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A year of crisis in Ukraine

AFP , Friday 20 Feb 2015

Ukraine's worst political crisis since its independence in 1991 has witnessed a full year of bloody turmoil.

Here are key dates of a conflict that has already seen Russia seize a chunk of its western neighbour's territory and sparked the worst standoff in East-West relations since the Cold War:

-- 2013 --

November 21: Ukraine's Kremlin-backed government suspends talks on an association agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

The decision triggers three months of demonstrations in Kiev's central Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and western Ukrainian cities where pro-European sentiment runs strong.

-- 2014 --

January 21-22: Fierce clashes between security forces and demonstrators leave several protesters dead.

February 18-20: Bloodshed erupts, with a failed crackdown by authorities on the protests killing over 100 people.

February 22: President Viktor Yanukovych, accused of ordering the police to open fire on civilians, flees to Russia and is ousted by parliament.

March 1: Russian troops and pro-Moscow forces begin seizing ports and cities in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

March 16: Crimean residents, mostly Russian speakers, vote to join Russia in a referendum that Kiev and the West do not recognise.

March 20: Russia's parliament ratifies a treaty incorporating Crimea into Russia. President Vladimir Putin then seals the deal.

April 6: Pro-Moscow demonstrators seize government buildings in towns and cities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, including Donetsk and Lugansk.

April 13: Kiev announces the launch of an "anti-terrorist" operation in the east.

May 11: Voters call for independence in referendums in Lugansk and Donetsk, rejected as illegitimate by Kiev and the West.

May 25: Ukraine's presidential election is won by Petro Poroshenko.

June 27: The EU and Ukraine sign the association agreement whose rejection had sparked the initial unrest.

July 17: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over rebel-held territory, killing 298 people.

July 29: The EU and the United States broaden sanctions on Russia, which later bans most US and EU food imports.

August 25: Rebels mount a counter-offensive in the southeast, reportedly backed by Russian troops and heavy weapons.

September 5: Ceasefire signed in Minsk but violence continues.

October 26: Pro-West parties win big in a general election boycotted in the east.

October 30: In Brussels, Russia and Ukraine forge a gas supply agreement after fraught negotiations.

November 2: Separatists in eastern Ukraine vote in Russian-backed leadership elections that Kiev and the West refuse to recognise.

November 12: NATO accuses Russia of sending fresh columns of tanks, troops and military hardware into Ukraine.

January 22: Donetsk airport falls to rebels after months of intense fighting.

February 12: The rival sides agree a peace roadmap during marathon talks in Minsk, backed by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

The IMF and Ukraine agree a $17.5 billion financial deal for Kiev, bringing total international assistance over four years to $40 billion.

February 15: The ceasefire comes into force but both sides trade accusations of breaches.

February 16: The EU ratchets up sanctions on Russia and Ukrainian separatist figures.

February 17: Fierce street battles break out in the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve between Donetsk and Lugansk, where government forces are surrounded by rebels.

February 18: Government forces withdraw from Debaltseve.

February 19: The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France hold talks to try to salvage the tattered ceasefire.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.