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War in Ukraine, Part 3: Russian Annexation of Crimea

Russian forces occupy the streets of Crimea on February 27, 2014. For security reasons, none of the Russian soldiers wore any insignia indicating unit affiliations and nationality. Informally they were referred to as Russia's "green men".


2014, February 19: (1) Sevastopol City Council request President Viktor Yanukovych to bring members of opposition to justice in relation to the incitement of armed confrontation. (2) Russian enabled activists of “Stop Maidan” commemorate Crimean law enforcement agents who died in Kyiv. (3) In Yalta, around 50 anti-government activists demonstrate their support for Euromaidan.

2014, February 20: (1) The speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, announces the possible secession of Crimea from Ukraine if the situation in the country fails to improve. Konstantinov’s announcement is criticized by Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, stating that he was inviting Russian forces to intervene in Crimean internal politics. Konstantinov was in Moscow, Russia, at the time of his announcement. (2) This date marks the start of the Russian military operation against Ukraine based on the inscription on the medal “For the return of Crimea” awarded by the Russian Ministry of Defence after the occupation of Crimea. A Ukrainian law signed in September 2015 also indicates this date as the “date of the start of the temporary occupation”.

2014, February 21: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych flees Kiev during the night to Kharkiv fearing his safety as a result of the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.

2014, February 22: Former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is released from prison by decree adopted by the Ukraine Parliament. The decree was authorized by the Verkhovna Rada in absence of the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled Kyiv fearing for his life.

2014, February 23: (1) In Simferopol, a pro-Euromaidan rally was held in support of the new Ukraine authority. Protesters demand the resignation of the Crimean Parliament while waving flags of Ukraine, Tatar, and the European Union. The Prime Minister of Crimea, Anatolii Mohyliov, declares that Crimea would follow all laws passed by the Ukraine Parliament. (2) Tens of thousands of protesters gather in Sevastopol to protest the new authorities and vote to establish a parallel administration and civil self-defense squads following around 5,000 members in Simferopol who created their own self-defense squads. These protesters waved Russian flags while chanting “Putin is our president” and declared their refusal to pay any further taxes to the Kyiv government, further supported by the arrival of Russian military convoys. (3) In Kerch, pro-Russian protesters attempt to replace the Ukrainian flag atop of City Hall with the flag of the Russian Federation. Around 200 people attend while waving the flags of Russia, orange-black St George, and the ‘United Russia’ party flag. Mayor Oleh Osadchy attempted to disperse the crowd stating that Crimea is the territory of Ukraine, but was accused of treason, and a fight ensued over the flagpole. (4) Russian President Vladimir Putin tasks Russian security agencies to commence work on the return of Crimea under Russian Federation control from Ukraine. (5) Fleeing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych transfers to his stronghold Donetsk Oblast.

2014, February 24: (1) Protesters gather outside the Sevastopol administration offices. Pro-Russian demonstrators accompanied by neo-Cossacks demand a Russian citizen as mayor and call for volunteers to form a militia. Aleksei Chalyi, a Russian national, is appointed as Mayor of Sevastopol. This was controversial since Sevastopol has no Mayor as the Chairman of the Sevastopol City State Administration (the Governor appointed by the President of Ukraine), serves this role. (2) Protesters gather outside Sevastopol city hall as rumors implicate that security forces could arrest Aleksei Chalyi. Police chief Alexander Goncharov confirms that his officers would refuse to execute “criminal orders” issued by Kyiv. Viktor Neganov, an advisor to the interior Minister in Kyiv, condemns the events and describes it as a coup, stating that “Chalyi represents the interests of the Kremlin”. (3) The Chairman of the Sevastopol City State Administration, Vladimir Yatsuba, resigns after he addressed a pro-Russian rally confirming that Crimea is a part of Ukraine. (4) Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych attempts to flee to Moscow from Donetsk via a charter flight until stopped by the Ukrainian State Border Service. (5) The new interim government in Kyiv issues a warrant of arrest for President Viktor Yanukovych for ordering the killings of civilian protesters by the Berkut (Special Police) which functioned under his direct control.

2014, February 25: (1) A pro-Russian crowd blocks the Crimean parliament demanding a referendum on Crimean independence. The rally was arranged by the Crimean Front. (2) A large property owned by President Viktor Yanukovych is discovered close to Sevastopol. The property is around four times the size of the property he had in the capital Kyiv. All administrative buildings fall under the control of the so-called Night Wolves. (3) Russian armored personnel carriers are deployed throughout Sevastopol to “protect Russian interests”. Russian Marines APC’s were located at Nakhimov Square and the courtyard of the Moscow House. (4) Around 400 pro-Russian supporters replace the Ukrainian flag with the flag of the Russian Federation on the Parliament building in Simferopol, Crimea. (5) Former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych arrives in Moscow by means of Russian military assistance arranged by Russian President Vladimir Putin personally.

2014, February 26: Pro-Ukraine protesters clash with pro-Russian protesters at the Crimean Parliament. Russian state television establishes the pretext that the cause for the clashes was as a result of the abolition of a law concerning the status of regional languages. Meanwhile in Russia, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych purchases a luxury residence in Vladimir Putin’s exclusive resort, Barvikha Sanatorium, for US$ 52 million.

Since Ukraine's independence from the USSR, the government of Ukraine was always scrutinized by the West for its high levels of government corruption, which included concerns about Ukraine’s unregulated sales of ex-Soviet armaments to conflict zones subjected to UN arms embargoes (mainly involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout). However, what the foreign audience of the post-independence Ukraine failed to see was the cause for Ukraine’s ‘waves’ of corruption. It is by no means a coincidence that government corruption was at its highest level every time a pro-Russian politician controlled the mechanisms of government in Ukraine, especially under the leadership of Viktor Yanukovych who basically headed organized crime syndication in Ukraine with the technical assistance from Russian organized crime syndicates. Through the mechanisms or organized crime, government corruption in Ukraine was in fact ‘weaponized’ by Moscow using Viktor Yanukovych’s political influence as the mechanism for self-enrichment. The fact that a person like Viktor Yanukovych who ‘grew up in the streets’ of Donetsk Oblast, with a history of multiple convictions and imprisonment for robbery and assault under Soviet rule, is testimony to the formations of his early life, and how he achieved the ‘impossible’ as a public servant to afford purchasing a residence to the value of US$ 52 million in 2014. Although his total wealth was never disclosed, it is expected to be in the US$ billions mainly derived from illicit activities. The bottom line is that Ukraine government corruption was high, and it did exist, but it was as a result of the influence exercised by the Russian oligarchy through Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian asset embedded within the Ukrainian government for the purpose of meeting Russian strategic objectives willfully while enjoying the financial rewards [illegally] gained during the process.

2014, February 27: (1) Unidentified armed soldiers dressed in green uniforms occupy the Crimean parliament, again raising the flag of the Russian Federation. (2) Village of Chonhar, Kherson Oblast, is occupied by unidentified military personnel and APC’s (Russian) to secure the bridge leading to Crimea by mining the Ukrainian side of the bridge approach. (3) The Crimean government is dissolved, and the Russian politician Sergey Aksyonov is appointed as Prime Minister of Crimea after “consultation” with the President of Ukraine (in exile), Viktor Yanukovych, exploiting a legal loophole as per Crimean Constitutional requirements. (4) Meanwhile in Kyiv, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (a politician, economist, lawyer and pro-European Union activist) assumes the position of Prime Minister post-revolution, leading a post-revolution coalition of opposition parties and independent members to form a new interim government. Immediately after being sworn in as Prime Minister of Ukraine and resuming control over the government while the elected President Viktor Yanukovych was in hiding in Russia, he distanced himself and his government from any further relations with Russia after Russia invaded Crimea in response to President Viktor Yanukovych’s ousting.

2014, February 28: (1) The Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Oleh Makhnitsky, officially requests Russia to extradite President Viktor Yanukovych back to Ukraine to stand trial for the killing of civilian protesters in Kyiv during the Euromaidan uprising. Russia refuses to extradite Yanukovych without providing reasons. (2) The Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), rehabilitates former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and restores her rights to serve in office again. Tymoshenko confirms that she would not be available for re-election again. The Kyivsky District Court also closes the case relating to financial abuse by Tymoshenko’s United Energy Systems of Ukraine.

By January 22, 2015, all criminal cases against Tymoshenko had been closed after an agreement was reached between Tymoshenko and the Ukraine government confirming that all previous criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko were politically motivated. After release from prison, Yulia Tymoshenko remained involved in parliament, and actively worked to enable Ukraine’s accession plan to NATO, and to improve government ties between Ukraine, the European Union and the United States. After the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko has become a major enabler of global support to Ukraine to resist Russian hostilities. With the support of her political party in the Verkhovna Rada, she has also blocked many attempted corrupt activities from happening which would have undermined the Ukrainian war effort during the first months after the invasion. She is now the third most trusted politician in Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and former Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Dmytro Razumkov.

2014, March 05: Former Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko states in a French television interview that he supported the Euromaidan protests against the Yanukovych government. He also opposed the Russian invasion of Crimea, noting that in his view “Putin dreams of reconstructing the Soviet empire under the name of Russia. He is so obsessed with this that he has not understood power balance”. He further stated that Crimea is not Russian, but rather Ukrainian. He also confirmed his support for Vitali Klitshko (former professional boxer and current Mayor of Kyiv) during the 2014 Presidential elections, and described Yulia Tymoshenko as “the candidate for Moscow”.

2014, March 09: Ukrainian-born pro-Russian activist, Pavel Gubarev, an Anti-Maidan activist and a former member of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity paramilitary group from 1999 – 2001, and former member of the left-wing populist Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, proclaims himself the People’s Governor of the Donetsk Region.

2014, March 10: Pavel Gubarev, self-proclaimed Governor of Donetsk region is arrested on charges of separatism and illegal seizure of power.

2014, March 11: Crimean parliament and City Council of Sevastopol adopt a resolution to unilaterally declare themselves an independent Republic with the intention of joining the Russian Federation. Exiled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych addresses the media in Rostov-On-Don calling for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to ignore instructions issued by the transition government in Kyiv.

2014, March 14: A bill is introduced to the Ukraine Parliament to denounce their ratification of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Charter Creation Agreement. The bill was not approved.

2014, March 17: The United States adds President Viktor Yanukovych to its sanctions list for his involvement in the facilitation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, to include various criminal charges involving bribing of businessmen, MP’s, and members of the judiciary to the combined value of around US$ 2 Billion, all being indicated in their involvement in the facilitation of Russia’s interference in Ukraine. The US also adds Viktor Medvedchuk for his role in facilitating the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.

2014, March 18: Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms the finalization of the Russian annexation of Crimea in the Russian Parliament. The United States and its NATO allies sanction Russia.

This event marks the first territorial seizure in Europe by a neighboring country since WW2. This annexation also initiated the first international offensive operation conducted by the Russian Federation which is now the Russo-Ukraine War that commenced on February 24, 2022.

2014, March 21: Ukraine signs the political part of the Association Agreement with the European Union under leadership of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

2014, March 29: Petro Poroshenko confirms his running for President of Ukraine to replace exiled President Viktor Yanukovych. The elections were scheduled for May 25, 2014.

2014, April 02: Petro Poroshenko states during an election rally that if he was elected as President of Ukraine, he would be honest and sell the Roshen concern and his 5 Kanal television station. He also stated that the idea of Ukraine joining NATO was too small to be added to the agenda “so as not to ruin the country”.

To be continued / ...

Last Updated: 07 2300Z March 2023


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