World, Europe

‘Maidan Revolution,’ annexation of Crimea and Russia-Ukraine war

Almost 8 years after illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia recognizes separatist regions as 'independent states', launches war on Ukraine

Burak Bir  | 18.03.2022 - Update : 22.03.2022
‘Maidan Revolution,’ annexation of Crimea and Russia-Ukraine war People attend a ceremony in memory of the killed demonstrators at a memorial of "Heavenly Hundred" (demonstrators killed in 2014 during the Maidan revolution), on the Instytutska Street in the center of Kiev, Ukraine, on November 21, 2021. ( Vladimir Shtanko - Anadolu Agency )


The February 2014 “Maidan Revolution” in Ukraine led to former President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and a pro-Western government coming to power.

This was followed by Russia illegally annexing the Crimea region and separatists declaring independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations.

Almost eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin in February recognized Ukraine’s breakaway regions as “independent states” and launched a war on its neighbor.

Here is a timeline of developments before and after the annexation:

November 2013:

- Then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announces the suspension of preparations for the pact between Kyiv and Brussels, and refuses to sign an association agreement with the EU.

- After the decision, mass street protests erupt in Ukraine, which is said to be the largest since the Orange Revolution protests.

- Amid protests in the country, the EU and six ex-Soviet countries, including Ukraine, gather for closer ties at a two-day conference in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

December 2013:

- Mass protests continue in the capital Kyiv as some of the protesters start to enter official buildings.

- NATO releases a statement, condemning the "use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators" which draws criticism from Russia.

- Yanukovych criticizes officials of some Western countries visiting the anti-government protesters at squares, saying he is against any foreign interference in Ukraine's internal affairs.

January 2014:

- Tensions rise after anti-government protesters in Ukraine occupy a government building in the capital and some of the demonstrators are killed.

- Meanwhile, Yanukovych offers the country's main opposition leader the post of prime minister in an attempt to end the country's two-month-long political crisis.

- However, oppositions leaders in the countries turn down the offer, saying: "We are prepared to take over the government, with the purpose of leading the country into the European Union."

In late January, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov resigns in a bid to end the country's weeks-long political crisis.

February 2014:

- The day after the meeting between Yanukovych and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, the Ukrainian president agrees on a coalition government, says Vladimir Rybak, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament.

- Following the meeting with his German counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that the Ukrainians should be allowed to resolve matters themselves.

- Ukrainian anti-government protesters end a two-month occupation of the City Hall in the country's capital, Kyiv.

- The country's ongoing political crisis takes a deadly turn on Feb. 18, as violent protests in the capital Kyiv leave 25 people dead, according to the Interior Ministry.

- Following the deadly incident, Yanukovych announces a truce with the opposition.

- EU foreign ministers agree to impose sanctions on Ukraine after violent clashes leave at least 86 people dead in just two days.

- The Ukrainian president says that a deal has been reached with leaders of the opposition, EU, and Russian representatives.

- The Verkhovna Rada – Ukraine's parliament – votes unanimously to impeach Yanukovych and sets early presidential elections for May 25.

- Following the impeachment vote, Yanukovych flees the country and pro-Western politicians take over the government.

- At the same time, Russia starts to deploy its troops in Crimea, occupying a government building in the peninsula, after the February protests, also known as the Revolution of Dignity.

March 2014:

- After Russia's decision to deploy troops in Ukraine’s Crimea, the UN Security Council, NATO, and EU foreign ministers decide to hold extraordinary meetings.

- The upper house of Russia’s parliament approves the use of military force in Crimea, after which Russia gives Ukraine's forces in Crimea an ultimatum to surrender.

- Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov says that the country's armed forces are ready to protect the country.

- Meanwhile, Muslim minority Tatars living in the Crimea are manning the streets and mosques as they fear a repeat of the exile they faced in 1944 under Joseph Stalin, which saw them scattered in labor camps across the barren steppes of Central Asia.

- Crimea's newly appointed pro-Russia Prime Minister Sergei Aksenov announces that a referendum may be held in March.

- Russia reports testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, as tensions remain high over its intervention in Crimea.

- The Crimean parliament approves a motion to join Russia, in a move decried and defined as illegitimate by then Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

- Crimean Tatars says an urgent deployment of a UN peace mission to Crimea is necessary for Ukrainian territorial integrity and for the end of bloodshed in Crimea.

- The Ukrainian Defense Ministry says an airport and five Ukrainian brigades in Crimea have been surrounded by Russian troops.

- No one should attempt to draw new borders on the map of Europe, the NATO secretary-general says, urging Russia to withdraw its troops from the Crimea region.

- Homes belonging to Crimean Tatars have reportedly been marked with an ‘X’ in the central city of Bakhchysarai in Crimea.

- The Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council vote to adopt a declaration of independence from Ukraine in an extraordinary session.

- The Crimean Tatars announce that they will refuse to participate in the referendum, which could have the region join Russia.

- Russia vetoes a UN Security Council resolution, rejecting the referendum in Crimea and its results.

- Official election results claiming that 96.7% of votes cast favor Crimea joining Russia is announced to rapturous cheers in Simferopol's Lenin Square.

- Following the referendum, Western countries start to impose sanctions on Russia. Putin issues executive order on recognizing Crimea as an independent republic.

- Just after the recognition, Putin says that Crimea is Russian land and Simferopol is a Russian city, adding that Russia is not looking for more territories to annex.

- Pro-Russian forces have apparently taken control of the administrative headquarters of Ukraine's Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, a day after Putin announces the annexation.

- NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that Russia’s actions in Crimea are a “wake-up call” for the trans-Atlantic alliance.

- US President Barack Obama explicitly rules out any military intervention in Ukraine, following Russia’s annexation of the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

- Ukraine's parliament recognizes the Crimean Tatars as both Crimea's indigenous population and an official national minority.

- Russia's upper house, Federation Council, approves the deal on Crimea joining the Russian Federation.

April 2014:

- NATO announces that it has suspended "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Russia over its annexation of Crimea, which is condemned as "illegitimate" by the US and EU.

- Putin signs into law a bill to terminate the Russian-Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet agreements, weeks after the annexation of Crimea.

- Ukraine’s ousted former President Yanukovych says in an interview that he was wrong for asking Putin to send troops to Crimea.

- Pro-Russia demonstrators in Ukraine's eastern cities Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv storm government buildings, including the Donetsk and Kharkiv regional administration buildings, and the Luhansk headquarters of the national security services.

- The Council of Europe suspends Russia’s voting rights until the end of 2014 over the annexation.

- Representatives of the EU, US, Ukraine and Russia meet in Geneva and agree on taking steps to “de-escalate” tensions.

- Tatars in Crimea are forced to become Russian citizens, says Crimean leader Mustafa Kirimlioglu.

May 2014:

- Crimean Tatar leader Abdulcemil Kirimoglu returns to Kyiv after he was denied entry into the Crimean Peninsula by Russian forces.

- A senior state official in the breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea threatens to shut down the peninsula’s Crimean Tatar parliament.

- Crimean Tatars are in a dangerously insecure situation and ethnic Ukrainians have become a new focus of concern in the peninsula, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

- Turkiye's Foreign Ministry announces its “strong” support for the Crimean Tatars, marking the 70th anniversary of their forced exile under Stalin in 1944 from Crimea to Central Asia.

- Putin says that Russia will respect the outcome of Ukraine's upcoming presidential election.

- Billionaire Petro Poroshenko wins Ukraine’s presidential election and vows "to ensure peace and stability" while seeking to return Crimea to the country.

June 2014:

- The Russian ruble becomes the only legal currency in Crimea as Ukraine’s hryvnia is made foreign currency in the peninsula.

- Petro Poroshenko has been sworn-in as the new president of Ukraine, promising to preserve the country's unity after months of civil unrest.

- Crimean Tatars say they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that their rights have been violated in Crimea.

July 2014:

- Refat Chubarov, head of Crimean Tatars' self-governing national assembly, has been slapped with a five-year entry ban to Crimea by the peninsula's pro-Russian administration.

- Crimea is part of Russia and there will be no discussions on handing it to Ukraine, Kremlin says.

- More than 14,000 people, mostly Tatars, have fled Crimea since the annexation, according to a UN report.

Russia's war on Ukraine

Eight years after the annexation of Crimea, Russia recognized eastern Ukraine's separatist regions Donetsk and Luhansk as "independent states" and started war on Ukraine.

On March 11, Turkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said if the West had spoken out against invasion of Crimea in 2014, the present Russian-Ukraine crisis would have been prevented.

Russia launched its war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, drawing international condemnation.

At least 816 civilians have been killed and 1,333 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, which says the true number is likely much higher.

More than 3.27 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, according to UN figures.

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