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The Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine

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The conflict between Russia and Ukraine began long before tanks began rolling and guns began firing

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine began long before tanks began rolling and guns began firing. The roots of the conflict go back decades, to when these two nations were members of the same Soviet Union — but with different privileges.

Russia and eastern Ukraine

Russia and eastern Ukraine came to resent what they felt was their economic inferiority to western Ukraine, which had access to better markets and resources because it was located in a more developed part of the union. When that union collapsed in 1991, Russia saw it as an opportunity to bring Ukraine back into its sphere of influence.

However, that attempt was met with resistance by those who saw the country’s future as an independent state outside of Moscow’s control. Since then, tension has steadily grown between the two nations until this week’s outbreak of war. In light of all that has happened since, here is a comprehensive timeline of events leading up to today’s crisis:

The collapse of the Soviet Union

1991: Ukraine Becomes an Independent State The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought about the end of the Cold War. The end of that period of intense geopolitical rivalry brought with it the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the birth of several independent states, including Ukraine. Ukraine had been a key component of the Soviet Union since the 1930s, so independence came as a new experience for the Ukrainian people.

The newly independent state’s government had no money and no experience in governing. It was also caught up in a civil war, as separatists in the country’s east tried to secede and form a sovereign state of their own. The newly independent Ukrainian government had no money and no experience in governing. It was also caught up in a civil war, as separatists in the country’s east tried to secede and form a sovereign state of their own.

Meanwhile, Russia had become a new capitalist state and was pursuing economic integration with the rest of the world. In 1994, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan created the Eurasian Customs Union. One of the goals of the union was to create a common market where goods could flow freely among member states and be regulated by a single set of laws. To comply with the laws of the Customs Union, Ukraine had to change its regulatory system. However, the country’s government was unable to do so or to reform its economy. As a result, Ukraine was left out of the Customs Union. This created resentment among Ukrainians, who saw the Customs Union as a way for Russia to assert control over former Soviet states.

Fight over Natural Gas

At the same time, Ukraine saw its neighbour and former ruler as a way to gain access to markets and investment. ## 1994-2004: Russia and Ukraine Fight over Natural Gas was the most common source of energy in Ukraine before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Pipelines that ran through the country carried Russian natural gas to Europe. After Ukraine gained independence, the government signed a contract with Russia to continue shipping gas through the country.

This brought much-needed revenue to the new Ukrainian state and helped it establish a more stable financial system. However, the contract also allowed Russia to influence the Ukrainian government’s policies. This was especially clear in the case of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko opposed the Russian-backed housing project South Stream, which would have run through Ukraine to Europe. However, after receiving a $4 billion loan from Russia to help stabilize his ailing economy, Yushchenko changed his tune. He now advocated for the creation of the South Stream pipeline. In 2004, Russia and Ukraine agreed to create a joint venture to operate the pipelines that ran from Russia to Europe through Ukraine.

This gave Russia a great deal of control over Ukraine’s financial system and energy supplies. ## 2004-2014: Preparing for Confrontation These developments in the mid-2000s laid the foundations for future tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

During this period, the Russian government began to agitate for the reintegration of former Soviet states into the Russian sphere of influence. In 2008, visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the Ukrainian parliament that “Ukraine’s future lies with Russia.” This speech led many Ukrainians to believe that Russia intended to annex parts of their country or cause other problems for Kyiv’s government. Meanwhile, in 2014, Russia sent its military to Georgia to put down an uprising in the country’s two breakaway republics.

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Russian forces invaded the Republic of Crimea

Since Georgia was also seeking to join the Western world, Russia’s actions in Georgia have been seen as a warning that it would not allow other post-Soviet states to rejoin the Western sphere of influence. While the cases of Georgia and Ukraine are different, they have led many observers to believe that Russia is more willing than ever to use force to protect its interests. ## 2014: The Turn to War On February 21, 2014, Russian forces invaded Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which is home to a Russian naval base.

The Black Sea

Russia used its Black Sea Fleet to gain control of the region, which was then under the control of the new pro-Western government. Having been informed by President Putin’s representative in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedev, that Russia would be withdrawing its fleet from the region, the West was caught off guard when Russian special forces took control of the peninsula. This meant that Russian soldiers and equipment were in Ukraine but could still be claimed as being in Russian territory.

The Russian government argued that since it had withdrawn its Black Sea Fleet, the soldiers who were involved in the takeover of the Crimean Peninsula were not part of the military. This has led many to believe that Russia is testing the borders of its territory to determine how much it can get away with while still claiming to be acting within its rights. As Russian troops pushed further into Ukraine, they met little resistance.

This seems to indicate that Ukraine’s government was caught off guard by the speed with which Russia invaded. ## April 2014: Russia Declares Intent to Supply Military Equipment to Ukraine During a meeting with Russian President Putin, Ukrainian President Poroshenko asks him to end all military operations in eastern Ukraine. Putin responds, “We have no military operations [in Ukraine].” Putin also claims that Ukraine requested military assistance and that Russia intends to send armoured vehicles to the country. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, later tells reporters that there was no request from the Ukrainian government for military aid. Regardless, on April 17, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claims that the vehicles will be sent to help Ukrainians “maintain public order.”


Russia denies, plans to send troops to Ukraine

However, the vehicles are not suited for use in urban areas and are better suited for use on open terrain. This has led many to believe that the vehicles may be used to help Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. On May 17, Shoigu tells reporters that the vehicles are still in transit. When asked when they will arrive, he replies, “They are on their way, they will be there soon.” On June 13, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims that the vehicles are “on their way” but that Russia is waiting for Ukraine’s government to approve their entry into the country. ## May 2014: Russia Denies It Intends to Send Troops to Ukraine On May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov claims that Russia has no plans to send troops to Ukraine.

He also says that the vehicles that Russia intends to send to Ukraine are not military vehicles. However, on May 10, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy T. Usheno, claims that the vehicles are Russian military vehicles and that they are already in Ukraine. On May 14, Ukraine’s government claims that Russian military vehicles are still in the country but that their presence is not a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

However, on May 15, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia tells reporters that Russian military vehicles are in the country.


June 2014

This leads many to believe that Russia sent its military to Ukraine as a form of support for Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. On June 12, Russian Senator Viktor Bondarev claims that Russia sent troops to eastern Ukraine to “stabilize the situation.”.

© 2022 Ch Gopikishan Rao

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