November 21, 2013: In a sudden policy reversal, President Yanukovych announces he will not pursue an Association Agreement with the EU, succumbing to pressure from the Kremlin. Protests break out on the Maidan.
November 30, 2013: The opportunity to sign an EU association agreement passes. The Ukrainian government orders dispersal of protesters on Independence Square in Kyiv. Special police use force, resulting in dozens of wounded and hundreds of arrests. As a reaction to police violence, the protest demographics shift from being mostly student-based to being composed of the general population.
December 1, 2013: Hundreds of thousands of locals take to the streets to protest police violence against students. Protests become anti-government rather than simply pro-EU.
December 10th: Special police forces make their first attempt to storm the Maidan after most protesters leave for the night. Protesters return to the Maidan in the middle of the night and successfully prevent special police forces from taking the encampment.
January 16-20, 2014: Government passes draconian anti-protest laws, violent clashes between special police forces and protesters ensue.
January 21, 2014: First protesters killed by special police forces, dying of gunshot wounds. Bodies of protesters begin to be discovered in suburban forests.
January 23, 2014: Protesters in cities throughout Ukraine begin occupying regional administration buildings, eventually taking 10 of 25 regional centers.
February 19-20, 2014: Over 100 protesters are killed by government snipers, the most violent event in Ukraine since WWII.
February 21, 2014: Ukraine’s government reaches an EU-brokered deal with the opposition, scheduling presidential elections for December and promising a return to the 2004 constitution, taking away certain presidential powers.
February 22, 2014: President Yanukovych flees Kyiv and dozens of his party’s members defect to the opposition. Parliament passes a resolution declaring the absent Yanukovych no longer able to discharge the office of President. Protesters resolve to continue barricading and guarding Maidan at least until the presidential elections in order to put pressure on the interim government.
February 27, 2014: Russian special forces appear in Crimea without insignia and organize “self-defense militias” to take over government buildings and military installations. A new government begins to form in Kyiv.
March 16, 2014: Citing the presence of a large Russophone population, Russia holds a referendum in Crimea to join the Russian Federation. Referendum passes with a supposed 95.5% majority, amidst widespread international condemnation, allegations of voter fraud, and a boycott by the Tatar and Ukrainian populations of Crimea. Ukraine’s Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov declares a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” (ATO) in the Donbas, ordering volunteer battalions from the Maidan and the Ukrainian military to fight separatists in the region.
May 11, 2014: Militants in the Donbas hold a similar referendum to the one in Crimea, declaring the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces of Ukraine independent. The United States and Germany quickly condemn the referendum, calling it illegitimate. Russia does not recognize the legitimacy of this referendum. The Ukrainian ATO continues, and is popularly referred to as the Ukrainian-Russian war due to the evidence of direct Russian involvement.
May 25, 2014: Ukraine holds OSCE-monitored elections, choosing billionaire chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko to be President.
June 8, 2014: A NATO investigation finds evidence of more than 9,000 enlisted Russian soldiers fighting against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas.
July 17, 2014: A surface-to-air missile hits a civilian airliner, Malaysia Airlines flight 17, killing nearly 300 passengers over occupied Donbas. Likely thinking they struck a military plane, separatist militants quickly claimed credit for the attack on social media.
September 5, 2014: Thousands having been killed in the Donbas, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE meet in Minsk, Belarus to agree to a ceasefire. Ukraine agrees to recognize local autonomy, though not independence, of the Donbas, and to eventually hold OSCE-monitored elections in the region. All parties sign the Minsk I Agreement, or “Minsk Protocol,” but fighting in the Donbas continues.
February 11, 2015: Casualties rise to over 5,400, after skirmishes over key transportation hubs like the Donetsk city airport and the railroad junction at Debaltseve. The presidents of Ukraine, Russia, France, the chancellor of Germany, and leaders of the LDNR meet in Minsk for a second round of ceasefire agreements. All parties sign the Minsk II Agreement (“Package of Measures”), but joint Russian-separatist forces continue to attempt to take Debaltseve from the Ukrainian military.
February 18, 2015: Ukrainian forces withdraw from occupied cities, though fighting still continues with separatist advances westward.
Mid-May, 2015: Construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge to connect Russia with Crimea commences.
May 28, 2015: The Atlantic Council releases a report says the number of on-duty Russian soldiers in the Donbas is greater than 10,000.
June 2015: Casualties rise to 6,000. Separatist leaders claim to be arranging local elections, but no commitments are announced.
June 21, 2015: Lithuanian Defense Minister Marius Yanukonis announces that Lithuania is ready to provide lethal aid to Ukraine as “an example to other NATO member states.”
June 28, 2015: Dutch investigators end MH17 investigation due to Russian and separatist obstruction.
July 25, 2015: The U.S. State Department announces that the Pentagon will begin providing training to regular Ukrainian troops by the end of 2015.
Early September, 2015: Ukraine and joint Russian-separatist forces agree to a ceasefire in the negotiations of the Trilateral Contact Group. The casualty rate begins to steadily decrease.
October 13, 2015: The Dutch Safety Board releases MH17 report which finds that a Russian-made Buk missile likely downed MH17.
November 5, 2015: OSCE observes noticeable increases in ceasefire violations around the Donetsk airport.
November 9, 2015: Ukraine sees first the direct engagement with separatist forces in months as separatist forces in the Donetsk region attempt to overtake a military base in the town of Mayorsk.
December 30, 2015: In the face of increased conflict, the deadline for Minsk II implementation is informally extended into 2016.
February 4, 2016: Western reformers begin to leave the Ukrainian government, citing corruption. Lithuanian-born Minister of Trade and Economic Development Aivaras Abromavicius resigns due to interference in his work by Ihor Kononenko, a close ally and business partner of President Poroshenko. Others follow.
February 13, 2016: The OSCE reports at the Munich Security Conference that fighting has intensified in eastern Ukraine, with separatists moving heavy weaponry back to the front line.
February 19, 2016: UNICEF reports that 580,000 children have been “deeply affected” by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
April 1, 2016: The White House announces $335 million in additional security assistance aid for Ukraine.
April 14, 2016: Volodymyr Grosman approved as new Prime Minister, replacing Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
April 28, 2016: UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs raises casualty estimate to 9,333.
June 2, 2016: Ukrainian Parliament passes controversial judicial reforms in the form of constitutional amendments, which were meant to bring the Ukrainian judicial system on a path towards greater transparency and fairness.
June 3, 2016: Ukraine and the U.S. sign a third $1 billion loan guarantee agreement.
July 18, 2016: Trump campaign softens GOP platform language on Ukraine at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland by amending the nature of U.S. aid to Ukraine from “lethal defense weapons” to “appropriate assistance.”
July 27, 2016: Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was sharply critical of the Putin administration, is killed by a car bomb in the center of Kyiv.
September 1, 2016: Separatists agree to a ceasefire in Ukraine for the start of the school year. Ceasefire breaks down within weeks.
September 28, 2016: A Dutch investigation concludes that Malaysian Airline flight 17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile launched from within separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.
October 17, 2016: Russian-born separatist commander Arsen Pavlov, known as “Motorola,” is killed by an IED in Donetsk. He was infamous for the execution of Ukrainian POWs.