons. The ceasefire remained fragile - more than 300 people died within a month, the first civilians less than 3 days after the agreement. After three months of this ceasefire, RIA Novosti headlined: "Putin hopes for soon ceasefire in Ukraine" By that time 1000 people had died. In Moscow and other Russian cities, thousands took to the streets on September 21 to protest Russia's official Ukraine policy.
Another Russian "aid convoy" of 220 trucks crossed the border completely unchecked in September, which the Ukrainians suspected was an armament of mortar shells and rifles. A fourth convoy reached the area in late October. On December 21, 2014, the tenth convoy had arrived, all largely unchecked. A German aid convoy with help for displaced people reached Ukraine in mid-October.
Donetsk separatist leader Zakharchenko said in October that his forces had captured 38 towns since the ceasefire agreement. NATO assumes that Russian troops were still in Ukraine on October 24. While the Russian President is “supporting” Ukraine's borders, more tanks have been moved from Russia to Ukraine. Every day Ukrainian authorities report up to 40 fire attacks by enemy troops.
According to RIA Novosti , various statements by the separatists expressed territorial claims, explicitly mentioning "liberate" and Mariupol , and the sentence: "The day before yesterday we started to return fire". Russian President Putin has said Ukraine does not need to "cling to one village or another" if it wants to preserve the country's unity.
On November 3, 2014, in reaction to the disputed elections in the east of the country, Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced a change in the Ukrainian government's strategy for dealing with the pro-Russian rebels. The separatists violated the Minsk Agreement. As a consequence, the government in Kiev will now "revise" its plan of action. The elections held in eastern Ukraine "dangered the entire peace process and significantly worsened the situation in Donbass."
The OSCE reported on November 12 that the militias had taken control of new areas since the ceasefire began and warned of the risk of the conflict escalating. Fighting continued around the Luhansk power station, the Luhansk-Donetsk road near Debaltseve and Donetsk airport . The UN Vice-Secretary-General said there was no doubt that the Russian-Ukrainian border is porous and this is making the peace process difficult. Convoys of heavy weapons and soldiers had entered separatist-held areas.
On November 30, 2014, Moscow sent the eighth aid convoy to eastern Ukraine with more than 100 trucks. According to the Russian news agency Interfax , Ukrainian customs officers checked the contents of the vans for the first time. On December 2, it was reported that, firstly, according to locally signed agreements, a ceasefire would come into force in both Donetsk and Luhansk from Friday, December 5th, and secondly, that German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier related to the Ukraine conflict proposed to NATO a crisis committee for talks with Moscow.
On December 4, 2014, Vladimir Putin held his annual state of the nation address in the Kremlin, threatening the West massively and speaking of the recovery of Crimea as a "sacred achievement". After that, Putin openly threatens the strength of his army.
On December 9, the government in Kiev unilaterally announced a temporary ceasefire for eastern Ukraine, which the insurgents in Donbass joined. In contrast to the ceasefire negotiated months ago in Minsk, which has been in force since September 5, the bilateral ceasefire that came about “informally” brought calm for a certain time before heavy fighting again in January, including at Donetsk airport broke out.
On December 23, 2014, Parliament voted to revoke Ukraine's constitutional non-alignment.
Second Battle of Donetsk Airport
September 28, 2014 is considered the beginning of this second battle for the extensive site. The dispute is representative of the failure of the ceasefire that had been agreed with the Minsk Protocol. All of the airport facilities were almost completely destroyed within three months by artillery and tank fire from both sides.
Elections in Ukraine
In Ukraine's parliamentary elections on October 27 , pro-European parties won a joint majority. The election could not take place in the separatist areas. The peace plan had provided for local elections there according to Ukrainian law, with December 7 as the date announced in mid-September.
Despite this, contrary to the efforts of the OSCE Contact Group, “so-called elections” were held on November 2 in the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as the OSCE put it. The OSCE ruled out observing the incident because it endangered the peace plan. This opinion was shared by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose speech and statements consistently placed the word "elections" in quotation marks . According to the chairman of the central election commission in Donetsk, foreign volunteers were also able to vote. Separatist leader Zakharchenko declared himself the winner in the People's Republic of Donetsk during the count; Igor Plotnitsky will lead the Lugansk People's Republic as the new and old head of the republic. Those who took part could take food home at symbolic prices after submitting their ballot. The Tagesschau commented: "Having to pay for voting is bad, having to pay for it with food is tragic." Only Russia recognizes the "election".
Fighting resumed in January 2015 and the Minsk II agreement
In mid-January 2015, separatists again broke the ceasefire and continued to attack Donetsk airport after December's proximity talks. Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko announced that he wanted to conquer more areas. The Ukrainian army launched a major offensive on January 18, intensified its attacks on Donetsk airport on January 19 and began a partial mobilization of 50,000 men. On January 25, the pro-Russian separatists launched a rocket attack on the port city of Mariupol , which claimed more than 30 lives, and announced a major offensive of their own. At the end of January 2015, the OSCE, with unusual clarity, blamed the separatists for another failure to implement the agreement. For its part, Russia refused to allow the OSCE to monitor the border as agreed.
On February 2, 2015, according to Deutschlandfunk news, the separatist leader in the People's Republic of Donetsk, Zakharchenko, announced a general mobilization that would increase the separatist troop strength to 100,000. At the same time, it was reported that, given the intensification of military conflicts, the United States was considering supplying arms to Ukraine, but this did not happen until 2018.
As late as February 14, the Debaltseve railway junction , which is located in the interior, albeit near the edge, of the territory occupied by the Ukrainian military on September 19, 2014, was particularly hotly contested. According to the Minsk II agreement signed on February 12, 2015 , the separatists should withdraw their heavy equipment from the vicinity of this place. In any case, from February 15, 2015 (12:00 a.m. local time) the guns should have been silent there as well, which was not the case. On February 17, 2015, Debaltseve was taken by the people's militias instead, breaking the agreement.
After Minsk II
On March 18, 2015, the OSCE complained that it had no information on the whereabouts of the militia's withdrawn heavy weapons. The exchanges of fire that continued in March and April 2015 were also concentrated in the region around Stanytsia Luhanska northeast of Luhansk, as well as in the areas around Donetsk and Pisky airports and the area around Shyrokyne east of Mariupol, where on April 2 the OSCE still had fifteen main battle tanks encountered by pro-Russian troops in the front area.
As early as April 2015, after a month of relative calm, worrying fighting broke out again, so that on April 13 in Berlin the four Foreign Ministers Laurent Fabius (France), Pavlo Klimkin (Ukraine), Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany) and Sergei Lavrov (Russia) met to “finally complete” the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In addition, in their joint final declaration, they spoke out in favor of strengthening the international observer mission in the crisis area.
In mid-May 2015, after fighting near Luhansk, two men were arrested who the Ukrainian authorities not only accused of being members of the 3rd Guards Special Reconnaissance Brigade from Togliatti , but who also testified to this to the OSCE. The men were due to be tried on terrorism charges but were replaced by Nadiya Savchenko in 2016 .
On June 3, 2015, the situation in and around the town of Marjinka escalated again, killing 24 people. An OSCE spokesman confirmed Ukrainian claims that anti-government troops initially moved their heavy weapons westward. Artillery and multiple rocket launchers were used by VRD troops from the city of Donetsk; Artillery counterattacks by Ukraine damaged civilian facilities in the city and caused part of the area's power grid to fail.
On June 13, 2015, the OSCE reported that fighting was spreading across the front line, while Ukrainian military spokesman Andrei Lysenko reported that 6 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed within 24 hours. In the strategically important port city of Mariupol , gas supplies collapsed after a pipeline was damaged by fighting.
On June 23, 2015, the Normandy format met in Paris . In a statement, it was stated that currently none of the conflicting parties is fulfilling the Minsk II agreements. By early July 2015, another 1,147 people had been killed since Minsk II came into force.
On July 9, 2015, the NZZ reported that the separatist forces had evacuated Schyrokyne after efforts had been made to demilitarize the town since mid-April.
On July 21, 2015, the conflicting parties in the Ukraine contact group in Minsk reaffirmed the withdrawal of heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery, up to 30 km from the front line, which had been agreed in February.
For example, despite the agreed ceasefire of July 21, 2015, at least five people died as a result of shelling on July 29, including four civilians and one Ukrainian soldier. On July 25, Ukrainian border guards at Berezove, near Donetsk, stopped a truck that had lost its way with hand grenades and ammunition. The driver and passenger were arrested and are being held on terrorism charges. One claimed to be a VRD fighter, the other claimed to be a Russian Federation soldier.
On July 31, 2015, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that more autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts was not against the Constitution of Ukraine. This is part of the Minsk II peace plan negotiated in February 2015.
For the first half of August 2015, the Ukrainian army reported 1,400 attacks in violation of the ceasefire agreement. On August 15 alone, 175 such attacks took place. Despite the ceasefire, more than 800 people died between March 2015 and August 2015.
Although the contact group agreed on August 27, 2015, that a new ceasefire would be in place for the start of school, fears of an offensive were feared, which was painted in flowery terms in the Russian state press even after the agreement had been reached. In other reports, in the run-up to the start of school on September 1, 2015, there were even fears that schools would be provoked by shelling. However, the ceasefire was largely observed, which was often commented on as a surprise. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk reminded that "a ceasefire is no more than a prerequisite for the Minsk phased plan" with the withdrawal of the irregulars and elections in the occupied territories conducted according to Ukrainian laws. Analysts linked the change to Russia's need to break out of international isolation, something that continued fighting news from Ukraine could not do. The "Chairman of the People's Soviet" Andrei Purgin , who was considered a hawk, had been deposed in the occupied territories during this period. As a result, however, the fighting increased again in the course of autumn 2015. A renewed attempt at a ceasefire on December 22, 2015 failed within a day.
In 2015, Russia began modernizing its own military airfields near Ukraine.
In the further period until June 2016, soldiers and civilians died almost every day. The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk reacted to the renewed intensity of the fighting in August 2016 on Deutschlandfunk by asking Europe for defensive weapons. At the end of August 2016, OSCE observers counted at least 996 explosions in a single day by 7:30 p.m. At the beginning of the school year on September 1st, calm had been hoped for and, as in the previous year, an armistice had been agreed upon and, for the time being, actually occurred. This ceasefire also began to crumble, and in the first week of November 2016 alone, the OSCE counted nearly 3,500 explosions of mortar shells, artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launchers.
In August 2016, Russia reported allegedly prevented terrorist attacks in Crimea. It is clear that shooting took place in the border region, with two incidents killing a Russian soldier and an employee of the domestic secret service and arresting people. In one of the alleged terrorist attacks, men in Russian uniforms fired and it was unclear whether they were deserters or regular Russian soldiers. Nevertheless, President Putin used the incidents to insinuate that Ukraine is not interested in negotiations. Further talks in the Normandy format are nonsensical.
The UN found that civilian casualties increased by 66 percent in 2016 compared to 2015. The head of the OSCE Observer Mission described the situation in September as "unstable and unpredictable". In mid-September, leading European politicians spoke of a seven-day ceasefire promised by Russia and Ukraine, which Kiev denied. The Ukraine complained that the control of the Russian border it had demanded had been downgraded to other points to be achieved by Walter Steinmeier, Chairman of the OSCE: In autumn 2016, the OSCE controlled only 2 crossings of the 400-kilometer-long border.
As of September 22, 2016, a (further) small withdrawal from the line of contact agreed by the Trilateral Contact Group should have taken place. The OSCE on September 24 confirmed demilitarization in Zolotoye, one of three "pilot" regions. The other two small towns included in the agreement are Stanytsia Luhanska and Petrovskoye, where an attempt failed in early October. Probably only here the 7 days of silence would have applied. Ten days later, four more attempts at Stanyzja Luhanska failed. The three pilot regions were each about four square kilometers on the 480-kilometer front.
In early December 2016, the Head of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug, made it clear, in the strongest possible diplomatic language, that "men in uniforms and suits" who claimed to represent the interests of the people were responsible for civilians in the conflict zones and fail to take on this responsibility. Humanitarian aid would also be hampered. The number of ceasefire violations remains high, had increased that week in late November, and 362 explosions of prohibited heavy weapons had been documented that week. After people had died every day in the last week of Advent, the volunteers also agreed to a ceasefire brokered by the OSCE over the Christmas period. The ceasefire that came into effect at 11 p.m. (CET) on December 23 was broken again immediately. The OSCE had been able to verify the deaths of 88 civilians as a result of combat operations throughout the year.
In late January 2017, fighting broke out over Ukrainian Avdiivka and separatist-held Makiivka . Both sides fired heavy weapons at each other, killing 15 civilians and militants in three days and ruined infrastructure in Avdiivka leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity and water in the freezing winter climate. An evacuation of thousands of people was then initiated.
On April 1, 2017, President Poroshenko unoptimistically ordered a ceasefire for the time of Easter in addition to the existing ceasefire, which led to a reduction in fighting.
According to DNR information, 127 people were killed in the first half of the year on the unspecified “territory of the DNR”. Its press service gave the number of local victims at 4,461 for the entire conflict.
In July 2017, the separatists in the two people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk announced that they would merge into their own state called " Little Russia ". However, the merger was not completed. In November 2017, the NZZ reported on a putsch in the Lugansk People's Republic that was said to have been supported by gunmen from the Donetsk People's Republic. In connection with this putsch, a unification of the two people's republics is said to have been the subject of speculation again.
In early November 2017, the head of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug, made it clear that those responsible were perfectly capable of securing a ceasefire. Again, the 'newly agreed' but old calm that had been agreed upon for the start of school in September had worked, so it would be possible to keep a truce. Injuries fell from 22,000 in August to 8,500 in September. By November the number had increased again. During the year, the OSCE verified the deaths of 86 civilians in combat and 400 injuries.
As in the past, a ceasefire at Christmas 2017 fizzled out after a few days. In the second week of 2018, the OSCE recorded four-digit numbers of ceasefire violations on some days. Western politicians such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron called on Russia to return to the JCCC coordination center, under which up to 70 Russian representatives had also given security guarantees for the OSCE observers. Alexander Hug, head of the OSCE mission, hoped to increase the number of observers to 800.
Up to this point, the Ukrainian government had spoken of an "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO). In January 2018, the Ukrainian parliament had in a new law described the two secession areas as "Russian-occupied territory" and Russia as an "aggressor". . The word "war" was avoided. The law on the reintegration of Donbass was passed with 280 votes in the Rada. Despite long debates, the Rada could not agree on a date when the "armed aggression of the Russian Federation" began, which is why the decree does not mention such a date. This is an ambiguity in relation to the prosecution of those involved. As a humanitarian concession, birth and death certificates issued in the occupied territories will be recognized. After discussion, the treaty on friendship, cooperation and partnership with Russia was not cancelled. After the rejection of an application for rejection, only the signatures of the Speaker of Parliament and the President were missing for the entry into force. After the President signed the reintegration law “On the Peculiarities of the State Policy for Ensuring State Sovereignty of Ukraine on Temporarily Occupied Territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions”, the ATO became the “Operation of the United Armed Forces” (OOS) at the end of April.
According to the head of the OSCE mission, the parties to the conflict had already agreed on three ceasefires by March 30, 2018, for example at Easter. Still, the violence never came to an end. Another problem is the physical proximity of the parties to the conflict, who sometimes face each other at very short distances, which makes the situation unpredictable. A distance of two kilometers was technically agreed, but in fact it would go down to little more than a dozen meters. This also makes humanitarian aid and reconstruction very difficult. The contact line, which is 500 kilometers long, had only five crossings in the spring of 2018, with only one crossing in the Luhansk region, and this crossing continued to be passable only on foot. The people are still not giving up, said Alexander Hug from the OSCE, and crossed this unacceptable contact line up to 40,000 times a day.
The data collected by the OSCE on ceasefire violations had not been processed by April 2018; there was no process by which those responsible would be held accountable; According to the head of the mission, a breach of the ceasefire has hardly any disciplinary proceedings or other consequences, and there are hardly any political "expenses" for the political leaders, even in those cases in which those responsible are known beyond a doubt.
On May 16, surveillance cameras at the Swiss-backed Donetsk Grad water treatment plant captured rocket fire into government-held territory. The water supply was temporarily interrupted and only started up again on May 23rd. Three hundred thousand people depend on the drinking water supply there, but anti-government troops and the army were less than 300 meters apart there. The OSCE called for greater disengagement. Within a week at the time, 2 civilians had been killed again, including a 13-year-old boy. The head of the OSCE observer mission again lamented the senseless cycle of violence for which there was no logic; The only thing truly worth fighting for would be the goal of "zero civilian casualties."
At the beginning of July, at least the fourth ceasefire was agreed for the harvest season, for later another one for the start of school, which was also usual in previous years, at the beginning of September. On July 27, the NZZ reported that the OSCE had reported “fewer violations of the ceasefire.” The OSCE counted 15,000 in July. From the beginning of July to the 20th of August, twelve soldiers were killed and 70 were injured on the side of the Ukrainian army. On August 28, just before school started, only 70 ceasefire violations had been observed, and on the first day of the renewed ceasefire, the OSCE continued to detect the same number of ceasefire violations, albeit for once without heavy weapons.
On August 31, 2018, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko died in an explosion in Donetsk. The Russian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik called this a "reason for war".
On November 25, Russian security forces fired on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait , which in turn refrained from using weapons (see 2018 Crimea incident ). 23 Ukrainian naval personnel were detained by Russia as "criminals" and thus denied prisoner-of-war status. Ukraine imposed, in connection with the armed aggression in the Kerch Strait and other aggressive actions of the Russian Federation in the Azov and Black Seas, as well as the current threat of a large-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation against the background of the occupation of the territory Autonomous Republic of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts imposed by the Russian Federation on November 26 for 30 days in 10 regions of Ukraine. These were regions with a border with Russia or the anti-government areas in Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as with Transnistria . On November 27, Poroshenko accused Russia of a massive troop concentration and tripling of the number of tanks along the entire length of Ukraine's border, warning of an impending "all-out war." An extension of martial law was not planned in the absence of the same status in mid-December. The OSCE Secretary General called on Russia for a goodwill gesture and for the release and release of the confiscated ships and crews. However, he also noted that the political will for more peace was simply lacking.
At the turn of the year, another “indefinite” ceasefire was called, which was immediately broken. Two dozen such agreements had already failed.
Violations of ceasefire agreements continued throughout the first half of the year. A disengagement of the troops, which had already been agreed in 2016 for three positions, was achieved at the beginning of July 2019; the crossing at Stanyzja Luhanska was the only one in the Luhansk Oblast and had been crossed by around 200,000 people a month on a rickety wooden structure for years. Troops were withdrawn around the crossing and Ukrainian troops carried out demining work.
After the Ukrainian President Zelensky , who took office in May, made another attempt to solve the problem in a telephone call with Putin on July 11, the conflicting parties agreed on July 17 in Minsk on another comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire, which lasted overnight was to come into force on July 21, the day of the Ukrainian parliamentary elections . According to initial information, the armistice was observed by both sides for four hours on the first day, starting in the afternoon. However, according to Ukrainian information, 2 government soldiers were killed by a booby trap .
According to the OSCE, heavy weapons were used 1,700 times in ceasefire violations in the second quarter of 2019; the total including small arms was over 85,000. Most of the shooting took place at night, that is, before and after OSCE patrol times. By far the largest number of violations, both in the case of non-compliance with withdrawal lines from weapon systems and in the case of obstruction through access restrictions, concerned areas that were not under government control.
In September 2019, a prisoner exchange released 35 prisoners from each side, including Ukrainian marines captured in the Crimea incident in 2018 , those imprisoned in Russia such as Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov , and in turn Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky. The international investigators in the case of the downing of flight MH17 protested against the transfer of the possible witness Vladimir Tsemakh to Russia, which had been made conditional by Russia for an exchange. According to the assessment of Deutsche Welle 's editor- in-chief in Ukraine, Russia was able to get rid of a number of legal problems, as Russia had so far simply ignored the ruling by the International Tribunal for the Seafarers' Release in May 2019 political prisoner Oleh Sentsov who was sentenced in Russia without any evidence. For the time being, Russia has not disclosed the identities of the mostly Ukrainian citizens who had been transferred to Russia. Comparing the releases in the two countries, Novaya Gazeta spoke of hybrid human rights in a hybrid war.
At a first meeting of the new Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and President Putin in the Normandy format in early December 2019, a ceasefire was agreed again after 20 broken agreements. Essentially, the Minsk agreement was recommitted, with Ukraine returning to the issue of border control by Ukraine, while Putin called discussion of it a waste of time. Zelenskyi had proposed real nationwide local elections for autumn 2020: the elections will start in Donbass as soon as there is security, the statement before the meeting said. At the meeting, an agreement was reached on another overdue exchange of prisoners, three more disengagement zones and, as an innovation, observation of the conflict zone not only during the day but also during the night. The demining should be planned and the transition options for the civilian population should be expanded. During the exchange of prisoners at the end of December 2019, civilians were also released, some of whom had been in the custody of anti-government forces for years.
In the first few weeks after the 21st ceasefire, which is now in force, the daily changing ceasefire violations were in the range of a quarter to a third of the annual average for 2019, but in some cases the numbers were also above the average of the daily counted ceasefire violations of the previous year. Although demining had been agreed, the OSCE discovered new mines that were assigned to the so-called armed formations, and obstacles to observers in their areas were also mentioned. The observations at the only two border crossings to Russia observed were still limited; Although they were observed around the clock, it was not possible for the observers to make unhindered statements, since they could not make statements when the curtains were drawn on buses or when the windows were darkened, and they were also unable to observe the area of the X-ray systems. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, there were an average of over 700 ceasefire violations per day for March 2020, compared to an average of over 800 for the whole of the previous year.
In June 2020, the US sold military equipment, including ammunition, radios, but most importantly anti-tank missiles , to Ukraine worth US$60 million (about €53 million).
With a ceasefire agreed in Minsk that began on July 27, ceasefire violations in August, September and October 2020 were consistently reduced by 95 percent year-on-year.
From mid-February 2021, the ceasefire violations increased: According to Ukrainian information, 20 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 57 others injured in attacks by pro-Russian rebels by the beginning of April. According to the Ukrainian president, Russia increased troop levels on the border with Ukraine in late March/early April, including heavy weapons and wartime logistics. Numerous internet videos support the claim. Russia then refers to an aggravated situation on the part of NATO and announced that appropriate measures are being taken. At the same time, a ceasefire negotiated and regularly extended by the OSCE (Trilateral Group) expired on March 31 without being extended.
In March 2021, Russia held military maneuvers in Crimea .
The "Strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol" of March 11, 2021 of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine was confirmed by President Zelenskyy on March 24, 2021 and the implementation arranged.
On April 3, the OSCE documented an above-average number of ceasefire violations in the Donbass.
On April 8, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy spoke with US President Joe Biden and called on NATO to speed up the accession process requested by Ukraine. On April 9, the head of Ukraine's border guards estimated that 85,000 Russian soldiers were already in Crimea or within 40 kilometers of the Ukrainian border. In April, the Russian military set up provisional bases near Voronezh (250 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, in the Russian interior) and about 30 kilometers from the town of Markivka / Marjiwka near the coast. According to Der Spiegel , the deployed Russian military vehicles came from the central military district . Ukraine and other western governments (as well as locals in the areas affected by the deployment) said the deployment of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border was the largest since 2014.
On April 12, the foreign ministers of the G7 countries reaffirmed their "unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders".
In mid-April, Russia announced that it would restrict foreign military ships from crossing three waterways to the Sea of Azov from April 24 until the end of October 2021. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on April 20 that the number of Russian soldiers stationed on the border with Ukraine and on the Crimea peninsula had risen to more than 100,000. On April 22, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the withdrawal of troops.
According to Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Olena Kondratiuk , more than 13,500 women soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since the start of the war in Ukraine .
In July 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Ukraine to be “an anti-Russia directly ruled by the West ”.
Despite an agreed ceasefire, the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine continued in autumn 2021. Near Hranitne , pro-Russian separatists shelled positions of the Ukrainian army with artillery , killing one soldier. The Ukrainian army then used a Bayraktar TB2 drone to destroy an artillery piece - thereby breaking the agreement between the conflicting parties not to use drones. Also in the autumn, pro-Russian separatists repeatedly prevented OSCE staff from carrying out their observation mission, which is intended to document violations of the ceasefire.
The redeployment of Russian troops announced in April 2021 did not come true in some cases. In November 2021, parts of the 41st Army based in Siberia , which had been relocated to Voronezh because of the Russian maneuver Sapad in spring 2021, were located in Elnya . According to US intelligence information leaked to the Washington Post , a total of 75,000 troops had gathered in the Yelna region by the end of November 2021. A month earlier, from the end of October 2021, contrary to the announcement made in April 2021, Russian armed forces relocated military equipment from the 1st Guards Tank Army based in the Moscow area to Voronezh. Putin's deputy in the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev , had previously declared that a dialogue with Ukraine was "superfluous".
By November 2021, the Russian administration had issued 600,000 citizenships or passports in the separatist areas. In November 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the "tension" in the West as a sign that Russia's objections to NATO's eastward expansion "would be taken seriously," noting to his officials that the tension needed to be maintained to "resolve long-term legal... security guarantees” from the West.
According to the Washington Post, which quotes an intelligence document, as of December 2021, a total of 50 battalions, each with 1,000 soldiers, are stationed below Yelna (where 75,000 soldiers are already assembled) not far from the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Crimea. In addition, there would be 50,000 other soldiers who would be transferred there. In total, the US paper names 175,000 Russian soldiers near Ukraine. According to Der Spiegel , parts of the 49th and 58th Army stationed in the Caucasus region have been transferred to Crimea.
In December 2021, US President Joe Biden stated that US intelligence agencies had knowledge that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine. In an interview he told Putin that in that case the USA would increase its NATO capacities in Eastern Europe and impose sanctions, but would not intervene militarily itself. At the same time, the European Commission warned Russia that the EU would also impose punitive measures if Russia invaded Ukraine. A few days later, Russia called on NATO to revoke the possibility of Ukraine and Georgia joining, which had been announced in 2008, and to rule out NATO military exercises near the Russian border in the future. At the same time, Russia began a military exercise in the Sea of Azov , according to Ukraine , during which the Russian Navy would have closed off parts of the sea.
At a G7 meeting , Japan backed threats of sanctions. Russian media reported on the same day that a US reconnaissance aircraft had been deployed in Ukraine for the first time. The Ukrainian president complained in the same month that Germany was blocking US arms sales to Ukraine. The heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries also warned Russia in December 2021 against a military offensive in Ukraine, without mentioning specific sanctions that would follow in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. A few days before Christmas, the Russian ambassador to the EU declared that Russia was not planning an invasion.
Under the impression of the massive military deployment of Russian forces on the border between Russia and Ukraine , NATO fears that Russia is planning an attack on the neighboring country. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied this and demanded security guarantees from NATO, such as the refusal to expand NATO eastward and the withdrawal of all troops and heavy weapons from the former Warsaw treaty states . NATO considers these demands of Russia to be unacceptable and non-negotiable, also with reference to the right of self-determination of the states concerned.
In preparation for the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on January 7, the NATO foreign ministers agreed on the position to be represented there by the member countries of the alliance in the NATO-Ukraine crisis . After the meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assessed the situation of the Russian deployment on the border between Russia and Ukraine as follows: Russia is gradually concentrating more forces on the Russian-Ukrainian border with many different military capabilities. Armored units, artillery and electronic warfare equipment can be seen there. In NATO, the number of tactical battalions currently operating near the border is reported to be around sixty. These are key elements of the Russian armed forces involved in the ongoing maneuvers near the border, specifically reinforced tank and infantry battalions of 800 to 1,000 soldiers each, capable of limited autonomous operations. According to the New York Times (NYT) , when US-Russian negotiators were negotiating in mid-January 2022 , just over 100,000 Russian soldiers were still stationed near the Ukrainian-Russian border; in addition, fighter jets, transport helicopters and other helicopters belonging to the Russian armed forces have been relocated to military bases in south-west Russia. At the same time, according to the NYT, the United States Air Force has been carrying out regular reconnaissance flights with Boeing RC-135 aircraft over Ukrainian territory near the border with Russia since the end of 2021. In addition to visual reconnaissance, the flights also make it possible to intercept the communications of commanders of Russian units operating on the ground.
Even before the NATO-Russia Council meeting on January 12, 2022, Russia demanded security guarantees from NATO; the military alliance should not accept any further members and should withdraw its troops from Eastern Europe. At the meeting itself, no substantive agreements were reached between the conflicting parties. According to NATO findings, Russia continued its troop movements on the border with Ukraine unchanged. With the deployment of Russian soldiers, tanks, artillery pieces and military vehicles to Belarus – joint maneuvers are officially scheduled to take place in February – the situation in Eastern Europe worsened further. On January 18, 2022, the first Russian military units arrived there. Both countries justify the military activities with the tense situation in Ukraine. In addition, on January 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced several naval maneuvers involving more than 10,000 soldiers with more than 140 combat and supply ships and more than 60 aircraft in the Mediterranean , North Sea and Atlantic in January and February . Even before these Russian Navy maneuvers began, NATO itself launched what it says has been a long-planned exercise called Neptune Strike 22 in the Mediterranean. According to NATO, this should be completed in the first week of February.
As early as April 15, 2014, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) published a first report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. The UN agency stated that there were no systematic repressions and attacks against the ethnic Russian population in eastern Ukraine, but individual attacks. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the Kyiv government to respect minorities and "advocate for their equal participation in political life" and not to tolerate inciting hatred between communities. However, Russia has exaggerated the reports about it "to create a climate of fear and insecurity".
On May 15, UNHCHR published a second comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. After that, the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea deteriorated significantly. A "climate of lawlessness" prevails in parts of eastern Ukraine, with killings, torture, kidnappings and intimidation by armed groups. In Crimea, too, the human rights situation had deteriorated in general, and the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority was being discriminated against. According to the report, the Ukrainian government has so far cooperated well with the UN mission and has been willing to provide information. The report noted that the actions of the Ukrainian security forces as part of the "anti-terrorist measures" were "partially questionable" in terms of proportionality. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry welcomed the report as objective.
The Russian government was outraged by the document, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said: "The complete lack of objectivity, blatant contradictions and double standards leave no doubt that the authors have undertaken a politically framed assignment to name the self-proclaimed government in Kiev to cleanse.”
The third report on the human rights situation in Ukraine was published on June 15. This report also states that armed groups have created an atmosphere of constant fear in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. He also recalled the ban on hate and war propaganda under international law, which Russia had also signed , after mentioning examples of Russian propaganda.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Health reported in early July 2014 that by then 478 civilians had died in the combat zone, including 30 women and 7 children. 1392 people were injured, including 104 women and 14 children. Separatist commander Berezin confirms that the pro-Russian militias operate out of neighborhoods, effectively using the population as human shields .
On July 28, UNHCHR reported a total breakdown in law and order for the affected population of eastern Ukraine and reported a reign of terror by armed groups involving deprivations of liberty, kidnappings, torture and executions. On July 11, Amnesty International documented 100 kidnappings with details. "Most kidnappings are at the hands of armed separatists." One goal is to “terrify and control the civilian population”, then the payment of ransom and the exchange of prisoners. Home Office figures put 500 cases between April and June, while UNHCHR registered 222 cases in the June 15 report. Heavy fighting located in and around population centres, resulting in loss of life, property and infrastructure and causing thousands to flee. There are also judicial authorities in the People's Republic, says a gunman, "but there isn't enough time for all traitors, so we shoot them." The November report included further mass executions, forced labour, sexual violence and a ban on the Ukrainian language in the schools mentioned.
In the so-called Lugansk People's Republic, humanitarian aid did not reach everyone. According to Catholic Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradjuk , an unknown number of starvation deaths occurred in his diocese during the winter of 2014/15, particularly among elderly people who were afraid to leave their homes because of the fighting. At the same time, he called on the European community of states to jointly oppose Russian aggression.
In autumn 2014, Amnesty International reported war crimes on both sides of the conflict. There have been isolated executions. There is also evidence of indiscriminate shelling, kidnappings and torture. Civilians are also affected. Both parties to the conflict used cluster bombs .
According to UN Humanitarian Aid chief Stephen O'Brien, on September 24, 2015, those in power in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions called on UN agencies, including the World Health Organization , UNHCR and UNICEF , to leave the area controlled by anti-government forces . Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was also accused of stockpiling psychotropic substances . The UN ceased its work and called on those in power to ensure the immediate resumption of aid, calling the action a blatant breach of international humanitarian law.
Apart from the ICRC , only one agency remained in the area, where hundreds of thousands of people are dependent on humanitarian aid. From April 2015 to October 2016, Switzerland delivered 2,000 tonnes of chemicals for water treatment and medical goods as part of the SDC cooperation. 3500 tons of quartz sand for water treatment in Donetsk were also delivered. All of this without responding to the demands of those in power to register the aid: Switzerland reached agreements directly with those affected by a handshake . "We don't have any papers because we're not allowed to have any."
On May 18, 2016, it became known that human rights organizations had documented 4,000 cases of abductions and torture in eastern Ukraine. Evidence of 79 torture prisons was found in the separatist strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. The mistreatment is said to have been carried out mainly by pro-Russian rebels, but also by Russian nationals, 58 of whom are known by name.
On June 2, 2017, independent journalist Stanislav Assyev was kidnapped in Donetsk. Only on July 16 did the self-proclaimed "Ministry for State Security of the People's Republic of Donetsk" confirm that he was in their captivity and that he was being accused of espionage. Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists , Human Rights Watch , the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Reporters Without Borders called for the journalist's release. On December 29, 2019, Asseyev was released in connection with a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and the pro-Russian People's Republics.
People fled the collapse of law and order in the eastern regions of Ukraine. By mid-June 2014, at least 12,700 displaced persons had been registered in eastern Ukraine alone.
On September 2, 2014, UNHCR announced that more than a million people had fled their homes because of the fighting, according to UN estimates. 814,000 people fled to Russian territory, around 260,000 people stayed in Ukraine. For June 2015, the UNHCR gave a number of 2.2 million refugees, 746,000 of them in Russia. In January 2015, the European Commission reported around 600,000 refugees abroad (500,000 of them to Russia) and 633,000 refugees within Ukraine. The situation for the population in the zones not controlled by the Ukrainian government has deteriorated in terms of access to public services, supply and mobility are restricted.
According to reports, young and well-educated people from the middle class in particular have left the region, which, according to Andrei Kurkov , was in the midst of a hopeless catastrophe.
Anti-government forces carry out attacks and acts of sabotage on railway lines, pipelines or recruitment offices. Private individuals who are involved in citizens' initiatives are also affected. In December 2014 there were 6 bombings in Odessa alone. In January 2015, Mayor Klitschko in the capital Kiev spoke of "ten calls a day" to authorities reporting bomb attacks on government buildings, subway stations, department stores or train stations: "Almost all false reports, but there is an interest in us destabilize, spread unrest and fear among the people.”
In October 2018, 30 Russians were being held in Ukraine, some for terrorist attacks they carried out in Kharkiv and Odessa in 2015.
From the Minsk Agreement in September 2014, a joint Ukrainian-Russian military contact point Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) had made local ceasefires, prisoner exchanges and relief for the civilian population possible with agreements. In December 2017, Russia announced the withdrawal of its mediators.
Controlled transitions at the contact line
According to the head of the mission, at the beginning of November 2017 the OSCE fully understands the government's securing of the crossings to prevent weapons and persons who should not be using the crossings from crossing them. However, the Ukrainians have the right to use these crossings and are often dependent on them. In Stanytsia Luhanska , on peak days, up to 8,000 Ukrainians still crossed the contact line on foot because the bridge could not be repaired. The population does not want or need this dangerous border, which is a tragic reality. Neal Walker, UN representative in Ukraine, noted that in 2017 Ukraine was the country with the highest number of mine fatalities in the world.
An average of a million people crossed the line of contact every month, according to a UN agency in January 2019.
The Donbass is a highly industrialized area. It is traversed by around 1000 coal shafts, and mercury was also mined in a mine. Chemical and other potentially hazardous plants, some 4,500 in the region, dumped their waste underground or in above-ground storage facilities. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology, 550 emergency situations in 180 industrial plants were reported during the hostilities. The management of mine water , which was necessary in abandoned mines , was no longer guaranteed everywhere, which means that not only groundwater is endangered in the war situation, but also the rivers that run in the direction of the Don .
role of Russia
From the start of the conflict, Russia was accused of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine; Ukrainian President Poroshenko called the conflict “provoked from outside” and had already given priority to avoiding an imminent Russian invasion over all other political goals in April 2014.
On June 22, 2014, the three former Presidents of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko and Leonid Kravchuk called on Putin to stop his aggression against Ukraine and spoke of the expected “concrete steps” for de-escalation. They also called on "the mercenaries from Russia" to return to their homeland. On this occasion, Yushchenko declared that the war was undeclared ("Undeclared war against Ukraine" is currently under way).
It was Russia's strategy – as also explained by the Russian Chief of General Staff in an article – to exploit a population's potential to protest through a broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian and other non-military means, supplemented by " covert military measures ", including informational actions and operations of special forces. Accordingly, the perceptible actions of Russia and the "Russian propaganda causing the conflict" differed significantly from the official statements of the Kremlin.
From conversations intercepted in July 2014, which the criminal investigators of the downing of flight MH17 evaluated and published in November 2019, it emerged that the chain of command of the anti-government forces also extended to Russia and to Defense Minister Shoigu. Testimonies said key figures received instructions from Russia. In a July 3, 2014 recording, Borodai said: "Well, you have big plans, but not mine. I follow orders and protect the interests of only one state, the Russian Federation. In the end, that's all." The NZZ wrote:
“The myth of the uprising of the volunteers in eastern Ukraine and Moscow's lack of influence has long been debunked. It's no secret that the top officials of the self-proclaimed "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk regularly collect their directives from Moscow. (...) No less important is the evidence that high-ranking Moscow officials, including Shoigu and FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, ensured the supply of military resources and personnel.”
On March 21, 2014, the British government responded to Putin's accusation that alleged violent attacks were taking place in the country: The single greatest destabilizing force in Ukraine right now is Russia . (Translation: The only significant destabilizing force in Ukraine at this moment is Russia.) Responding to US President Obama's “diplomatically cautious” expression of “concern” about “alleged” Russian interference in southeastern Ukraine on various occasions, President Obama had Putin regularly only replied that the assumption made was based on "unbelievable" information.
As more and more irregulars entered Ukraine from Russia, the biggest Ukrainian and German request to Russia was better surveillance of its border. Russia merely announced that it would discuss this, including during the June 20-30 ceasefire, but either did nothing or took ineffective measures. Statements from Moscow avoided this point again and again. A month later, on July 24, Russia still refused to allow the planned observer mission to be extended to the entire border, as several OSCE members had tried to do. Until 2019, Russia will only just accept the observation of 2 zones, each a few hundred meters wide, on a border of hundreds of kilometers. In addition to the flow of war material and volunteers across the border, which Russia did not prevent, after Ukraine, the USA also accused Russia of direct shelling of Ukraine from Russia at the end of July.
In August 2014, the Swedish historian and Russia expert Stefan Hedlund explained the Kremlin's continued tactics of making the observers "familiar" with the border crossings of war material in small escalations and continuing to do so: Small steps of escalation served as the basis, "on which with increasingly tiring Routine convictions follow. The Kremlin has prepared the ground for a higher stake – for a more open daylight operation without provoking tougher sanctions.” An increase in Russian intervention came notably in late August 2014, allowing the rebel militias to use Russian aid to offset losses of territory to stop.
In December 2014, after reasons never given as to why the border could not be controlled, Russia made unspecified "commitments in connection with the (unrecognized) elections in eastern Ukraine" a prerequisite for international control of the border. In addition, Lavrov protested against criticism of Russia, invoking the principle of non-interference in "internal affairs".
In the fall of 2014, the UNHCHR recorded significant movements of people dressed in military clothing across the Russian-Ukrainian border and, without establishing that they were Russian troops, formulated: “The continuing presence of a large amount of sophisticated weaponry, as well as foreign fighters that include servicemen from the Russian Federation, directly affects the human rights situation”. (The human rights situation is directly affected by the presence of sophisticated weapons and foreign fighters, including Russian Federation soldiers.) In January 2015, President Poroshenko declared that there were 9,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Chkalova , northeast of Taganrog in Rostov Oblast , is known as the "hub of the invasion" . Journalists later examined the traces of artillery shelling and came to the conclusion that it was actually Russian troops who fired artillery at targets in Ukraine from Russian territory in July 2014 in order to prevent the defeat of the guerrilla units. A report by Britain's Royal United Services Institute cited a participation of 117 military units of the Russian Armed Forces by February 2015 to keep a total of 42,000 troops present in Ukraine in rotations since August 2014. T-72 main battle tanks from the Russian armed forces were also used in the fighting. The crews knew there was fighting in Ukraine when their squads were formed. In May 2015, the OSCE also confirmed that regular Russian soldiers are involved in the conflict as combat troops. In August 2018, as part of the OSCE’s observations, a night-time border crossing by heavy trucks from Russia to Ukraine and back was clearly and evaluably documented by a drone for the first time, on one of the countless dirt roads along the 400-kilometer border. OSCE drones flew only sporadically in this huge area, did not always deliver perfect pictures and were also fired upon.
In April 2019, President Putin issued a decree facilitating the issuance of Russian passports to residents of the anti-government areas; the procedure was known from South Ossetia , which was later occupied by the Russians, or warned of the illegal distribution of Russian passports in Crimea. The process is known in the literature as passportization (“pasportizatsiya”, паспортизация) and could be extended to all of Ukraine.
According to Gwendolyn Sasse , the war has "achieved the opposite of what Russia hoped to achieve through its support for the 'people's republics': the idea of the Ukrainian state has been strengthened and is uniting large parts of the country more than ever before". According to Ulrich Schmid , the Russian goal for the Ukraine was not the current Ukrainian scenario, but rather the “Armenian scenario” of limited sovereignty.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote in mid-April 2014 that propaganda on Russian television had increased significantly in parallel with the developments in Crimea, including hate propaganda prohibited under international law : Media monitors indicated a significant raise of propaganda on the television of the Russian Federation, which was building up in parallel to developments in and around Crimea. Cases of hate propaganda were also reported. Russian propaganda began months earlier, when Ukraine 's association agreement with the EU was about to be signed.
"The first 20 minutes of the news is partly pure hate propaganda", assessed the historian Andreas Umland at the beginning of March 2014, while the Süddeutsche Zeitung speaks of "staged" and even fictitious reports. The Ukraine historian Andreas Kappeler stated: "An uncanny propaganda machine... it's just hard to imagine the lies that are being told." and Ukrainians gave. Today, however, the conflict exists, and it is generated by propaganda.” Fascist rhetoric, common in Russia, was used; the term "punitive action" , deliberately reminiscent of German actions in the Second World War , was used by Rossiya 1 up to 500 times in August. The historian Timothy Snyder speaks of non-stop propaganda and phrase recycling. He accuses Putin of misleadingly referring to Ukrainians as "Russian compatriots" and postulating their need for protection from the "fascists" in Kiev. President Putin himself called the events in Ukraine "terror, murders and pogroms" and the people who ruled this country (meaning the interim government) "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites". Angry representatives of the Jewish communities themselves wrote an open letter to Putin, demanding that he stop the "arbitrarily chosen lies and insults." They wrote: "We live in a democratic country and can afford differences of opinion", even if they do not agree on everything and the stability of Ukraine is under attack; attacked "by the Russian government, namely by you personally".
The Russian newspaper Vedomosti reported in early May that President Putin had awarded three hundred journalists certain medals for their Crimea/Ukraine reporting.
On June 11 and June 12, Russian television channels claimed that Ukrainian units had carried out incendiary attacks with white phosphorus near Semenivka . Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an investigation. Human rights activists noted that part of the footage that Russian television broadcast of the story showed US attacks in Iraq in 2004. Also, according to the verdict of the human rights activists, the original recordings did not show an incendiary attack.
After the propaganda died down in early July, journalists soon noticed a clear increase in efforts. On July 11, for example, an alleged eyewitness appeared on Russian state television , reporting on the public crucifixion and subsequent murder of a three-year-old child by Ukrainian troops in Sloviansk. The incident could not be confirmed, nor did the locations described match those in Sloviansk. Journalists suspected a connection with a similar story that right-wing nationalist Alexander Dugin had spread on Facebook two days earlier. US officials on July 22 accused the Russian government of pressuring subordinates and pro-Russian elements to manipulate the media landscape to spread the Russian version of events.
Foreign politicians have also appeared in the Russian state media as supporters of Russia and as supposedly important experts who, however, are assigned to the political fringes in their home countries. These include Germany's Christoph Hörstel , Gunnar Lindemann and Andreas Maurer . The latter, for example, claimed that the army of Ukraine was at war with the population of occupied eastern Ukraine. According to Anton Shekhovtsov , such propaganda appearances serve to give the Russian population the impression that Russia is not isolated internationally and is also supported in the West.
As recently as February 2015, President Putin spoke of a "genocide" in relation to the gas supply in the Donbas. A demonstration on the anniversary of the Maidan deaths on February 22, 2015 in Moscow warned of a Maidan in Russia. Some media commented on the gathered demonstrators that they had no opinion of their own and were asked to take part or even paid to do so.
Before the May 25 election, Russia's President Putin consistently stated that “from a legal point of view” Viktor Yanukovych is the legitimate President of Ukraine. Leaving the country and Yanukovych's withdrawal was not a constitutional basis for his dismissal, since this case is not written into the constitution of Ukraine like e.g. B. Illness or death. At the same time, Putin declared that he no longer saw any political future for Yanukovych. Yanukovych later called the separation of Crimea a tragedy and demanded that Putin return it to Ukraine.
The representative of Russia at the February 21 agreement , Vladimir Lukin , did not testify to the agreement with his signature. Nevertheless, official Russia repeatedly referred to this failed agreement, including in September 2014.
In his speech on March 18, 2014, Putin himself described what was happening in Ukraine as “terror, murder and pogrom”, carried out by “nationalists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and Russophobes who determined life in Ukraine in the current government in Kiev “. Putin also mentioned in his March 18 speech that the people of Ukraine have suffered from corrupt governments and the struggle for honeypots. "You can understand why Ukrainians wanted change." He said: "I understand very well who came to the Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state administration and poverty and for the right to democratic procedures".
On March 29, Sergei Lavrov said Russia had “not the slightest intention” of crossing the border into Ukraine with its troops. In a telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin warned of "extremists" in Kiev and also expressed concern about an "external blockade" of Transnistria . Russia does not want to intervene militarily there either.
After meeting John Kerry in Paris on March 30, Sergei Lavrov spoke of transforming Ukraine into a federation as a "very important reform element" and called a Ukrainian federation in which the Russian-speaking population in the east and south is also adequately represented. a condition for talks with the Ukrainian interim government. Kiev must also commit itself not to join NATO. On April 8, Putin expressed the hope that "the interim government in Kiev will not do anything that cannot be corrected later." A few days earlier, Russia had announced that it would not renew the contract for the medium wave broadcast of the US government-funded radio station Voice of America .
On April 15, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the military action of the Ukrainian transitional government "against its own people" and in a telephone call with Ban Ki-moon demanded that the UN "condemn the unconstitutional actions of those in power in Kiev".
On April 23, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stressed that an attack on Russian citizens was an attack on the Russian Federation, citing South Ossetia , where Russia intervened in the 2008 Caucasus War . He remained convinced that the US was pulling the strings in Ukraine.
On May 12, Russia called for the “peaceful” implementation of the results of the questionable May 11 referendum , which Putin had only days earlier proposed to postpone.
Russian President Putin commented on July 16 that tightening sanctions would have a "boomerang effect," leading US-Russia relations to an impasse and damaging long-term interests of the US and its citizens.
Foreign Minister Lavrov said, according to the voice of Russia, that Russia cannot be expected to turn away from the separatists: "Russia cannot be expected to readily force the militias to accept either that they will be finally eradicated or that they will resort to mercy and mercy." disgrace."
On August 29, Putin said Russian forces and their nuclear weapons would oppose any aggression and that Russia was far from interfering in any major conflicts. On September 1, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia has no intention of militarily intervening in Ukraine. "There will be no military intervention," Lavrov said at a meeting with Russian students. The government in Moscow also denied the Ukrainian government's allegations that hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers had been transferred to Ukraine.
Russian President Putin on August 28 accused Ukrainian troops of atrocities, likening them to those committed by the Nazis during the Siege of Leningrad , and then congratulated the separatists on their successes. One does not want and will not be drawn into such a war.
Like other non-governmental organizations in Russia before them, the soldiers' mothers were branded "foreign agents" when they released figures suggesting that up to 15,000 Russian soldiers had already been fighting in Ukraine.
During the G20 summit in Australia in November, Putin also took the position that there were no Russians in Ukraine. However, the president did not deny it, he extemporaneously asked whether Russia supported the separatists with weapons and soldiers. He also expressed fears that Ukraine "could engage in ethnic cleansing" and "slip into neo-Nazism".
At the end of October, President Putin urged Ukraine that if it wanted the country to be united, it should not cling to individual townships - the most important thing was to end the war immediately.
On December 4, 2014, Putin delivered the (annual) "state of the nation" address to the Federal Assembly (the two chambers of the Russian parliament) in the presence of numerous dignitaries. A FAZ commentary characterized the speech as "a crude mixture of breakneck justification of his Ukraine policy, the stylization of Russia as a victim of Western cravings for world domination and threats against Europe and above all against the United States". Berthold Kohler , one of the four editors of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , summed up after the speech that Putin was “already waging a new Cold War against the West”; the West must ask itself what other "greats" Putin has in mind - possibly beyond areas such as eastern Ukraine, Moldova or the Baltic States.
On December 23, 2014, after a conference call by Petro Poroshenko , Vladimir Putin , François Hollande and Angela Merkel , the so-called " Normandy Group ", it was officially announced that the Minsk peace talks would be resumed within days. At the December 24 meeting, an exchange of prisoners was agreed (150 captured Ukrainian army soldiers for 225 "separatists"). However, the originally planned continuation of the negotiations on December 26 failed, as did a planned meeting of the “Normandy Group” in the Kazakh capital of Astana in January.
At the beginning of February 2015, the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov emphasized that the talks with Merkel and Hollande gave cause for a certain optimism. He presented Russia as a poor victim of Western machinations. His speech, peppered with wild claims, was seen by some as a prime example of hybrid warfare .
At the end of May 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that the number of dead in the ranks of the Russian army in peacetime must be considered an official state secret . This is apparently intended to prevent reports of deaths in eastern Ukraine. After a lawsuit by human rights activists, the Constitutional Court upheld the law. At the same time there were again reports of "heavy warfare" (meaning tanks and the like) stationed near the Ukrainian border. Identification signs such as number plates or insignia of soldiers have been removed.
Before the start of the 2018 World Cup , Russian President Putin warned Ukraine that acts of war during the games would have "very serious consequences for the entire Ukrainian statehood".
Weapons systems of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Buk system assigned to the Russian armed forces . As early as August 2014, T-72 tanks of a version used by the Russian armed forces had been deployed in Ukraine. Just as early on, there was talk of exclusively Russian “ Tornado ” rocket launcher systems; this system is even mentioned in the September 2014 memorandum on the heavy weapons to be withdrawn from combat zones in accordance with the Minsk Protocol. Two OSCE observation drones were brought down by (pro-)Russian troops using concentrated microwaves (i.e. the latest high-tech weapons of a modern army). In May 2015, a Russian IAI Searcher fire control drone was shot down over Ukraine, which had only been introduced to the Russian armed forces at the turn of the year 2013/14. Shortly thereafter, Bellingcat released a (further) localization of a modern Russian Pantsir-S1 system in Luhansk. The presence of 240 mm Russian 2S4 mortars, which has been known since September 2014 and was cautiously reported by the Ukrainian side in late autumn 2014 , was confirmed in July 2015 after an OSCE sighting. As early as August 2014, the Wintores sniper rifle was in use during the Russian troops' advance near Ilovaisk, and in spring 2015 a Russian soldier captured in Ukraine carried such a rifle. According to earlier observations by the Ukrainian side, in August 2015 and August 2016 the OSCE itself documented Russian jamming stations R-330ZH “Schitel”, which can be used to suppress mobile communications networks. At the end of September 2015, OSCE observers reported a TOS-1 “Buratino” weapon system in eastern Ukraine. They discovered the multiple rocket launcher on September 26 at a separatist training ground 31 km southwest of Luhansk.
According to consistent reports, Russian soldiers officially retired from military service and then went to Ukraine on an unofficial contract. Nevertheless, there was often talk of “business trips”. According to information from experts from circles of the Russian opposition around Boris Nemtsov , 80,000 monthly wages of one thousand euros were used for the alleged volunteers. Such a wage is almost twice the average Russian wage, but at the same time this number meant that 8000 people had been paid for ten months. A report by Gazeta.ru in the summer of 2015 spoke of a salary of 140 euros per day and veteran status with numerous benefits in Russia. The disadvantage of the unofficial status opened up to the soldiers and relatives, especially in the event of arrest, injury or death, since, unlike a contract soldier, no official examinations, no pensions and no other state benefits could be expected. The two Russian soldiers captured in May 2015, who wanted the Russian ambassador to visit Kiev, were also ignored. The Russian media said that it "makes more sense" to volunteer in Ukraine than to sit in the barracks. However, the number of deserters increased for fear of being deployed to Ukraine: In the first half of 2015, 62 cases of unauthorized removal (or unauthorized absence) from the troops and desertion were initiated in the Republic of Adygea , compared with 35 such cases in the Republic of Adygea years 2010-2014.
At the end of May 2015, the OSCE announced that two men captured near Luhansk had claimed to be "members of a unit of the Russian Armed Forces".
In August 2015, a Russian internet source inadvertently reported 2,000 dead and 3,200 seriously wounded Russian military personnel; this source was deleted after a short time.
A report in 2017 by Vedomosti was not officially denied : Based on cases reported to the insurer by members of the Russian armed forces , the losses among the Russian troops for the battles in Ilovaisk in August 2014 could be estimated at no more than 170 people.
In August 2014, fresh, initially nameless graves in a cemetery in Pskov in northwestern Russia caused a media sensation. Local media reported that Russian soldiers from the elite unit of the 76th Guards Division of the Russian Airborne Troops who died in eastern Ukraine were buried there. Some relatives of those killed initially confirmed that the soldiers died in the Battle of Luhansk, but retracted their testimony after being intimidated. Russia also said officially that no Russian soldiers were fighting in Ukraine and that there were no new deaths in the paratrooper brigade. In 2018, the sand mounds and nameless crosses in the cemetery were replaced with granite tombstones bearing military names, service insignia, life-size portraits and wreaths. The tombstones were funded by the Russian Defense Ministry. Such pension funds are only available to veterans with 20 years of service and participants in combat operations.
An officer in the Russian Armed Forces, Oleg Leontiev, asked a Russian military court in 2018 for a reduced sentence in light of his combat operations and services in Ukraine. This was considered to be the first admission recorded in court by a Russian soldier about the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. Leontyev, accused of killing a soldier in strange circumstances, said that he took part in military operations on the territory of the neighboring country, where Russian troops were not officially active.
support in the population
According to a survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in April 2014, popular support for the gunmen (“more or less strong sympathy for the armed occupiers”) was around 11 percent. According to another survey by the Domestic Initiatives Foundation on March 3, 2014, in Donetsk, for example, only around a third of the population supported possible annexation with Russia. In Luhansk and Odessa it was 24 percent. As the argument continued, the media spoke of steadily dwindling support until mid-August 2014. Irregulars returning to Russia in April 2015 also stated that the population had described them as occupiers. In mid-June 2015, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic found himself in a spontaneous anti-war demonstration. Russian journalist Pavel Kanygin from Novaya Gazeta reported on it and was detained, beaten and deported to a field on the Russian border. Other journalists who had reported “unfavorably” were also denied the necessary accreditation. "We make the rules here for our guests, if you don't like it, just don't come here," a Dutch journalist was told. The situation for journalists was similar to that in Russia, where VICE News ' Simon Ostrovsky had been declared undesirable for his research.
In 2017-2018, the Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission repeatedly emphasized that not only do the population not know why this conflict started, but they also do not understand why it is not stopping.
Influence of foreign volunteers on the fighting
Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, foreign volunteers have taken part in the fighting. People from several countries (Russia, Chechnya, Bosnia) are fighting on both sides. Compared to the number of dead alone - more than 6,000 since the beginning of the clashes until spring 2015 - the number of these volunteers is small. However, only the supposed volunteers from Russia had a real influence on the course.
On the part of Ukraine
According to media reports, up to 300 foreigners from 18 countries are fighting on the side of the Ukrainian troops. They come from Sweden, France, Croatia, Belarus and also from Russia. Belarusian volunteers set up their own combat battalion called "Atrjad Pahonya" in July 2014 . Later, the “Belarus Tactical Group” was formed. Frenchman Gaston Besson, a well-known right- wing extremist and former war veteran of the Croatian War , recruited fighters for the Azov Regiment . Volunteers from Georgia also joined the Ukrainian troops.
On the side of the anti-government forces
Many Russian paramilitary organizations support the armed struggle, including far-right groups such as the Russian National Unity . Other foreign fighters come from Germany, Serbia, Spain or France. The Serbian fighters say they want to thank Russia for their support in the Bosnian war . Frenchman Victor Alfonso Lenta, an ex-military, recruits fighters. Many of these fighters have anti-Western, radical left and nationalist views. This was also confirmed by an interview with a fighter from Brazil. Right-wing extremists are also being recruited in Italy to fight on the Russian side against Ukraine. In August 2018, Italian police arrested six far-right extremists and charged 15 others with recruiting militants and illegally possessing weapons on behalf of a foreign country. One of the arrested men is Gabriele Carugati, the son of Lega Nord politician Silvana Marin. Right-wing extremist Andrea Palmieri, who had already reported on Italian television about his combat operations in eastern Ukraine in March 2015, and former soldier Antonio Cataldo, who had trained in Russia, were also accused. According to investigators, the accused were paid to fight in eastern Ukraine. Briton Benjamin Stimson was sentenced to five years in prison in July 2017 after confessing to illegally entering Ukraine in 2015 to prepare and carry out terrorist acts with pro-Russian military.
Both the Ukrainian government and the separatists are supported by groups of Chechen fighters. In March 2014, the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion, led by Isa Munaev, was formed to defend itself and Ukraine, according to its own statements, against "Russian aggression". Munayev fell in battle for Debaltseve . In October 2014, a second Chechen pro-Ukrainian battalion was formed, named after late 18th-century resistance leader Sheikh Mansur.
At the same time, a strong group loyal to Chechnya's Kadyrov government is fighting for Donbas ' secession . Chechen leader Kadyrov had already received a medal from President Putin for his mission in Crimea for having “supported Crimea in its self-determination”, which speaks against the Chechen fighters being completely voluntary.
André Eichhofer compares Russian and Ukrainian propaganda and comes to the conclusion that, unlike Russian media, Ukrainian media spread a patriotic mood without denigrating Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Otherwise, Ukraine is also fighting for public opinion with all means, deliberately spreading disinformation and half-truths in particular by carelessly directly adopting statements from the army and the “Center for Counter-Information” (Center for Military and Political Research) headed by Dmitry Timchuk . The publisher of military scientific information Jane's stated that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense was reluctant to provide information and that the information was largely reliable.
In the Ukrainian media landscape, which is largely owned by some of the country's oligarchs , but also in the Russian newspaper Vesti , whose editorial office was searched by the police for alleged espionage, the gunmen were at least partially labeled "terrorists" from the start.
A key player in the public relations work of the Kiev government is the Ukraine Crisis Media Center , which is financed by various PR agencies, including the American investor George Soros . The network, which provides information to journalists, believes that "Ukraine [is] the victim of 'Russian aggression' and the new government's claims of a far-right threat are part of Russian propaganda".
Peace efforts and attempts at unification
The Geneva Declaration of April 2014
On April 17, 2014, at “Geneva Talks” between the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, the EU foreign envoys and the interim foreign minister of Ukraine, an agreement was reached that was intended to ease tensions and restore security for all citizens. All illegally armed groups in all regions of Ukraine should be disarmed and occupied buildings, streets and squares should be cleared. All sides were called to renounce violence and an amnesty was announced for all participants who had not committed capital crimes. OSCE observers are to play a leading role in supporting the Ukrainian authorities in implementing these de-escalation steps. "An immediate, broad national dialogue" was called for. The constitutional process that has already been announced will be transparent and will not exclude anyone. The participants underlined the importance of Ukraine's economic and financial stability.
A few days later, the separatists formulated the resignation of the government as a condition for laying down arms.
At the annual meeting of the Council of Europe on May 6, 2014, which was also attended by the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov and Andriy Deshchytsia , it was proposed to hold a second “Geneva Conference” to reconcile differences before the May 25 election date. Lavrov demanded that pro-Russian activists be invited as well, which the Foreign Minister of Ukraine rejected.
The "round table"
On May 13, 2014, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew to Kiev for mediation talks aimed at setting up a “round table”. The first of the planned talks took place there on May 14 under the auspices of the OSCE and moderated by the German ex-diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger . The government in Kiev has invited experts from all over Ukraine, but no representatives of the separatists, who, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, would not come even if invited. The participants in the first round table, which lasted two and a half hours, were: Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov , Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, OSCE moderator Wolfgang Ischinger, the former Presidents of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and Leonid Kravchuk, and the parliamentary group leader of the Party of Regions ” in the Ukrainian Parliament, Oleksandr Yefremov (ukr. Олександр Сергійович Єфремов ). The country's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov , was also invited. He did not attend the meeting, but called for unity in the country.
The second session of the round table took place in Kharkiv on May 17 at noon. Despite the significantly improved climate, it was also unsuccessful. The third session was held in Mykolayiv on May 21 . At this meeting, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ruled out bilateral talks with Russia and said that talks with the participation of the USA could at best take place, as was the case in Geneva.
The Letter of Intent dated June 30, 2014
On June 30, 2014, after a joint telephone call, the Presidents of France, Ukraine, Russia and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany semi-officially declared that the ceasefire, which was due to expire that evening, had to be extended in order to find a lasting solution together with all those involved and with the involvement of the OSCE to realize the conflict. In particular, Russia and Ukraine should jointly ensure border surveillance, and Ukraine should sit down with the insurgents.
For Ukraine, however, “the conditions were not met”; Poroshenko said in an official speech in Kiev: "Over the course of ten days we have shown Donbass, Ukraine and the whole world that we want to settle this conflict provoked from outside peacefully, but the insurgents with "criminal acts" have a unique opportunity chance wiped out. The peace plan remains in force: we are ready to cease fire at any moment as soon as we see that all sides are adhering to the fulfillment of the main points of the peace plan pro-Russian fighters; instead, the insurgents repeatedly set their own conditions. The OSCE will resume its work only after the disappearance of weapons and checkpoints . The ceasefire had been broken by the separatists a hundred times and 27 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives.
On July 2, at Steinmeier's invitation, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Pavel Klimkin, Russia, Sergei Lavrov, and France, Fabius, met directly in Berlin to deepen the above-mentioned conference call. On July 13, on the fringes of the World Cup final , Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Rio de Janeiro. The two politicians agreed that direct talks between the government in Kiev and the separatists in the form of a video conference should be started as soon as possible.
OSCE-mediated negotiations and Minsk Protocol (“Minsk I”)
On September 2, 2014, a trilateral OSCE contact group made up of representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE met for the first time in Minsk , Belarus. This meeting was also attended by representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. According to media reports, on September 3rd, a few days before the NATO summit and the new sanctions imposed by the West, Presidents Poroshenko and Putin agreed by telephone on a ceasefire. However, Putin's press chief Peskov immediately contradicted this. He said that Russia could not directly agree on a ceasefire because it is not involved in the conflict in Donbass. There was also an immediate objection from Ukraine: "This is a plan to destroy Ukraine and restore the Soviet Union," said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on September 3, 2014 in Kiev.
Nevertheless, on September 5, a twelve-point Minsk Protocol was signed between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists. The parties to the conflict agreed on a ceasefire to be monitored by the OSCE and an exchange of prisoners. In addition to the OSCE, Russia was also involved in the agreement. Leonid Kuchma signed the document for Ukraine ; Alexander V. Zakharchenko and Igor V. Plotnitsky signed as representatives of the Donbass . The Ukrainian side undertook to implement a law on a special regional status.
According to Boris Litvinov, a representative of the Donetsk People's Republic, Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky attended the meeting only as observers. Their signature only documents that they have taken note of the agreement.
On September 16, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law on a special status for the conflict region in eastern Ukraine and an extensive amnesty for the separatists. President Poroshenko only introduced the law to parliament in the morning. The law on the special status is valid for three years and enshrines the right to their own language for the Russian-speaking population in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In addition, the self-government of these regions is to be strengthened and close cooperation with neighboring Russian areas is planned. The law also allows regions to hold their own elections and set up their own people's militia in regions controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. In return, the insurgents in the unrecognized people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk should renounce their demand for independence. Violence erupted during the parliamentary session in Kiev, involving the Pravyj Sector organization, the Svoboda party and the AutoMaidan movement, among others. Deputy Vitaly Zhuravsky, a former member of the Party of Regions faction , was physically attacked by protesters, thrown into a dustbin and thrown with rubbish.
On September 19, the same groups held a multilateral meeting in Minsk, with all participating groups initially making known demands. On September 20, however, an agreement was announced on the establishment of a buffer zone around the contested areas in eastern Ukraine, compliance with which is to be monitored.
After the ceasefire agreed in Minsk was barely observed for three and a half months (see above), it was only officially announced shortly before Christmas on December 23, 2014 that the Minsk peace talks would be resumed that same week.
On January 15, 2015, after the alleged capture of Donetsk airport , the separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko openly admitted that he was not complying with the ceasefire and, on the contrary, was conducting an offensive with the aim of conquering further territory.
In early February 2015, Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande refused arms deliveries to Ukraine. Hollande reiterated that France is not in favor of Ukraine joining NATO. On February 5, Merkel and Hollande first traveled to Kiev to meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had held talks with Arseniy Yatsenyuk and US Secretary of State John Kerry a few hours earlier. Afterwards, Merkel and Hollande traveled to Moscow for a meeting with Putin. After a five-hour tripartite summit on February 6, 2015, the result was a commitment to revive the previously failed Minsk peace plan. After a seventeen-hour "marathon of negotiations" on the night of February 11-12, those involved (Poroshenko, Putin, Hollande, Merkel and the militia leaders) came to an agreement. The details were announced in the late morning of February 12: Accordingly, the outcome of the September 2014 negotiations (“ Minsk I ”) was to be implemented in full. According to " Minsk II ", the guns should be silent from Sunday, February 15, 2015, 0:00 a.m. local time.
The heavy weapons were then to be withdrawn within 14 days and the prisoners released within 19 days. The Ukrainian army should withdraw its heavy weapons from a border area corresponding to the current front line. The same applied to the border of the area occupied by the insurgents on September 19, 2014. The course of the front of this day is reproduced in a graphic by the mirror.
On August 24, 2015, Merkel, Poroshenko and Hollande held a conference in Berlin to mark the 24th anniversary of the independence of the Ukrainian state. This resulted in the unanimous demand to comply with the Minsk II treaty of February.
OSCE observer missions and mediation efforts
In a speech to the UN Security Council on February 24, 2014, the Swiss President and President of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Didier Burkhalter , called for the formation of an international contact group on Ukraine under the umbrella of the OSCE, which would include the most important actors should be included in order to ensure that the Russian and Ukrainian sides speak directly to each other. On March 3, 2014, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Burkhalter called for respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia generally rejected OSCE assistance to Ukraine and thus also an OSCE observer mission, arguing that the Ukrainian government was allegedly illegitimate according to Russia.
In early March 2014, at Ukraine's request, OSCE member states decided to send unarmed military observers to conduct OSCE inspections under the Vienna Document of 2011 on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures Negotiations (WD 11). Observers were denied access to Crimea.
OSCE locations in Ukraine
Following its annexation of Crimea, Russia allowed the OSCE Permanent Council on March 21, at the request of Ukraine and with the consent of all 57 member countries, to send an OSCE observer mission with extended powers to Ukraine – excluding Crimea – ( OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) ) decided. The aim of the SMM is to collect information, report on the security situation and report on specific incidents on the ground. Depending on the time, the SSM consisted of around 500 to 1,200 civilian, unarmed observers from more than 40 OSCE participating States and up to 400 local staff from Ukraine who work as translators, administrative assistants and consultants. The original six-month mandate has since been extended to March 2019. The Mission's seat is in Kiev, but the Mission's mandate covers the entire territory of Ukraine and observers work in the ten largest cities of Ukraine (Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson and Odessa, as well as Lviv, Ivano-Frankovsk, Chernivtsi and Kyiv) 350 observers worked in 2015 in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone.
Even after Russia's approval, Russian propaganda maintained "a lack of neutrality in the OSCE"; According to Russian state media, the OSCE has “a certain political directive […] to make Ukraine a territory where no legal norms apply.” Independent of the observation mission, a separate mission limited to three months (now until June) was launched in July 2014 2015 extended) [obsolete] mission to monitor two Russian border crossings in Gukovo and Donetsk, which was only part of a multi-step declaration – from a Russian perspective only “a gesture of goodwill”.
The scope of this mission was initially criticized by Western OSCE members as completely inadequate. OSCE President Didier Burkhalter on 29 August 2014 called for an investigation into the growing flow of military personnel and equipment from Russia into the conflict zone; he reiterated that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected at all times.
On September 2, 2014, the then OSCE Representative for Ukraine, the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini , chaired the talks of the OSCE Contact Group in Minsk, which prepared the ceasefire of September 5, 2014. At a meeting at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales on the same day, Burkhalter told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that the OSCE would do everything within its mandate to help Ukraine implement the Minsk Agreement. He warned against Russia being isolated and called for a dialogue between Putin and Poroshenko to be promoted and for the OSCE observer mission to be expanded in eastern Ukraine and expanded to monitor the border. In addition, the OSCE should contribute to "reconciliation, reconstruction and reforms" in Ukraine. On February 18, 2015, the Security Council of Ukraine decided to seek blue helmets in the form of an EU police mission. The US envoy to Ukraine also endorsed an armed UN force in 2017. Under the protection of a peacekeeping mission, democratic elections in the areas should also allow for legitimate local governments with which Kiev could negotiate. Russia does not want a mission that controls the border with Russia. In the very limited mission only along the armistice line according to Russia's idea, a UN mission, according to Konrad Schuller , would literally "protect" the territory occupied by anti-Ukrainian militias. Ukraine was expected to present a draft resolution on peacekeeping to the UN General Assembly at the end of September 2018.
The chief negotiator Heidi Tagliavini was replaced in June 2015 by the Austrian UN ambassador in New York, Martin Sajdik . Experts suspected that the reason was that Tagliavini wanted to implement the binding Minsk II agreement and therefore did not want to take part in any new negotiations on changes ("Minsk III"). In April 2017, an OSCE monitor died when a vehicle was believed to have hit a mine.
In 2017, the OSCE counted over a thousand ceasefire violations per day. According to the OSCE's knowledge, five hundred civilians lost their lives that year. On May 16, 2018, the ceasefire was broken 2,380 times in a single day.
The data collected on ceasefire violations was not processed until April 2018; there was no process by which those responsible would be held accountable; Unsatisfactorily, according to the head of the mission, a ceasefire violation would result in few disciplinary proceedings or other consequences, and there would hardly be any political "expenses" for the political leaders, even in those cases where those responsible are known beyond a doubt. Six months later the management of the observer mission changed; Alexander Hug handed over the management to the British Mark Etherington. Hug's conclusion was: "There is no will to end this conflict." At the same time, he contradicted Moscow's depiction of an intra-Ukrainian conflict; the war was “not a domestic conflict”.
Obstruction of OSCE monitoring missions
From April 25 to May 3, 2014, insurgents held members of a WD-11 inspection team composed of eight foreign military inspectors and five Ukrainian soldiers, led by a German Bundeswehr officer, near Sloviansk. On May 26, the OSCE lost contact with one of its SMM monitoring teams in the Donetsk region; A short time later, another OSCE team was abducted by pro-Russian separatists in the Luhansk area, so that a total of nine OSCE staff members were detained for a whole month. Both teams were only released on June 27 and 28, respectively, with the participation of Alexander Borodaj , who at the beginning of June had assessed the disappearance of the observers as scandalous because it might have been a (Ukrainian) provocation.
OSCE observers were repeatedly fired upon after the 5 September Minsk ceasefire. It was often not clear who was responsible for the attacks.
Two OSCE observation drones were brought down by pro-Russian troops using concentrated microwaves – ie with the latest high-tech weapons of a modern army. The OSCE was denied access to the suspected crash site of another drone.
The surveillance of the Russian border agreed in the first and second Minsk agreements never came about.
Organized hindrances to the OSCE increased in the summer of 2015: In July, 30 vehicles belonging to the OSCE and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Donetsk were disabled by the “population”, with the armed representatives of the People’s Republic making no attempt to close the vehicles protection. In August another four cars were completely destroyed. Ukrainian sources spoke of attempts to oust the OSCE from Donbass.
The deputy head of the OSCE mission, Alexander Hug, said in an interview in March 2016 that neither side really adheres to the “safety zone” on either side of the Minsk line of contact, in which troop movements are actually forbidden. The observers are being hindered in their inspections primarily by pro-Russian forces. Threats and intimidation against observers only come from pro-Russian separatists.
suspicion of espionage
According to research by the ARD magazine Fakt , members of the OSCE observer mission in Ukraine were spied on by the Russian domestic secret service FSB . The FSB had received staff lists and policy briefs containing private information about OSCE staff, such as marital status, health information, character traits and exact whereabouts in Ukraine. Assessments of personal habits and preferences were also recorded in the dossiers, such as details about preferred types of women, susceptibility to alcohol and the financial situation. The magazine has a copy of a data carrier that was previously in the possession of a Russian FSB official. In addition, the FSB received internal OSCE documents, detailed plans from OSCE entities, reports on specific events, and communications from the Deputy Head of the Mission, Alexander Hug. According to the magazine's research, the documents may have been forwarded to Russian agents by one of the OSCE Mission staff, based on the document's properties. The spokeswoman for the OSCE mission announced an investigation.
- 2014 presidential election
The OSCE was invited by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to monitor the presidential elections, which are scheduled for May 25, 2014.
- General election (October 2014)
On September 19, 2014, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) formally opened an election observation mission for the October 26, 2014 parliamentary elections at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The mission is led by Italian politician Tana de Zulueta and consists of 16 experts in Kiev and 80 long-term observers across the country.
On March 16, 2014, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Putin in favor of more OSCE observers in Ukraine, especially in troubled eastern Ukraine.
On March 22, 2014, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met the then Governor of the Donetsk Oblast, Serhiy Taruta , and the businessman Rinat Akhmetov in Donetsk . He called on the interim government in Kiev to secure the rights of all sections of the population, to disarm the militias and to distance itself from extremist forces.
On April 16, 2014, the German government praised the Ukrainian transitional government's reluctance to date in its current actions against the pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. As a result of the Ukraine crisis, the German federal government ordered an export ban for armaments to Russia.
On June 27, at the opening of an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Sarajevo assassination that triggered World War I , Federal President Joachim Gauck explicitly mentioned the crisis in Ukraine: “Russia’s resistance to Ukraine’s rapprochement with the European Union made us think - and patterns of behavior that we thought had long since been overcome on our continent. What we are experiencing today is old thinking in spheres of power and influence - to the point of destabilizing foreign states and annexing foreign territories".
On September 1, 2014, on the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, Gauck gave a speech in Gdansk. In it he criticized that Russia had de facto terminated its partnership with the West. Gauck also indirectly accused the government in Moscow of having annexed the Crimean Peninsula and providing military support to the separatists in eastern Ukraine. "History teaches us that territorial concessions often only increase the appetite of aggressors," warned the Federal President.
In September 2014 it was reported that the federal government was preparing to deliver medical equipment, field hospitals and protective vests to Ukraine. The delivery of military hospitals had also been approached to the federal government, and talks were being held with the Ukrainian side about implementation. The mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Vitaly Klitschko, had previously stated that the Ukrainian leadership had been asking the NATO countries for support for three months in vain.
Also in September 2014, treatment of injured Ukrainian soldiers in hospitals in Germany began.
On Sunday, November 16, 2014, ARD broadcast a full length live interview that Putin conducted with journalist Hubert Seipel in Vladivostok the previous Thursday . Günther Jauch then discussed this interview in a round table discussion with several celebrities, including Berlin Minister Ursula von der Leyen . It was noted that Putin was mistakenly comparing the Crimean crisis to the Kosovo conflict; that, on the one hand, the economic consequences of the sanctions would increasingly damage Russia in the long term due to the severe loss of confidence among potential investors; and that, on the other hand, whoever represents the Russian Federation as President, whether his name is Yeltsin or Putin or whatever, can claim, as Yeltsin said, to be addressed as “you”. This should mean - and this was the main result of the discussion - that psychological arguments - if only because of the strong sympathy of the Russian population - should be given much more consideration than before, and that this should also be the case in the deliberations of the G20, which was meeting in Brisbane at the time group could have played an important role: Putin, Merkel, Obama and many other heads of state, among others, had conferred at this conference, and Putin left early after a four-hour discussion with Angela Merkel.
In fact, on November 17 in Brussels, the EU foreign ministers decided not to tighten sanctions against Russia, but “only” against prominent members of the separatists in Ukraine. On the other hand, after the Brisban G20 conference in Sydney, Angela Merkel gave a speech in which she warned against a resurgence of the Cold War and a division of the world into spheres of influence: otherwise it would not be about Ukraine alone and its association with the EU, but also around Georgia , Moldova , Serbia and other states. She also recalled the situation in the GDR , where you always had to ask Moscow before doing anything.
On December 5, 2014, 60 personalities from politics, business, science and culture published an appeal entitled War in Europe again? Not in our name! which is aimed at the members of the German Bundestag and calls on them to focus on compromise and dialogue with Russia. He drew criticism for the handling of Russia's military operations and the annexation of Crimea, which he described as uncritical, and triggered a counter-appeal from 100 scientists.
On December 17, 2014, Chancellor Merkel and Presidents Hollande, Poroshenko and Putin welcomed the new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine that has been in effect for a week. Desired peace talks failed shortly afterwards, only an exchange of prisoners was agreed and carried out. The Chancellor called for further steps and called on Moscow to make peace efforts.
At the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 7, 2015, Merkel pointed out that the conflict could not be won militarily: "The problem is that I cannot imagine a situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army would lead to this that President Putin is so impressed that he thinks he is losing militarily.”
In early March 2015, Angela Merkel declared that the sanctions against Russia would remain in place until the second Minsk agreement had been fully implemented, i.e. until Ukraine took over control of the Russian-Ukrainian border. This was still the case a year and a half later: in October 2016, a meeting with Putin, Poroshenko, Hollande and Merkel in Berlin was to “evaluate the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. The only result a year earlier was that the anti-government areas waived their elections and nothing changed.
On March 29, following the violent siege of the Ukrainian Parliament by members of the Right Sector , EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton joined calls for the Ukrainian authorities to hand over all illegal weapons in the country.
On July 16, 2014, both the EU and the US tightened their sanctions against Russia. The EU passed further economic sanctions against Russia on September 6, 2014 , which came into force on September 12, 2014. In addition to access to the EU financial markets for Russian financial institutions and banks (applies to all banks with a state stake of at least 50 percent), the sanctions particularly affect Russian state-controlled oil companies such as Rosneft , Transneft and Gazprom Neft . The EU also banned the export of special technology for oil production and banned future arms deliveries.
On September 12, the EU again tightened its sanctions against Russia and the separatists of eastern Ukraine, again in line with the US.
On September 16, the EU Parliament ratified (simultaneously and in two-way live transmission from the Parliament in Kiev) the Association Agreement with Ukraine. However, the economic parts of the agreement (“Free Trade Agreement”) that directly or indirectly affect Russia have been postponed.
On March 17, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence in eastern Ukraine. He called on all parties involved to refrain from violence and to commit to non-violence and national dialogue to find a political and diplomatic solution.
On September 4, 2014, at the request of Russia, the UN Security Council met in New York (emergency session) on the situation of the people in the conflict region. The UN refugee agency UNHCR had previously announced, based on Russian information, that 730,000 people from eastern Ukraine had sought refuge in Russia since the beginning of the year. 168,000 Ukrainians had registered as refugees. But there is no way to check the Russian data. "We don't have any helpers there, we only provide technical support." The representative of Ukraine accused Russia of cynicism: "None of these problems would exist if you didn't get involved in the affairs of a sovereign country US Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo accused Russia of hypocrisy. “Russia can end all this. The violence will end the day Russia stops helping the insurgents.” Moscow must respect Ukraine, end the occupation of Crimea and stop destabilizing eastern Ukraine.
John Ging of the UN Emergency Relief Office in New York said 1,376 people had been killed and more than 4,000 injured from the beginning of the conflict until the beginning of September.
On March 28, 2014, US President Barack Obama asked Russia to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border. At the same time, the US supported Ukraine with the delivery of 300,000 one-man packs (MRE) for the Ukrainian armed forces, which were delivered from the European Distribution Center of the Defense Logistics Agency in Germersheim (Germany) via Poland to Yavoriv to the International Security and Peacekeeping Center .
The director of the US CIA , John Brennan , was in Kiev on April 12 and 13 and also met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his deputy Vitaly Yarema . The US sided with Ukraine's interim government when it began to use military force against separatists after they had systematically and armed occupied state facilities. US government spokesman Jay Carney described Kiev's military action on April 16 as "balanced."
On April 21, 2014, the US State Department released a series of photos purporting to show Russia's involvement in the uprisings in eastern Ukraine. The published images are intended to prove that some of the armed fighters in eastern Ukraine are Russian military or officers of the Russian secret service.
On April 24, 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of deliberately destabilizing Ukraine. Russia is trying to obstruct the democratic process in the neighboring country. Although the Russian government claims that it is interested in stabilizing the situation, this is a deception. In truth, Russia has increased instability in Ukraine with provocations and threats. Kerry warned that Russia would make a "grave and costly mistake" if it didn't change its course.
On June 5, 2014, a US Department of Defense spokeswoman announced the deployment of a small group of military advisers to Ukraine to monitor medium- and long-term reform needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
On July 16, 2014, the US announced tightening sanctions against Russia, arguing that Russia had failed to stop the flow of fighters and weapons to the separatists. The round of sanctions is aimed at the state-owned Vneshekonombank and Gazprombank , as well as at the energy companies Novatek and Rosneft and at eight armaments companies. The EU also tightened its sanctions on the same day.
On September 3, 2014, US President Obama paid a visit to the Estonian capital of Tallinn . There he portrayed Russia's behavior in Ukraine as a threat to peace across Europe. Referring to fears of NATO's Eastern European partners about Russian intervention, he said his country will protect all NATO allies from similar military actions. “You lost your independence once before. With NATO you will never lose it again.”
In his speech, the US President bluntly accused Russia of a military operation in the neighboring country. The troops that have come to Ukraine in the past few weeks are not part of a humanitarian mission or a peacekeeping mission. "They are Russian combat units with Russian weapons in Russian tanks," he said.
Obama also criticized the Russian reasoning that Moscow wants to protect Russian speakers outside its borders. "We reject this lie that people cannot live together and cannot prosper just because they have different backgrounds or speak different languages." . "We will never accept Russia's occupation and annexation of Crimea or any other part of Ukraine."
On September 12, 2014, the US government implemented further sanctions against Russia. Affected are Russian financial institutions and banks, in particular Sberbank , as well as Russian armaments and oil production companies.
On September 27, 2014, it was announced that more than a dozen military personnel had been dispatched to Kiev by the US Department of Defense to provide advice to the Ukrainian security forces on counterinsurgency and tactical military planning. US military objectives also include assessing security requirements and finding ways for US military equipment to be made available.
In early December 2014, the US Congress passed a resolution by just 10 votes against, according to which Russia had broken every single one of the 10 points of the Helsinki Final Act in Ukraine. A week later, he unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act. The law provides for arms exports to Ukraine for the first time. Congress authorizes US$100 million for the current fiscal year and US$125 million each for the next two years. With these funds, the US should equip the Ukrainian armed forces with "anti-tank weapons, ammunition, artillery reconnaissance radar, fire control systems and surveillance drones" in order to "restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine". The US government is also being asked to find “appropriate alternative markets” for Ukrainian arms producers who have so far mainly exported to Russia. On December 16, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his intention to sign the law into law. Although he has concerns because the USA had not coordinated with its allies on new sanctions in this case, the law gives him leeway for new sanctions.
US Senator John McCain condemned Merkel's MSC speech in which she advocated a negotiated settlement as "folly" and compared Merkel's refusal to sell arms to Ukraine to the British government 's policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s - years. US Vice President Joe Biden warned at the MSC "decisively against disagreement among Europeans in the Ukraine crisis". He also said the US government would continue to supply Ukraine with military equipment, but did not respond to US senators' calls for it to also supply lethal weapons.
On 23 March 2014, NATO Commander-in-Chief Philip Breedlove stated that Russian forces on the border with Ukraine were so strong that they could also pose a threat to the former Soviet Republic of Moldova in the conflict over the breakaway Transnistria region . The alliance must think about the stationing and operational readiness of its forces. This applies in particular to the Baltic States .
NATO led on 4./5. September 2014 in Newport , Wales , a summit meeting was attended by Ukrainian President Poroshenko as a guest. Russia was not invited. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the start: “We are dealing with a dramatically changed security environment. In the east, Russia is attacking Ukraine.” The conflict in eastern Ukraine – and the question of how NATO should react to it – was the focus of the meeting. The following goals were formulated at the meeting: demonstrate strength against Russia; signal support to the government in Kiev; Developed an action plan to increase NATO's presence in its Eastern European member states and establish a strike force, dubbed the "Spearhead," which should be combat-ready within two to three days. The NATO Secretary General also demanded from Russia: the country should withdraw its troops from the border with Ukraine, stop the infiltration of weapons and fighters into the country, stop supporting armed separatists and start constructive political efforts to find a solution. Russia has been accused of using soldiers and military equipment to intervene directly in the fighting between separatists and Ukrainian government troops. According to NATO, there is evidence of a massive Russian military presence in the neighboring country. For its part, Russia warned NATO against further rapprochement with Ukraine; The non-aligned status of the former Soviet republic should not be shaken, said Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on September 4, 2014 in Moscow on Russia's position.
From September 11 to 28, 2014, NATO, under the leadership of the US European Command , organized the maneuver "Rapid Trident 14" (rapid trident) on an almost 400 km² large area near Javoriv in the extreme west of Ukraine. Around 1,300 soldiers from 16 nations, including three soldiers from the Bundeswehr , took part in the combined land and air force exercise. Russia saw the maneuver as a provocation.
Due to the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the NATO-Russia Council was reactivated. The NATO-Ukraine Commission met on January 10, 2022 in preparation for the meeting planned for January 12, 2022 in Brussels . According to NATO, Russia is continuing to mass troops on the border with Ukraine . "Russia continues its military buildup, with tens of thousands of combat-ready troops armed for heavy capabilities," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting with Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna , who is attending the NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting in Brussels attended. Olga Stefanishyna's attendance is intended to engage Kyiv in talks to resolve the conflict ahead of the NATO-Russia Council meeting. The NATO Secretary General convened the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on January 12, 2022 in order to enter into a direct dialogue with Russia to discuss the conflict with Ukraine and Russia's draft agreements on NATO security guarantees rule out both a further eastward expansion of the alliance and the stationing of NATO weapons in the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders. Notwithstanding the increasing tensions with Russia , NATO continues to hold the prospect of accession for Ukraine. The NATO Secretary General made it clear in Brussels that the alliance would not infringe on the right to self-determination of the states of Europe. According to Jens Stoltenberg, joining NATO is solely the decision of Ukraine and the member states of the alliance. Moscow, on the other hand, is strictly against NATO's eastward expansion. The NATO Secretary General described NATO's position in the talks as follows: "We call on you to de-escalate, but we also say clearly that if you use force again against Ukraine, it will have serious economic and political consequences." In an interview with ZDFheute , Stoltenberg said that the talks weren't easy, "but they were open and conducted freely." He sees it as a good sign that the NATO allies and Russia can now sit at the same table again and substantive issues can be addressed.
Switzerland condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea .
The country decided to pause imports of war materials from Russia and Ukraine. In addition, as a result of the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Federal Council imposed an import and export ban on certain key goods for oil and gas production, as well as investment restrictions for Crimea.
The reason for the stance against sanctions is Switzerland's credibility as a provider of good offices and as the OSCE chairmanship, so as not to jeopardize its role as a mediator. Switzerland carried out the Courant normally (usual daily business), which means that the penalties of the EU should not be circumvented via Switzerland.
Court claims and assessments
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been dealing with the Russian-Ukrainian war since April 25, 2014. On November 14, 2016, the ICC published its assessment of the conflict. The court classifies the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol as an international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to the ICC, this armed conflict began no later than February 26, 2014, when Russia used its armed forces to gain control of parts of Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian government. According to the court, the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol after March 18, 2014 constitutes an ongoing occupation to which the law on international armed conflicts continues to apply. The ICC lists cases of possible war crimes since the Russian takeover of Crimea that may fall within the jurisdiction of the court. These are the persecution of Crimean Tatars , murder and kidnapping of opponents of the Russian occupation, ill-treatment in connection with arrest or kidnapping, and forced service in the Russian military. According to the ICC, the fighting in eastern Ukraine that has been going on since July 14, 2014 at the latest points to an international armed conflict between Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. Signs of this are, for example, the arrest of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory. Possible war crimes committed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine include murder, destruction of civilian objects such as schools and kindergartens, torture and sexual violence.
International Court of Justice
On January 16, 2017, Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia in the International Court of Justice. Ukraine accuses Russia of violating the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by persecuting Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea, as well as violating the International Convention on Combating the Financing of Terrorism by supplying arms and other assistance to armed groups operating on Ukrainian soil operate area. These groups have committed acts of terrorism, such as the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 , using weapons provided by Russia . Hearings began on March 6, 2017.
Further individual events, arranged chronologically
On March 17, 2014, Oleh Tsarev , as deputy chairman of the opposition Party of Regions , called for extensive autonomy for the eastern parts of the country to calm the situation and also spoke out in favor of a federal system with great autonomy for the parts of Ukraine. The Ukrainian constitution would have to be changed for this.
On March 18, the headquarters of the Ukrainian secret service in Odessa was stormed in order to free the leader Davidchenko, who was arrested the day before and is accused of separatism .
Separatists in Sloviansk “swapped” Ukrainian television channels with Russian ones on April 19 after gaining access to a broadcasting tower. In addition, internet connections were cut and the local press was censored and prevented from working. The pro-Russian mayor Nelya Igorivna Shtepa disappeared after an interview in which she was critical of the armed men who continued to occupy her office. She is "recovering from surgery," a separatist leader said.
According to the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS , from April 19 to 20 there was a firefight between two groups of civilians near Sloviansk.
On April 28, about 500 pro-Russian activists attacked a march of 1,000 pro-Ukrainian protesters, despite police attempts to defuse the situation. As a result, four to seven pro-Ukrainian demonstrators were held hostage by pro-Russian separatists.
On the same day, Gennady Kernes, Mayor of Kharkiv , who was initially seen as a supporter of the pro-Russian activists but later assumed a mediating position, was shot and critically injured by an unknown assassin during morning exercise.
In Sloviansk on May 2, militias used grenade launchers and anti-tank guns ; they shot down two attacking Mi-24 attack helicopters with one-man surface-to-air missiles . The Ukrainian army recaptured parts of Sloviansk.
On May 9, at least 21 people died in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol, according to the Ukrainian interim government.
On May 4, the German media reported that the Ukrainian transitional government in Kiev was taking advice from representatives of the American services, the FBI and CIA, on how to proceed against insurgent paramilitaries in the east of the country. Interior Minister Avakov accused the insurgents of using heavy weapons. Ukrainian troops pushed back separatist units in the Sloviansk area and recaptured the transmission tower near Andreyevka, which separatists had occupied in mid-April. The Russian TV channels they installed there were again replaced by Ukrainian programs.
In an ambush near Kramatorsk on May 13, six National Guard militiamen were killed and eight others injured when National Guard armored personnel carriers were fired upon with rocket -propelled grenades. A pro-Russian activist was also killed. A Russian source claimed Ukraine would deploy Mi-24 attack helicopters painted white and bearing the UN logo. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon vehemently denied this. He stressed that no UN mission was authorized in eastern Ukraine.
On May 22, the separatists blew up a bridge near Lysychansk .
After Ukrainian border posts were closed due to shelling in early June, Russia protested. On June 21, RIA reported that Russia, for its part, had closed border crossings after fighting.
In mid-June 2014, two Russian journalists from the Rossiya 24 television station were killed by a grenade near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. In a phone call, Ukrainian President Poroshenko expressed his condolences over the event to Russian President Putin. He assured Putin that the case would be investigated and that measures would be taken to protect journalists.
At least 19 soldiers were killed in an attack with BM-21 rocket launchers on July 11, 2014 near the village of Rowenky near Luhansk, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. President Poroshenko then threatened the pro-Russian separatists with retaliation. Not a single terrorist will escape responsibility. According to the Ukrainian armed forces, around 1,000 separatists were killed in airstrikes in eastern Ukraine on July 12, 500 of them in Toretsk alone . The pro-Russian insurgents dismissed the number as incorrect, but confirmed the massive rocket fire. The Donetsk city administration announced that 12 people were killed and several injured in fighting in two parts of the city.
On July 13, several media outlets, citing Russian sources, reported that a missile fired in Ukraine damaged two houses and killed one person in Russia's Rostov region. In this context, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the Ukrainian government of “provocation” and warned Kiev of “irreversible consequences”. The Ukrainian government denied any responsibility for the shelling. Shells had also landed in Russia in the Luhansk region, according to Russian media from separatist howitzers.
According to the authorities, at least eight civilians, including a child, were killed in renewed heavy fighting in the Luhansk area on July 15. The Luhansk administration announced that residents of the city were caught in the line of fire during massive clashes between government units and pro-Russian separatists. More than 50 other civilians were injured. Eleven people were killed in an air raid on a residential building in the town of Snizhne on the same day. The parties to the conflict have given different answers as to who was responsible for the attack. While pro-Russian separatists and Russian media spoke of a Ukrainian Air Force plane firing five rockets at the house, Ukraine's National Security Council said the Ukrainian planes were all grounded at the time. It is a provocation aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian army.
According to the city administration, more than 20 civilians were killed in fighting around Luhansk on July 18. According to the Ukrainian Presidential Office, the south-eastern part of the city is now under the control of government troops. After the alleged downing of the Malaysian passenger plane, Parliament Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov called on the West to supply Ukraine with more weapons. You need modern weapons and war technology to fight the "terrorists".
On August 4, 2014, Russian air forces in the Astrakhan region conducted a five-day exercise "to repel enemy missile attacks" with more than 100 fighter jets.
On the night of August 6, two Ukrainian Air Force planes fired several rockets at a road inside the city of Donetsk.
Occupations and demonstrations in March and April 2014
On March 1, 2014, pro-Russian activists led by Pavel Gubarev stormed the Donetsk regional administration building . They hoisted the Russian flag , urged deputies to call a referendum on the future of the oblast, and appointed Gubarev "people's governor." The building was later evacuated, Gubarev arrested (and later exchanged for officers captured by militias).
On March 13 in Donetsk, an opponent of the pro-Russian protests was stabbed to death after several hundred demonstrators turned on each other. At least 16 people were injured.
Two pro-Russian activists were shot dead on March 14 when they tried to storm a Right Sector party office after a clash over the Lenin monument on Freedom Square in Kharkiv . 29 members of the right-wing group were arrested by the police after the shooting.
On March 16, more than 5,000 demonstrators in Odessa called for a referendum on whether to stay in Ukraine. In Kharkiv the office of the Right Sector was stormed. A TV report by the Reuters news agency showed how pro-Russian activists in Donetsk climbed over an iron gate, smashed a minibus and broke into rooms of the Ukrainian cultural center. It was also seen how Ukrainian -language books, including one about the Holodomor , were packed up and burned in the street along with promotional material from the far-right Pravyj Sector . Protesters marched through Donetsk city center with an oversized Russian flag. Activists broke into the office of the Ukrainian intelligence service and then proceeded to the headquarters of the Donbass Industrial Union , a major Ukrainian steel company owned by Sergei Taruta .
In Mariupol , participants in a demonstration involving several thousand participants stormed the city council on March 18 and demanded a meeting to discuss a referendum. Activists' demands also included decent wages and economic stability in the south-east of the country.
On March 18, Yatsenyuk responded to demands from the party-political opposition and, in a speech addressed to the people of eastern Ukraine, promised a new constitution that would give the regions more independence. Two days later, the interim government also called on the militias to surrender all weapons they illegally possessed. On April 24, the government confirmed that it would push ahead with the regionalization of the country.
On March 20, Irina Gorina, a Rada deputy from the Party of Regions , called on parliament to recognize that the Kiev revolution had frightened the people of Crimea and urged other deputies to turn their attention to the country's pro-Russian population judge. She accused the incumbent Prime Minister Yatsenyuk of not having started speaking to the south and east of the country “in a human language” until March 18. His promise not to ban the Russian language and to give the regions more independence should have come much earlier.
On March 22, more than 5,000 pro-Russian demonstrators protested in Donetsk demanding a referendum on annexation to the Russian Federation.
A demonstration involving several thousand people was reported from Donetsk on March 23. The rally spoke out against the presidential elections scheduled for May 25th . A nationwide ban on all fascist organizations and the disarmament of the Right Sector were demanded. The association agreement signed with the European Union on March 21 was rejected as "illegal". The regional parliament of the oblast has asked for a referendum to be held on April 27th.
On March 29, more than 2,000 demonstrators in Luhansk called for a referendum to transform Ukraine into a federation. 3,000 people demonstrated in Donetsk; Members of the Russian bloc conducted a poll on the transformation of Ukraine into a federation, the status of the Russian language, the possibility of Ukraine joining the Eurasian Economic Community and cooperation with NATO.
On March 30, more than 2,000 people demonstrated in Odessa under the slogan "Stop the repression!" for the release of Anton Davidchenko and for a referendum. The police prevented a riot with counter-demonstrators carrying Ukrainian flags and speaking out against separatism. There were also pro-Russian demonstrations in Zaporizhia and Dnepropetrovsk.
On April 6, the buildings of the regional administrations in Donetsk and Kharkiv were stormed. Russian flags were hoisted on the roofs. The building in Donetsk was barricaded by around 100 activists. According to a news agency, 1,500 people took part in the protests before the building was stormed. According to observers, the action appeared to have been coordinated with similar events in Luhansk. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of directing the action in order to provoke a pretext for an invasion by Russian troops, who were still around 30 km from the Ukrainian state border.
On April 7, Russian state television broadcast an event at which pro-Russian activists in Donetsk proclaimed a so-called “sovereign Donetsk People's Republic ”. They called for a referendum on the separation of the Donetsk region from Ukraine to be held by May 11, 2014 at the latest. However, according to Western observers, support for the pro-Russian demonstrators is significantly lower here than in Crimea. On April 8, 2014, the People's Council withdrew the declaration.
On April 8, a MP from the nationalist Svoboda Party attacked a speaker from the Communist Party in Parliament . The head of the KPU, Symonenko , had accused the governing parties of setting a precedent for the pro-Russian demonstrators in eastern Ukraine by occupying government buildings during the Euromaidan in Kiev. Symonenko was then physically attacked by Svoboda MPs while he was still speaking in parliament .
On April 9, 2014, the interim government announced that the military would evacuate the occupied buildings in eastern Ukraine if necessary.
At the same time, Russia temporarily moved additional troops for maneuvers close to the Ukrainian border. According to media reports, the troop strength at that time reached 40,000 men.
On April 12, armed demonstrators attacked and occupied police stations in several cities of Donetsk Oblast . According to the acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov , there was an exchange of fire between the militia and unknown assailants in Kramatorsk .
According to the Interior Minister, on April 13 there was an armed clash in Sloviansk between the units sent by the Ukrainian Interior Minister Avakov and the armed "demonstrators" who took control of the police headquarters and the headquarters of the Sloviansk secret service SBU the day before had. There were dead and injured on both sides. The attempt by the special units sent to gain control of the occupied administration building failed.
Change of governor on 2./3. March 2014
On March 2 and 3, 2014, the interim President of Ukraine Turchynov (President of Parliament since February 22, 2014 and Interim President since February 23, 2014) replaced a number of regional governors in the southern and eastern Ukrainian regions by presidential decree, most of them non-partisan personalities or officials replaced by the parties that had come into power a week earlier.
Replaced southern and eastern Ukrainian governors
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- Donetsk ghost town. NZZ, September 10, 2014; "Hooligans? Traitor? Let's shoot it on the spot.”
- Ukraine death toll rises to more than 4,300 despite ceasefire - UN Reuters, November 20, 2014.
- Bishop: Dozens starved to death in eastern Ukraine. Kath.net, February 7, 2015.
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- Ukraine despite everything , SRF DOK , March 17, 2016, minutes 29 and 31; "It's a lawless territory with no future."
- Odessa's zero hour - page 2/2: In Odessa vigilante justice is already rooted before the day of the accident. In: The time. May 1, 2015.
- Yuriy Andrukhovych : "PUTIN HAS ACHIEVED SOMETHING THAT UKRAINIANS HAVE FAILED TO ACHIEVE IN 23 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE". ( Memento of February 6, 2016 at the Internet Archive ) Jürg Vollmer , website, April 3, 2015.
- Klitschko: "We need success". Deutsche Welle, January 30, 2015.
- The man who endured a hunger strike for 144 days , NZZ , October 26, 2018.
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- "There will be no people, a steppe will remain." , Spectrum , October 19, 2019.
- Kiev ends ceasefire with separatists. Spiegel Online, July 1, 2014.
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- Bought demonstrators in Donetsk and Kharkiv?: How Putin wants to further weaken Ukraine. Rheinische Post, April 8, 2014.
- Putin's calculated confusion over Ukraine. In: Die Welt , June 22, 2014.
- Kuchma, Yushchenko and Kravchuk address Putin in an open letter with allegations of aggression. rbth.com on June 23, 2014, accessed on June 24, 2014.
- Publication Military-Industrial Courier. Feb 27, 2013; German translation on archived copy ( Memento of 6 September 2014 at the Internet Archive ) "The open deployment of troops - often under the guise of peacekeeping operations and crisis management - is reserved for a specific phase of the conflict, mainly to bring about ultimate victory."
- Propaganda breeds conflict. ( Memento of September 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) furche.at, May 14, 2014; “All polls indicate that there was never any internal ethnic antagonism between Russians and Ukrainians. Today, however, the conflict exists and it is generated by propaganda”.
- MH17 Witness Appeal November 2019 , on the Dutch police website politie.nl/; "These witnesses stated that the key figures of the armed group were directed from within the Russian Federation."
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- Putin on the phone with Obama - No solution in sight. In: NZZ, April 15, 2014. Slightly different translation: Addressing concerns expressed by the US President about alleged Russian interference in southeastern Ukraine, the President of Russia said that this was "speculation" based on "unreliable information".
- Putin rejects US allegations - slightly different translation with "inaccurate information". Die Zeit, April 15, 2014.
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- Russia's aid convoy - a cover-up tactic. Stefan Hedlund, August 18, 2014.
- Lavrov rejects all criticism of Russia. Tages-Anzeiger, December 6, 2014.
- Russia turns deaf NZZ, December 5, 2014; “The view propagated by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was sophisticated in that while it adopted the vocabulary of the OSCE principles, it gave them a completely different meaning. Thus, Lavrov emphasized the right to self-determination, aiming at the residents of Crimea. He accused NATO of aggression and accused the West of erecting “artificial barriers” – by which he presumably meant those between Russians in Russia and ethnic Russians. He recalled the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and thus guarded against criticism.”
- Poroshenko speaks of around 9,000 Russian military in Ukraine. Sputnik News, January 21, 2015.
- Echo of the Times: Mobilization in the Ukraine. SRF January 20, 2014; the place is visible to everyone; just search “Chkalova, Rostovskaya oblast” on Google Maps and look at the fields to the south.
- Julian Borger, Eliot Higgins: Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study. In: The Guardian . February 17, 2015, sighted February 17, 2015.
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- Suspicious maneuvers in the Donbass , NZZ, August 15, 2018, p. 5.
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- Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in April (doc file).
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- Putin is very smart - Yes, Ukraine is very close to the Russians. This is precisely why it is so unnatural to pounce on them: clear words from the prominent Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva. In: The Magazine, March 28, 2014.
- Ukraine conflict: Turning up the TV heat. BBC, August 10, 2014.
- Crimea: Putin vs. Reality. The New York Review Of Books, March 7, 2014; “But in the end propaganda is all that unites the tactics and the dream, and that unity turns out to be wishful. There is no actual policy, no strategy, just a talented and tortured tyrant oscillating between mental worlds that are connected only by a tissue of lies."
- Ukraine: A dangerous game Al Jazeera background magazine People and Power, unfortunately the incomplete quote at minute 1:40.
- Original video of Putin's speech of March 18 - minute 14:30 with simultaneous German translation. For confirmation of the translation of the text, see the Al Jazeera reference or refer to: http://derunbequeme.blogspot.ch/2014/03/putins-rede-zur-krim-im-wortlaut.html
- Text of Putin's speech in Russian on the Kremlin's website
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- How Putin uses his army of journalists. In: Die Welt from May 6, 2014 with a comparison of journalist awards with Georgia 2008:11.
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- Putin's speech on March 18, 2014. Phoenix, March 18, 2014, minute 12:30 to 13:25 on the cause of the protest in Ukraine: "I understand very well who came to the Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state administration and against poverty and for the right for democratic procedures" - / - Minute 14:30 designation as "terror, murder and pogrom", carried out by (name for the transitional government): "nationalists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis and Russophobes, who determined life in Ukraine in the current government in Kiev” (with German simultaneous translation).
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- Don't mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says. Yahoo News, August 29, 2014.
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- Sunday newspaper , February 8, 2015; Five minutes before the great war. p. 2
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- 240 mm Mortars for 2S4 “Tyulpan” in Donetsk ( Memento of 8 July 2015 at the Internet Archive ); Burkonews.info, November 8, 2014.
- Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 5 July 2015. In: osce.org. OSCE 6 July 2015, retrieved 7 July 2015 (English): "Also in "DPR"-controlled areas, two MBTs were observed...as well as one 240 mm mortar (Tyulpan) near Komsomolske (44 km south-east of Donetsk).”
- Ukrainian Sergeant: This Is Now A War With Russia. Business Insider August 27, 2014.
- OSCE Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine at the 789-th FSC Plenary Meeting. May 20, 2015, retrieved July 25, 2015 (Ukrainian information): "According to General Viktor Muzhenko, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,...The detainees have tested that they belong to the 3rd Special Forces Brigade of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, which is permanently stationed in the city of Toliatti.…A silenced sniper rifle "Vintorez", which is used exclusively in the Special Forces of Russia, was retrieved from one of those captured."
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- When Russians are killed, you must defend them. gazeta.ru, February 13, 2015.
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- Ministry of Defense announced military casualties in 2012-2016 , Vedomosti, December 4, 2017.
Они там были (Eng. They were there ). In: Novaya Gazeta. 24 June 2018.
The Talking Tombstones . In: Decoder.org . June 26, 2018; German-language version of the report by Novaya Gazeta.
Russian dead in Ukraine: the wreaths are disappearing from the graves . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Aug 27, 2014.
- Death has no right to be ordinary , Novaya Gazeta, July 17, 2017 (Russian)
Обвиняемый в гибели призывника офицер попросил суд о снисхождении, потому что участвовал в боевых действиях на востоке Украины (dt. Because murder of a military services accused officer asks court for leniency because he took part in fighting in eastern Ukraine ). In: Novaya Gazeta. 5 July 2018.
Russian officer on trial gives the game away over Ukraine . In: The Times. July 9, 2018.
- The views and opinions of South-Eastern regions residents of Ukraine: April 2014. Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), 20 April 2014, accessed 13 May 2014 (English, press release with survey results).
- Invasion - just in a different form. In: Kurier.at . 8 March 2014, retrieved 24 February 2015 . ; Calm before the storm. In Donetsk, the pro-Russian occupiers are arming themselves for a showdown with state power. The population hopes for a peaceful solution. In: taz . April 9, 2014, retrieved February 24, 2014 : " But the separatists don't have much popular support. People expect the administration building to be stormed, as they have observed the actions of the security forces in other cities. This action could then provide a reason for the Russians to invade. That's why everyone is afraid of being stormed." " ; Separatists in eastern Ukraine are waiting in vain for soldiers from Russia. In: wsj.de. April 10, 2014, retrieved on February 24, 2015 : "" There will probably not be a rapid repetition of the events in Crimea in eastern Ukraine. The support of the population is too weak, the resistance in Kiev and in the Ukraine is too strong West." “ ; Support for separatists is declining. Handelsblatt of May 20, 2014; Oligarch Akhmetov is clearly opposed to the separatists. Der Bund, May 23, 2014 People initially had sympathy for the separatists, but now many have had enough of the growing insecurity; Kiev goes on the attack. Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 27, 2014: They have hardly any support among the population in the east. People there are tired of the violence but also afraid. In individual cases even people defend themselves against the fighters.; The separatists have lost the support of the population ( Memento of July 5, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) ZDF, July 7, 2014; game for time. After defeats, the pro-Russian separatists withdrew to the city of Donetsk. They are powerless - but dangerous. Zeit, July 10, 2014: Public support is dwindling even further: last Sunday just 1,000 people took to the streets in Donetsk to support the separatists. The harder the day-to-day life, the greater the impatience with this motley crew of fighters and bandits occupying the city.; tagesspiegel.de Tagesspiegel, July 22, 2014 The separatists have no support among the population of eastern Ukraine. They can only continue fighting as long as Putin supports them with weapons, ammunition and mercenaries; Fear and frustration in Donetsk. NZZ, July 24, 2014: There are indications that the separatists are rapidly losing support.; Russia relies on escalation - separatists introduce death penalty. NZZ, August 18, 2014; "There are many indications that the rebels are at odds with each other and have mostly lost the support of the local population."; Possible ceasefire in eastern Ukraine: Putin's stage victory. Spiegel, September 3, 2014: "The situation in the "People's Republics" was fragile until the very end, their commanders complained about the lack of support among the population, and by mid-August they were losing one town after the other."
- Locals call them invaders: more than a hundred volunteers return to Yekaterinburg from Ukraine. e1.ru, April 15, 2015; "Local people called us occupiers".
- "Are you for peace?" - and slapped me in the eye Novaya Gazeta, June 18, 2015.
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- How a Belarusian volunteer views the Ukrainian war
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- Eight fighters returned from eastern Ukraine arrested in Spain. ( Memento of June 13, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) zeit.de, February 27, 2015; "extreme leftist".
- Serbian fighters in eastern Ukraine. www.dw.de, August 6, 2014, retrieved June 9, 2014.
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- For the first time, Italy arrests far-right Italians who fought in Ukraine . In: The Washington Post. August 6, 2018.
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- (See also last reference "Politics") Radio interviews with Sabine Adler: "Second conversation also ends without results"
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