From the Founding of a Republic to Independence Recognition: Key Points in the Donbass Conflict
22:41 GMT 21.02.2022 (Updated: 20:59 GMT 19.10.2022)
© Sputnik / Sergey AverinDonbass
© Sputnik / Sergey Averin/
Begun in 2014 amid a refusal by residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine to recognise a new government in the country that came to power in the wake of the Euromaidan coup, the conflict in Donbass witnessed a serious escalation in February 2022.
Ukraine's Donbass region during the past few days has been the site of an ongoing armed conflict, with its roots in the 2014 Euromaidan coup in Kiev. Russia in February 2022 recognised the independence of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.
While the new government in Ukraine was swiftly recognised by Western powers, many residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country did not appear to be keen to follow suit.
Tensions with Kiev led to the creation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, DPR and LPR, respectively.
Amid clashes between DPR and LPR supporters and Ukrainian government forces, the two self-proclaimed republics held referendums on self-determination on 11 May 2014, proclaiming their independence the following day.
In response, Kiev deployed additional armed forces under the auspices of a so-called "Anti-Terrorist Operation" in an attempt to bring these breakaway regions to heel, and began using heavy weapons and military aircraft in a rapidly-escalating conflict.
Kiev's attempt to crush the DPR and LPR militias through force of arms proved unsuccessful, as, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, these groups offered stiff resistance to the Ukrainian military and paramilitary groups deployed against them.
The Minsk Protocol, signed in the capital of Belarus by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine (Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and by the heads of the DPR and LPR, was aimed at implementing a ceasefire but failed to stop the fighting in the region.
After weeks of fighting, a comprehensive ceasefire and peace agreement was signed in Minsk by Ukraine and three guarantor nations: Russia, Germany, and France. This agreement, often referred to as the Second Minsk Agreement, halted the fighting in Donbass, but did not resolve the disagreements, turning it instead into a frozen conflict.
Currently, Kiev has refused to fulfill the political portion of the agreement, and initiate constitutional reforms to grant the self-proclaimed republics broader autonomy in exchange for their return to Ukrainian jurisdiction.
Throughout the conflict, the Ukrainian government has repeatedly accused Russia of providing military assistance to DPR and LPR militia forces, and even directly participating in the conflict. Moscow has consistently denied the accusations, and Kiev has not been able to provide tangible evidence to back up its claims.
Russia, however, has never concealed that it provides humanitarian aid to DPR and LPR, which Moscow previously regarded as part of Ukraine, not as independent entities.
Until the most recent escalation, the situation in Donbass has remained in limbo, as sporadic exchanges of small arms fire between the sides and reports of shelling become a common occurrence.
On 17 February 2022, however, Ukrainian forces intensified the shelling of the DPR and LPR territories, hitting civilian targets and prompting local authorities to initiate a mass temporary evacuation of women and children to Russia.
Thousands of civilians, most of them children, have since entered Russia in search of safety, while able-bodied men have been urged by DPR and LPR authorities to take up arms and defend the republics against what is feared to be an impending offensive by Kiev's military forces.
Recent reports indicate that Kiev is employing agents recruited within the self-proclaimed republics to facilitate terrorist attacks in the region.
As the situation in the region continues to deteriorate, authorities in the DPR and LPR have formally requested Russia recognise their independence, and Moscow has obliged their request.