CHRONOLOGY – The turbulent history of Ukraine since independence in 1991
Russia has massed troops near Ukraine and the West has threatened economic sanctions if it launches an invasion. Moscow denies planning an invasion, but has demanded broad Western security guarantees amid a tense standoff. Here is a timeline of major events in Ukraine’s political history since its independence from Moscow in 1991.
* 1991: Leonid Kravtchouk, head of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, declares his independence from Moscow. In a referendum and presidential election, Ukrainians approve independence and elect Kravchuk’s president. * 1994: Kravchuk loses a presidential election to Leonid Kuchma, also a former communist, in elections deemed largely free and fair by observers. * 1999: Kuchma was re-elected in 1999 in a ballot strewn with irregularities. * 2004: Pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych is proclaimed president, but allegations of voter fraud spark protests in what becomes known as the Orange Revolution, forcing a resumption of voting. A former pro-Western prime minister, Viktor Yushchenko, is elected president. * 2005: Yushchenko takes power with the promise to take Ukraine out of the Kremlin’s orbit, towards NATO and the EU. He appoints the former boss of the energy company Yulia Tymoshenko to the post of Prime Minister but, after internal struggles in the Ukrainian pro-Western camp, she is sacked. * 2008: NATO promises Ukraine that it will one day join the alliance. * 2010: Yanukovych defeats Tymoshenko in a presidential election. Russia and Ukraine strike a deal on gas prices in exchange for extending the Russian Navy’s lease at a Ukrainian Black Sea port. * 2013: The Yanukovych government suspends trade and association negotiations with the EU in November and chooses to revive economic ties with Moscow, triggering months of mass rallies in Kiev. * 2014: Demonstrations, largely concentrated around Kiev’s Maidan Square, turn violent. Dozens of protesters are killed. In February, parliament votes to dismiss Yanukovych, who flees. Within days, armed men seized the parliament of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and hoisted the Russian flag. Moscow annexes the territory after a March 16 referendum that shows overwhelming support in Crimea for joining the Russian Federation. – In April, pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region declare independence. Fighting breaks out and continues sporadically, despite frequent ceasefires, until 2022.
– In May, businessman Petro Poroshenko wins a presidential election with a pro-Western program. – In July, a missile shoots down passenger plane MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. The weapon used is traced by investigators to Russia, which denies any involvement. * 2017: An association agreement between Ukraine and the EU is adopted, opening markets for free trade in goods and services and allowing Ukrainians to travel visa-free to the EU. * 2019: A new Ukrainian Orthodox Church obtains official recognition, angering the Kremlin.
– Former actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy defeats Poroshenko in a presidential election in April and promises to fight corruption and end the simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine. His Servant of the People party wins the July legislative elections. – US President Donald Trump asks Zelenskiy in July to investigate Joe Biden, then his rival in the US presidential race, and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, about possible business dealings in Ukraine. The appeal ultimately leads to an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Trump. * March 2020 – Ukraine enters its first lockdown to curb COVID-19. * June 2020 – IMF approves $5 billion lifeline to help Ukraine avoid default during a pandemic-induced recession. *January 2021 – Zelenskiy appeals to Biden, who is now President of the United States, for Ukraine to join NATO. * February 2021 – Zelenskiy’s government imposes sanctions on Viktor Medvedchuk, an opposition leader and the Kremlin’s most important ally in Ukraine. * Spring 2021 – Russia is massing troops near Ukraine’s borders. They are partly dispersed after what Russia says is a training exercise. * Oct. 2021 – Ukraine uses a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone for the first time in eastern Ukraine, angering Russia. * Fall 2021 – Russia resumes massing troops near Ukraine. * December 7 – Biden warns Russia of sweeping Western economic sanctions if it invades Ukraine. * December 17 – Russia presents detailed security demands, including a legally binding guarantee that NATO will renounce all military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. * Jan. 10 – US and Russian diplomats fail to narrow differences over Ukraine, and subsequent talks also fail to bring any major breakthroughs. * January 14 – A cyberattack warning Ukrainians to ‘be afraid and expect the worst’ hits Ukrainian government websites. * Jan. 17 – Poroshenko returns to Ukraine to face treason charges. Russian forces are beginning to arrive in Belarus, northern Ukraine, for joint exercises. * January 24 – NATO puts its forces on standby and reinforces Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter planes. Some Western countries are beginning to evacuate non-essential staff from embassies in Kyiv. * January 26 – Washington presents a written response to Russia’s security demands, reiterating its commitment to NATO’s “open door” policy while offering a “reasoned and pragmatic assessment” of Moscow’s concerns. * Jan. 28 – Putin says Russia’s key security demands have not been addressed, but Moscow is ready to keep talking.
(Compiled by Kiev office and Gareth Jones, edited by Timothy Heritage)
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)