Ukraine Uprising Crisis Timeline
Since the removal of President Viktor Yanukovich through deadly anti-government protests, Ukraine has called for fresh presidential elections on May 25.
The move was countered by the Crimea administration that voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in a referendum deemed illegitimate by the US and EU, but welcomed by Russia.
As the government in Kiev continues to emphasize the need for a united Ukraine, and world leaders strive to avoid military conflict, here is a timeline of some of the events that have led to the current situation.
Timeline of Crisis:
Nov 21: Yanukovich announces abandonment of a trade agreement with the EU, seeking closer ties with Moscow.
Nov 30: Public support grows for pro-EU anti-government protesters as images of them bloodied by police crackdown spread online and in the media.
Dec 1: About 300,000 people protest in Kiev’s Independence Square. The City Hall is seized by activists.
Jan 16: Anti-protest laws are passed and quickly condemned as “draconian”.
Dec 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin announces plans to buy $15 billion in Ukrainian government bonds and a cut in cost of Russia’s natural gas for Ukraine.
Jan 22: Two protesters die after being hit with live ammunition. A third dies following a fall during confrontation with police.
Jan 28: Mykola Azarov resigns as Ukraine’s prime minister and the parliament repeals anti-protest laws that caused the demonstrations to escalate in the first place.
Jan 29: A bill is passed, promising amnesty for arrested protesters if seized government buildings are relinquished.
Jan 31: Opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov found outside Kiev after being imprisoned and tortured for eight days, apparently at the hands of a pro-Russian group.
Feb 16: Opposition activists end occupation of Kiev City Hall. In exchange 234 jailed protesters are released.
Feb 18: More street clashes leave at least 18 dead and around a hundred injured. Violence begins when protesters attack police lines after the parliament stalls in passing constitutional reform to limit presidential powers. Protesters take back government buildings.
Feb 20: Violence resumes within hours of a truce being announced. Government snipers shoot protesters from rooftops leading to deadliest day of the crisis so far with over 70 deaths.
Feb 21: Protest leaders, the political opposition and Yanukovich agree to form a new government and hold early elections. Yanukovich’s powers are slashed. The parliament votes to free Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, from prison. Yanukovich flees Kiev after protesters take control of the capital.
Feb 22: Ukraine politicians vote to remove Yanikovich. Tymoshenko is freed from prison and speaks to those gathered in Kiev. May 25 is set for fresh presidential elections.
Feb 23: Ukraine’s parliament assigns presidential powers to its new speaker, Oleksandr Turchinov, an ally of Tymoshenko. Pro-Russian protesters rally in Crimea against the new Kiev administration.
Feb 24: Ukraine’s interim government draws up a warrant for Yanukovich’s arrest.
Feb 25: Pro-Russian Aleksey Chaly is appointed Sevastopol’s de facto mayor as rallies in Crimea continue.
Feb 26: Crimean Tartars supporting the new Kiev administration clash with pro-Russia protesters in the region. Potential members of the new Ukrainian government appear before crowds in Independence Square. Turchinov announces disbanding of Berkut – the feared riot police. Russian troops near border with Ukraine are put on alert and drilled for “combat readiness”.
Feb 27: Pro-Kremlin armed men seize government buildings in Crimea. Ukraine government vows to prevent a country break-up as Crimean parliament set May 25 as the date for referendum on region’s status. Yanukovich is granted refuge in Russia.
Feb 28: Armed men in unmarked combat fatigues seize Simferopol international airport and a military airfield in Sevestopol. The Ukrainian government accuses Russia of aggression. UN Security Council holds an emergency closed-door session to discuss the situation in Crimea. The US warns Russia of militarily intervening in Ukraine.
Moscow says military movements in Crimea are in line with previous agreements to protect its fleet position in the Black Sea. Yanukovich makes his first public appearance, in southern Russia.
March 1: As situation worsens in Crimea, local leaders ask for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help. Russian upper house of the parliament approves a request by Putin to use military power in Ukraine.
March 2: A convoy of hundreds of Russian troops heads towards the regional capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a day after Russia’s forces takes over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot. Arseny Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s new prime minister, says his country is on the “brink of disaster” and accuses Russia of declaring war on his country.
March 3: NATO says Moscow is threatening peace and security in Europe – claims Russia says will not help stabilize the situation. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet tells Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol in Crimea to surrender or face a military assault.
March 4: In his first public reaction to the crisis in Ukraine, Putin says his country reserves the right to use all means to protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces fired warning shots on unarmed Ukrainian soldiers marching towards an airbase in Sevastopol.
March 5: US Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. However, Sergey Lavrov refuses to talk to his Ukrainian counterpart, Andriy Deshchytsia. Meanwhile, NATO announces a full review of its cooperation with Russia. OSCE sends 35 unarmed military personnel to Ukraine for “providing an objective assessment of facts on the ground.”
March 6: US announces visa restrictions on Russians and Ukraine’s Crimeans who it says are “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Meanwhile, Crimea’s parliament votes unanimously in favor of joining Russia. Hours later, the city council of Sevastopol in Crimea announces joining Russia immediately.
March 7: Ukraine offers talks with Russia over Crimea, but on the condition that the Kremlin withdraws troops from the autonomous republic. Meanwhile, top Russian politicians meet Crimea’s delegation with standing ovation and express their support for the region’s aspirations of joining Russia.
March 8: Warning shots are fired to prevent an unarmed international military observer mission from entering Crimea. Russian forces become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops trapped in bases.
March 9: Yatsenyuk vows Ukraine would not give “an inch” of its territory to Russia during a rally celebrating 200 years since the birth of national hero and poet Taras Shevchenko as rival rallies in Sevastopol lead to violence.
March 10: NATO announces it will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea.
March 11: The EU proposes a package of trade liberalization measures to support Ukraine’s economy. Crimean regional parliament adopts a “declaration of independence”.
March 12: Obama meets with Yatsenyuk at the White House in a show of support for the new Ukrainian government and declares the US would “completely reject” the Crimea referendum.
March 13: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns Moscow of potentially “massive” long-term economic and political damage. Ukraine mobilizes a volunteer “Home Guard”. Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Czhemilev calls for a referendum boycott and NATO intervention to avert a “massacre”.
March 14: Diplomatic efforts before the referendum fails in London, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with US counterpart John Kerry amid threats of sanctions against Russia if it annexes Crimea.
March 15: UN Security Council members vote overwhelmingly in support of a draft resolution condemning an upcoming referendum on the future of Crimea as illegal. Russia vetoed the action and China abstained. It comes as a report claims Russian troops had landed on a strip of land in the southeast between Crimea and the mainland.
March 16: Partial results from Crimea’s referendum show 95 percent of voters support union with Russia, according to Russian state news agency RIA.
March 17: The US and Europe put asset freezes and visa bans on individuals involved in the Crimean breakaway. Putin approves a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state. Local assembly chief says Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea must switch sides or leave.
March 18: Putin signs treaty absorbing Crimea into Russia, the first time the Kremlin expands the country’s borders since World War II. Kiev says the conflict has reached a “military stage” after a Ukrainian soldier was shot and killed by gunmen who stormed a military base in Simferopol. Crimea’s pro-Kremlin police department says a member of the local self-defense forces was also killed in the same incident.
March 19: Pro-Russian activists, apparently Crimean self-defense forces, overtake Sevastopol base without using violence.
March 20: EU leaders condemn Russia’s annexation of Crimea. EU and US extend the list of individuals targeted for sanctions.
March 21: Russia backs off from tit-for-tat sanctions after US targets Putin’s inner circle and EU adds 12 names to sanctions list. Ukraine says it will never accept loss of Crimea while Moscow signs a bill to formally annex the peninsula.March 22: Soldiers take control of Ukrainian air base in Belbek, as Novofedorovka naval base is seized by pro-Russian activists. Crimea celebrates joining Russia.
March 23: About 189 military sites in Crimea are now under the control of Russian troops. Obama calls an emergency G7 meeting, excluding Russia, to be held as an off-shoot to Monday’s G8 nuclear security summit.
March 24: Leaders of the Group of Seven nations, meeting without Russia, agreed to hold their own summit this year instead of attending a planned G8 meeting, due to have taken place June 4-5, in Sochi, along the Black Sea coast from Crimea, and to suspend their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course. They warn Moscow it faces damaging economic sanctions if President Putin takes further action to destabilize Ukraine following the seizure of Crimea.
March 25: Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting president, orders troops to withdraw from Crimea after Russia seized and annexed the peninsula. Turchynov told legislators that both servicemen and their families would now be relocated to the mainland.
For more on the Ukrainian Crisis, see our News Tracker.