Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine followed nearly a decade of formal war between the two states. The February 2014 Ukrainian ‘Revolution for Dignity’ came just prior. The last eight years have focused mostly on the Crimea and Donbas regions. In his address to the citizens of both countries, given at the outset of the recent invasion, and entitled ‘On Conducting a Special Military Operation,’ Putin described his move as one to “demilitarise and denazify” Ukraine.
For historical context, verbal promises were made multiple times to Gorbachev by US Secretary of State James Baker in the early 1990s that NATO would not move “one inch” closer to Soviet borders if the USSR agreed to take down the Berlin Wall and allow East and West Germany to unite. Since that time NATO has pushed eastward, closer to Russian borders 12 times, and announced a desire to add Ukraine, which would be the largest of the countries, occupying the longest common border with Russia. Putin has made it clear that NATO forces (especially missiles) on Ukraine’s eastern border would be considered by Russia as a provocation which amounted to an existential threat to Russia.
When the ‘Maidan Coup’ occurred in 2014, with US State Department and clandestine services assistance to the rebels, one of the first acts of the new parliament was to outlaw the Russian language, spoken at home by the majority of people, whether Russian ethnic or otherwise, in the areas of Ukraine that have been in Russia’s crosshairs since Feb. 24 of this year. When the Russian language was outlawed, regions in a large area of Ukraine’s border with Russia declared an intent to secede. In 2015, after a series of negotiations involving The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Minsk Agreement was signed by OSCE, Ukraine and Russia. The agreement called for the Ukraine Parliament to pass legislation granting autonomy for the two secessionist regions in Donbas, with minimal limitations under Ukraine law.
Nationalist groups operating under the Ukraine Interior Ministry (using NAZI insignia and nomenclature) almost immediately started bombarding the two breakaway regions, and continued through Feb. 24 of this year. According to local sources, 14,000 civilians were killed in the Donbas in the previous 8 years. The Parliament never passed the agreed terms for Donbas’ autonomy.
BTW, only after many entreaties and a formal vote in the Russian Duma in February, 2022 favoring the step did Putin formally recognize the breakaway regions, self-designated as ‘The Independent Republic of Donetsk’ and ‘The Independent Republic of Luhansk’.
Contribution from LSJohn