Ukraine crisis: Timeline

Ivan Saenko, 89, in Ilovaisk, a city that has seen massive destruction and heavy casualties (3 Sept) The conflict has raged in parts of eastern Ukraine since April, leaving thousands dead and wounded

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

The pro-Russian rebellion began in Donetsk and Luhansk in April, inspired by Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea weeks before.

The separatists in the predominantly Russian-speaking east were enraged by the overthrow of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine after weeks of protests against his decision not to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union.

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

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September 2014

Watch: Timeline summary of the Ukraine conflict

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. Correspondents say this matches claims that MH17 was hit by missile shrapnel. The 5 September ceasefire is largely holding, but the EU formally adopts new sanctions on Russia, with no word on when they will be put in place.

8 September: Shelling near Donetsk airport raises fears that the ceasefire may collapse.

5 September: Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels in the east sign a truce deal to end almost five months of fighting.

4 September: Nato, at its summit in Wales, says it "stands with Ukraine" in the face of Russia's "destabilising" influence.

3 September: Russian President Vladimir Putin sees a peace deal between Ukraine and the rebels by 5 September, after talking to President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine by phone. US President Barack Obama visits Estonia to reassure the Baltic states of Nato support. Under pressure from Nato allies, France says conditions are "not right" for delivery of the first of two Mistral navy assault ships to Russia.

2 September: Russia is to alter its military strategy as a result of the Ukraine crisis and Nato's presence in eastern Europe, a top Russian official says. The newly designated EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, says Nato countries bordering Russia need more than a paper pledge that Nato will help them in a crisis.

1 September: Ukraine says 700 of its men have been taken prisoner as pro-Russian rebels advance in the east. Government forces retreat from Luhansk airport. Nato announces plans for a rapid response force to protect Eastern European members against possible Russian aggression.

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August 2014
Smoke rises during shelling in the town of Novoazovsk (27 August 2014) Rebels seized Novoazovsk and surrounding villages, and threatened to attack the port city of Mariupol

31 August: Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for talks to discuss "statehood" for eastern Ukraine. Ten Russian paratroopers captured inside Ukraine are exchanged for 63 captured Ukrainian soldiers. The EU gives Russia one week to reverse course in Ukraine or face new sanctions.

29 August: The crisis in eastern Ukraine is "slipping out of control" and needs to be reined in to avoid direct military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, Germany warns.

27-28 August: Rebels open up a new front, capturing the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov, a few miles inside the Russian border. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accuses Russia of moving troops into Ukraine. Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko says there are 3-4,000 Russian civilians in their ranks, including many soldiers on leave.

26 August: Ukraine releases videos of captured Russian paratroopers, two days after rebels parade captive Ukrainian soldiers through the streets of Donetsk. Russia says the paratroopers crossed the border by accident. Meanwhile, some 100 wounded Russian servicemen are reportedly airlifted to hospital in St Petersburg. President Vladimir Putin meets Mr Poroshenko in Belarus, in their first direct talks since early June.

22 August: A convoy of more than 100 Russian lorries enters Ukraine without permission, carrying what Russia says is humanitarian aid for the besieged city of Luhansk.

18 August: A convoy of refugees from the Luhansk area is hit by rockets leaving women and children dead. Rebels deny carrying out the attack.

6 August: Russian President Vladimir Putin hits back against Western sanctions, with a "full embargo" on fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports.

5 August: As heavy fighting erupts in Donetsk city, the UN says more than 1,000 civilians are fleeing the conflict zone every day.

3 August: Ukrainian forces have virtually surrounded the city of Luhansk. The city's supplies of power and water supplies run low and communications are down.

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July 2014

30 July: The EU and US announce new sanctions against Russia with focus on oil sector, defence equipment and sensitive technologies.

21-23 July: The first remains of victims of the MH17 disaster are moved by train to Kharkiv. Two days later two planes carrying bodies arrives in the Netherlands.

Rebel at crash site near Grabove (17 July 2014) 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 close to the border with Russia. A total of 298 people are killed including 80 children. Western nations said the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied SA-11 missile fired by rebels.

Residents in the Luhansk region inspect the wreckage of Ukraine's An-26 transport aircraft (14 July 2014) Ukrainian officials claimed the missile that brought down the An-26 probably came from Russia

14 July: A Ukrainian An-26 military transport aircraft is shot down close to the Russian border at a height of 6,500m (21,325ft), with Ukrainian officials alleging it was a Russian missile.

11-12 July: A rebel rocket attack on a village near Russian border in Luhansk region leaves at least 20 soldiers dead. As Ukrainian troops close in on Donetsk, rocket fire kills four civilians.

The Ukrainian army in Sloviansk (8 July 2014) 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.

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June 2014

27 June: The EU signs an association agreement with Ukraine in what President Petro Poroshenko describes as the most important day in the country's history since independence in 1991.

25 June: Russia's parliament cancels a parliamentary resolution authorising the use of Russian forces in Ukraine. EU leaders welcome the move but warn of more sanctions.

23 June: Rebels agree to observe the ceasefire proposed by the government until 27 June but ceasefire falls apart a week later.

20 June: President Poroshenko declares a week-long truce.

Daniel Sandford visited Luhansk and witnessed the toll the conflict has inflicted

14 June: A violent protest outside the Russian embassy in Ukraine leads to windows being smashed and cars being overturned. Pro-Russia separatists shoot down a military plane in the east, killing 49 people.

13 June: Government troops win back the port city of Mariupol after heavy fighting.

12 June: Ukraine says three Russian tanks have entered rebel areas in the east. Russia denies the allegations.

10 June: Petro Poroshenko, sworn in on 7 June, orders the creation of humanitarian corridors so civilians can flee areas of east Ukraine hit by conflict.

The Russian and Ukrainian leaders met as fighting continued in east Ukraine

6 June: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko meet in France and call for a quick end to the bloodshed.

4 June: Separatist rebels take two Ukrainian military bases in the eastern region of Luhansk.

Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko and US President Barack Obama in Warsaw, 4 June 2014. Mr Obama described Mr Poroshenko in early June as a "wise selection" for leader of Ukraine

3 June: Nato pledges to bolster its defence capabilities in response to Russian actions in Ukraine.

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May 2014

29 May: Pro-Russian rebels shoot down a military helicopter near Sloviansk, killing 14 people including a general.

Amateur footage posted online appears to show the aftermath of the helicopter being downed, as the BBC's Mark Lowen reports

26-27 May: Ukrainian army launches "anti-terrorist operation" to oust separatists occupying Donetsk airport. Combat jets, helicopters and airborne troops deployed and at least 40 separatists killed.

25 May: Ukraine holds presidential election but most polling stations in east remain closed. President-elect Petro Poroshenko vows to bring "peace to a united and free Ukraine".

Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko. 26 May 2014 Petro Poroshenko won 54.7% of the vote, enough to avoid a second round

22 May: Rebel attack on checkpoint in Volnovakha, east Ukraine, leaves 14 soldiers dead.

19 May: Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he has ordered troops near Ukraine's border to withdraw, but Nato says there is no sign they have pulled back.

11 May: Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk declare independence after referendums which were not recognised by Kiev or the West.

7 May: In an apparent shift in Russian policy, President Putin calls for referendums in eastern Ukraine to be postponed to encourage dialogue. He also describes Ukraine's presidential elections scheduled for 25 May as a move "in the right direction".

4 May: Pro-Russian protesters attack the police headquarters in Odessa, prompting police to release dozens of people arrested over the earlier unrest.

2 May: Clashes in the Black Sea city of Odessa leave at least 42 people dead, most of them pro-Russian activists killed when a building they had barricaded themselves inside caught fire.

Aftermath of fire at trade union building in Odessa (2 May 2014) Nearly 40 people died inside the trade union building when a fire broke out during protests

1 May: Acting President Olexander Turchynov reinstates conscription, warning Ukraine is on "full combat alert". Pro-Russians take over the regional prosecutor's office in eastern Donetsk.

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April 2014

22 April: Ukraine's acting president orders the relaunch of military operations against pro-Russian militants in the east after two men, one a local politician, are found "tortured to death" in Donetsk region.

Politician Vladimir Rybak disappeared after being filmed trying to gain access to a building seized by pro-Russian activists, as Daniel Sandford reports from Donetsk

20-21 April: The shooting of three people manning a pro-Russian checkpoint near Sloviansk outrages Russia, which blames it on Ukrainian nationalists.

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.

16 April: The "anti-terrorist" operation quickly stalls: pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine seize six armoured vehicles in the town of Kramatorsk.

Footage 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.

12 April: In eastern Ukraine, occupations of official buildings by pro-Russian protesters and militants multiply.

11 April: Ukraine's Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk offers to devolve more powers to the eastern regions, as pro-Russia occupations in Donetsk and Luhansk continue.

Pro-Russian activists rally at a barricade outside the regional state administration in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, 11 April 2014 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.

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March 2014

28 March: Amid signs of a big build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine's eastern border, 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.

1 March: Russia's parliament approves President Vladimir Putin's request to use force in Ukraine to protect Russian interests. Pro-Russian rallies are held in several Ukrainian cities outside Crimea.

Unidentified gunmen near Sevastopol's airport, Crimea, 28 February Unidentified gunmen near Sevastopol's airport in Crimea on 28 February
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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. At his first news conference since fleeing to Russia, Mr Yanukovych insists he remains president.

Key moments from Viktor Yanukovych's news conference

The BBC's Mark Lowen reports on the armed stand-off in Simferopol

23-26 February: 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.

The 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

Former 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.

President Yanukovych (C) signed a 21 February deal with opposition leaders that soon became redundant President Yanukovych (C) signed a 21 February deal with opposition leaders that soon became redundant
Protesters take up new positions in Kiev, 20 February 2014 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.

BBC 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, including seven police officers, and hundreds more wounded. Some 25,000 protesters are encircled in Independence Square.

The 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.

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January 2014
Riot police and protesters face off in Independence Square 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 promising to drop charges against all those arrested in unrest if protesters leave government buildings. Opposition rejects conditions.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford: "This central Kiev square is like a vision of hell"

16-23 January: Parliament passes restrictive anti-protest laws, Days later two people die of gunshot wounds as clashes turn deadly for first time. Third death reported as the body of high-profile activist Yuriy Verbytsky is found. Protesters begin storming regional government offices in western Ukraine.

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December 2013
President Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin 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.

Demonstrators on Independence Square 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, turning it into a tent city. Biggest demonstration yet sees 800,000 people attend demonstration in Kiev.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg describes the storming of Kiev's city hall

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November 2013

Late November: Protests gather pace, as 100,000 people attend a demonstration in Kiev, the largest in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution. Police launch first raid on protesters, arresting 35.

David 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. Ukrainian MPs also reject a bill to allow Yulia Tymoshenko to leave the country. Small protests start and comparisons with the Orange Revolution begin.

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2010

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.

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2004
Opposition leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko led the 2004 mass protests 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.

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1991

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

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