Ukraine has seen military and political confrontation since autumn 2013.
The immediate trigger for the conflict was then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s choice to abandon an agreement creating closer ties between the EU and Ukraine, in favour of working closer together with Russia. This triggered protests, coming to be known as the Euromaidan movement, which culminated in Yanukovych’s removal from power in February 2014.
This sparked political agitation and counter-revolutionary movements in the semi-autonomous region of Crimea and in Ukraine’s Eastern provinces. A disputed referendum in Crimea in March led to its annexation by Russia in March 2014, prompting widespread international condemnation. Fighting between the National Army and armed groups supported by Russian forces in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas of Eastern Ukraine, known as the Donbass, has since led to more than 10,000 deaths. more than 23,500 people injured and 1.6 million being displaced.
Talks to with conflicting parties put a hold on the conflict resulted in the so-called Minsk Agreement in February 2015. However, this agreement and subsequent efforts to end the crisis have ended in failure. The ceasefire has been repeatedly broken, and armed violence continues to create an enduring sense of “non-peace.”
Deadly clashes have been a daily occurrence since 2014. Violence in 2017 has so far resulted in more than 200 deaths, with both sides accusing the other of using indiscriminate weapons. The humanitarian situation was labelled particularly dire in the border town of Avdiivka and other cities along the “contact line” (buffer zone between the Government and Non-Government Controlled Areas), where thousands of civilians were left with no heat or water for several days in the dead of winter.
A new ceasefire took effect at midnight on 25 August 2017. Daily violations of the cease-fire, routine use of heavy weapons in breach of the withdrawal lines, and indiscriminative shelling have continued to take heavy toll on the civilian lives and property.