More than a hundred days have passed since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the Russian-Ukrainian war has been going on for eight years. However, by analyzing Russia's attacks on Ukraine, we can delve into age-long history.
Youth online media Svidomi in cooperation with the global OSINT community Molfar tells about the main milestones of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which began in 2014. Read in the carousel post.
Putin had been planning a war for a long time
In February 2007, at the Munich Security Conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech complaining that the global geopolitical system was "unipolar" and that military forces were accumulating near the borders of the Russian Federation. This speech is considered turning point in the geopolitical relations between Russia and the West, which ends the peaceful period following the end of the Cold War.
Ideological preparation for war took a long time
The concept of a “Russian World” (Russkiy Mir) appeared in the mid-2000s. Its popularization is attributed to the then-First Deputy Chief of Putin's administration, Vladislav Surkov. The ideology is based on the idea of the unity of "Russian culture" around Moscow and uses history, culture and religion as tools of Russian power.
In 2013, Putin appointed Surkov as his Aide in the Presidential Executive Office focused on Russian aggrandizement in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In February 2014, it turned out that on an informal basis, he also serves as a special representative in Ukraine. At the end of 2014, Surkov's colleague, Borys Rapoport, said that their unit had been designing the "New Russia" quasi-state in the south-eastern part of Ukraine.
In 2021, Surkov added that the "Russian World" is more than Russia; it is a divided nation whose influence extends beyond Russia's borders," and its sphere of influence includes "places where they respect Putin and Russian culture, hope for help from the RF and are afraid of Russian weapons." This rhetoric resonates with Putin's 2016 statement that "Russia's borders do not end anywhere."
The Revolution of Dignity and annexation of Crimea
In November 2013, the Revolution of Dignity began in Ukraine. On February 4, 2014, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea initiated amendments to the Constitution to appeal to the Russian Federation to protect against the possible elimination of the autonomous status of Crimea.
On February 22, Viktor Yanukovych secretly fled to Russia and was removed from the presidency. On February 23, pro-Russian protests with separatist appeals were organized in Crimea, and Russian citizen Alexei Chaly was proclaimed Mayor of Sevastopol. On March 16, under pressure from armed Russians, a so-called "referendum" was held on the status of Crimea's autonomy.
Sergey Aksyonov of the “Russian Unity” party, who formally called on Putin on March 1 to send Russian troops into Crimea, was illegally appointed Crimea's "prime minister," which was approved by the State Duma on March 1. No more than 15-20% of citizens voted for joining.
The medals received by the Russian military for participating in the operation date from March 20, when Yanukovych was still incumbent and the production of the awards itself was probably ordered in December 2013. In 2016, a senior Putin advisor with direct responsibility for Russia’s Ukraine policy Vladislav Surkov received an order for the protection of "constitutional rights and freedoms" of the Crimean people.
Destabilization and hostilities in Eastern Ukraine
In March, during an operation to seize Crimea, pro-Russian actions took place in the eastern cities of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation mobilized units of the regular army to the borders of Ukraine.
April 6, 2014 - armed groups seized government buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv.
April 7 – they proclaimed (1, 2) the creation of "people's republics" in the regions, and the so-called "DNR" (Donetsk People’s Republic) called on Russia to introduce troops.
April 27 – they proclaimed the so-called "LNR" (Luhansk People’s Republic).
May 11 – they held illegal "referendums" on the independence of the "L/DNR", which the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine recognized as terrorist organizations.
November 2014 - elections in the "L/DNR". There were no international observers, and the OSCE declined the invitation, saying "the forthcoming elections cannot be called legitimate because they will be held under the barrels of armed people whom no one has elected." Donetsk businessman Oleksandr Zakharchenko, who had headed the Donetsk branch of anti-Maidan organization OPLOT since 2013 (it is accused of attacking activists during the Euromaidan), was proclaimed the head of the DNR. Igor Plotnitsky, a former major of the USSR army and a local collaborating businessman, was proclaimed the head of the LNR.
Evidence of Russia's participation in the war
Contractor servicemen and conscripts were encouraged to take part in hostilities in Ukraine with an increase in wages. In case of refusal, they were threatened with dismissal and criminal proceedings for non-compliance with orders. At the same time, the de facto military could not be prosecuted, because by law they could not serve outside the Russian Federation. To circumvent legal precedents, the servicemen severed contracts with their units before going to Ukraine and signed agreements with private military companies or other fictitious organizations.
In August 2014, when there was a risk of encirclement of Donetsk and Luhansk, and eventually - the defeat of Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics’ troops, the military units of the Russian Federation entered Ukrainian territory in full. As of August 2014, there were about 3.5-6.5 thousand Russian servicemen on the territory of Ukraine. In December 2014, their number reached about 10 thousand and 9 thousand - in February 2015, taking into account the rotation there were 26-28 thousand When the Minsk Agreements were signed and the ceasefire regime was approved in February 2015, the Russian Federation troops withdrew from the front line and performed the functions of training of combatants of the Illegally Armed Groups and logistical support, as well as the firing of long-range artillery. According to high-ranking NATO officials, Russia has transferred about a thousand units of heavy equipment to the territory not controlled by Ukraine, and 250-300 Russian instructors were in charge of the training process.
In private conversations, the militants admitted that they were receiving weapons from Russia, and the most difficult battles, in particular for Debaltseve and Ilovaisk, could not be won without the participation of Russian troops.
Also during the hostilities in 2014-2015, mass graves of military units appeared in Russia. Alexander Osipov and Leonid Kichatkin, the 76th Airborne Division, were among the first confirmed dead of the Russian military. In 2015, Russia's Novaya Gazeta published an interview with the Russian military, who said he had taken part in the fighting near Debaltseve, and that his unit consisted of current Russian Armed Forces contractors. Based on data from open sources, investigations were conducted that proved the participation of the 136th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, the 6th Panzer Brigade (1, 2), the 16th Special Forces Brigade and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade, whose military actively covered their stay in Ukraine on social networks.
On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down over the Donetsk region; 298 people died in the disaster. According to the results of the investigation, the aeroplane was hit by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system, which was brought to Ukraine from the territory of Russia and belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian Armed Forces. At the time of the SAM fire, he was in territory not controlled by Ukraine. The analysis established that the beech was transported by Sergei Dubinsky, a colonel of the GRU of the Russian Federation, who at that time was subordinated to Igor Girkin / Strelkov (Colonel of the FSB of the Russian Federation).
According to the Conflict Armament Research on weapons used during the war in eastern Ukraine, some of the supplies were made after the collapse of the Soviet Union and were not imported into Ukraine.
Russian Orlan-10 and Forpost drones were used by the Illegal Armed Groups in eastern Ukraine. One of the Orlan-10s was made in Russia in January 2014, and the Forpost shot down in 2015 was made in 2013 at the Ural Civil Aviation Plant.
Isolation is a centre for torturing people
Until 2014, there was a Cultural Center “Isolation” operating in Donetsk, where artists held cultural events and organized exhibitions. After the occupation, Russia turned the centre into a prison, where torture is considered the norm.
The hostages who managed to escape say that the conditions are not suitable for detention, and guards are constantly torturing and even killing hostages. "Isolation" is equated to a concentration camp. People are subjected to torture, including electric torture, imitation of execution or rape. Journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who was held hostage on the Territory of “Isolation”, claims that Russia's crimes in the centre can be regarded as military ones.
The shelling of Donetsk
According to Russian media, on March 25, 2022, the air defence shot down a missile in the centre of Donetsk. On the same day, the media began publishing information about the alleged obtaining a laptop of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The proof is the photo of the monitor screen with a presentation and plans of explosions in Ukrainian, but using the Russian letter "E" (yo). Also, analyzing the behaviour of people in the video, the sound of air defence was absent - passers-by reacted at the time of the fall of the cluster. The impact marks on the asphalt at the site of the fall, as well as significant damage to the missile body are not visible.
In addition to misinformation about the shelling of the city by Ukraine, the motive for the strike could be a planned rally of women against the forcible mobilization of men in the so-called "DNR". There are also questions about the video of the flight and detonation of the projectile: shooting begins before the explosion (with static shots of the monument, street and alley), and the operator holds the video camera on a tripod.
At the same time, Russia constantly accuses Ukraine of shelling the temporarily occupied territories of the east. However, Svidomi and the OSINT community Molfar did not find any evidence, and the reaction of people to the recent shelling of Donetsk from Russia shows that people are not used to shelling or explosions.
Ukraine is neither Russia's first nor last victim
Putin likes to attribute to Russia all achievements of the USSR. And he is right: the most barbaric and bloody wars in continental Europe were fought by the USSR and Putin.
Finland, the Baltics, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Syria – is the list to be continued?