Ukraine crisis: Timeline

Pro-Russian gunmen in Donetsk, 13 November Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pro-Russian gunmen in Donetsk, 13 November

For months, pro-Russian separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in two eastern regions of Ukraine but a fragile ceasefire has been agreed by both sides.

Here is a timeline of events in the most dangerous conflict to grip Europe since the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

November 2014

12 November: Nato commander Gen Philip Breedlove says Russian military equipment and Russian combat troops have been seen entering Ukraine in columns over several days.

Will Ukraine return to war?

11 November: Dutch efforts to salvage wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines crash site stall over disagreements with local rebel groups.

MH17 Dutch memorial day: Air disaster that touched a nation

2-3 November: Separatists in eastern Ukraine elect new leaders in polls backed by Russia and denounced by the West. President Poroshenko accuses the rebels of jeopardising "the entire peace process" and says Ukrainian forces should prepare defences against separatist attack.

Summary justice in Ukraine's rebel east

October 2014

31 October: Russia agrees to resume gas supplies to Ukraine over the winter in a deal brokered by the EU.

Russia's gas fight with Ukraine

26 October: Pro-Western parties win Ukraine's parliamentary elections.

Ukraine ready to trash politicians

21 October: Human Rights Watch says it has strong evidence Ukraine attacked populated areas of Donetsk with cluster bombs, banned by many other states.

12 October: President Putin orders thousands of troops stationed near the Ukrainian border to return to their bases.

September 2014

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch: Timeline summary of the Ukraine conflict

24 September: Nato reports a "significant" withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine.

9 September: Dutch experts find that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by "objects" that "pierced the plane at high velocity" in July.

5 September: Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels sign a truce in Minsk.

1 September: Ukraine says 700 of its men have been taken prisoner as pro-Russian rebels advance in the east.

August 2014

Image copyright AP
Image caption Rebels seized Novoazovsk and surrounding villages, and threatened to attack the port city of Mariupol

27-28 August: Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko says there are 3-4,000 Russian civilians in rebel ranks as the separatists open up a front on the Sea of Azov and capture Novoazovsk.

26 August: Ukraine releases videos of captured Russian paratroopers. They are later exchanged for Ukrainian soldiers.

22 August: A huge Russian convoy delivers humanitarian aid to the government-besieged city of Luhansk without Ukrainian permission.

July 2014

30 July: The EU and US announce new sanctions against Russia.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The downing of MH17 caused outrage in the countries affected by the disaster, particularly the Netherlands

17 July: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam is shot down near the village of Grabove in rebel-held territory, with the loss of 298 lives.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Ukrainian army's capture of Sloviansk was seen as the "start of a turning point" by President Poroshenko

5 July: Rebels abandon their command centre at Sloviansk in the face of a government offensive.

June 2014

27 June: The EU signs a landmark association agreement with Ukraine.

25 June: Russia's parliament cancels a parliamentary resolution authorising the use of Russian forces in Ukraine.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDaniel Sandford visited Luhansk and witnessed the toll the conflict has inflicted

14 June: Pro-Russia separatists shoot down a military plane in the east, killing 49 people.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe Russian and Ukrainian leaders met as fighting continued in east Ukraine
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Obama described Mr Poroshenko in early June as a "wise selection" for leader of Ukraine

May 2014

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAmateur footage posted online appears to show the aftermath of the helicopter being downed, as the BBC's Mark Lowen reports

25 May: Ukraine elects Petro Poroshenko as president in an election not held in much of the east.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Petro Poroshenko won 54.7% of the vote, enough to avoid a second round

11 May: Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk declare independence after unrecognised referendums.

2 May: Clashes in the Black Sea city of Odessa, leave 42 people dead, most of them pro-Russian activists. Most die when they are trapped in a burning building.

How did Odessa's fire happen?

Image copyright AP
Image caption Nearly 40 people died inside the trade union building when a fire broke out during protests

April 2014

22 April: Ukraine's acting president orders the relaunch of military operations against pro-Russian militants in the east.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPolitician Vladimir Rybak disappeared after being filmed trying to gain access to a building seized by pro-Russian activists, as Daniel Sandford reports from Donetsk

17 April: Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU say they have agreed at talks in Geneva on steps to "de-escalate" the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Three people are killed when Ukrainian security forces fend off a raid on a base in Mariupol - the first violent deaths in the east.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFootage posted on YouTube appears to show the moment a police station in Sloviansk was seized

15 April: Ukraine's acting President, Olexander Turchynov, announces the start of an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Russian separatists. It quickly stalls.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pro-Russia activists barricaded the regional state administration in the eastern city of Donetsk

7 April: Protesters occupy government buildings in the east Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, calling for a referendum on independence. Ukrainian authorities regain control of Kharkiv government buildings the next day.

March 2014

28 March: US President Barack Obama urges Moscow to "move back its troops" and lower tensions.

18 March: President Putin signs a bill to absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation.

17 March: The EU and US impose travel bans and asset freezes on several officials from Russia and Ukraine over the Crimea referendum.

16 March: Crimea's secession referendum on joining Russia is backed by 97% of voters, organisers say, but vote condemned by West as a sham.

Fear and unease in Novo-Ozyorne

1 March: Russia's parliament approves President Vladimir Putin's request to use force in Ukraine to protect Russian interests.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Unidentified gunmen near Sevastopol's airport in Crimea on 28 February

February 2014

27-28 February: Pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Unidentified gunmen in combat uniforms appear outside Crimea's main airports.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Mark Lowen reports on the armed stand-off in Simferopol

23-26 February:

  • Parliament votes to ban Russian as the second official language, causing a wave of anger in Russian-speaking regions; the vote is later overturned
  • Parliament names speaker Olexander Turchynov as interim president
  • An arrest warrant is issued for Mr Yanukovych
  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk is nominated prime minister.
  • The elite Berkut police unit, blamed for deaths of protesters, is disbanded
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Gavin Hewitt reports on the presentation of the interim government

22 February:

  • President Yanukovych disappears
  • Protesters take control of presidential administration buildings
  • Parliament votes to remove president from power with elections set for 25 May
  • Mr Yanukovych appears on TV to denounce "coup"
  • His arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko is freed from jail
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFormer PM Yulia Tymoshenko made an emotional speech to protesters at Kiev's Independence Square, as Gavin Hewitt reports

21 February: President Yanukovych signs compromise deal with opposition leaders.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Yanukovych (C) signed a 21 February deal with opposition leaders that soon became redundant
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Independence Square resembled a battlefield after the 20 February clashes

20 February: Kiev sees its worst day of violence for almost 70 years. At least 88 people are killed in 48 hours. Video shows uniformed snipers firing at protesters holding makeshift shields.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBBC footage 20 February, Kiev's bloodiest day for decades

Images of Independence Square, before and after the clashes

18 February: Clashes erupt, with reasons unclear: 18 dead.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Daniel Sandford witnesses Ukraine's "descent into insanity"

14-16 February: All 234 protesters arrested since December are released. Kiev city hall, occupied since 1 December, is abandoned by demonstrators, along with other public buildings in regions.

January 2014

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Riot police and protesters face off in Independence Square

28-29 January: Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigns and parliament annuls the anti-protest law. Parliament passes amnesty bill but opposition rejects conditions.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Daniel Sandford: "This central Kiev square is like a vision of hell"

16-23 January: Parliament passes restrictive anti-protest laws as clashes turn deadly. Protesters begin storming regional government offices in western Ukraine.

December 2013

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Viktor Yanukovych signed $15bn Russian deal with President Putin in Moscow

17 December: Vladimir Putin throws President Yanukovych an economic lifeline, agreeing to buy $15bn of Ukrainian debt and reduce the price of Russian gas supplies by about a third.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The biggest protest so far took place in Kiev on 8 December

Early December: Protesters occupy Kiev city hall and Independence Square in dramatic style. Some 800,000 people rally in Kiev.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Steve Rosenberg describes the storming of Kiev's city hall

November 2013

Late November: Protests gather pace, as 100,000 people attend a demonstration in Kiev.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDavid Stern describes the first raid by police on protesters on 30 November

21 November: President Yanukovych's cabinet abandons an agreement on closer trade ties with EU, instead seeking closer co-operation with Russia. Small protests start.


February: Viktor Yanukovych is declared the winner in a presidential election judged free and fair by observers. His main rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, is arrested for abuse of powers and eventually jailed in October 2011.


Image copyright AFP
Image caption Opposition leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko led the 2004 mass protests

December: Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko tops poll in election re-run. Rival candidate Viktor Yanukovych challenges result but resigns as prime minister.

November: Orange Revolution begins after reports of widespread vote-rigging in presidential election nominally won by pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych. Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko leads mass street protests and civil disobedience. Supreme Court annuls result of poll.


August: Ukrainian parliament declares independence from USSR following attempted coup in Moscow. In a nationwide referendum in December, 90% vote for independence.