SHAFAQNA – Here are key dates in the conflict between pro-Moscow separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine that has left more than 5,300 dead since April 2014, according to the United Nations.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia of arming the rebels and of having deployed more than 9,000 soldiers in Ukraine, something Moscow denies.
— 2014 —
April 6: Two weeks after Russia annexes the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, pro-Moscow demonstrators seize government buildings in towns and cities in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, including Donetsk and Lugansk.
April 13: Kiev announces the launch of an “anti-terrorist” operation aimed at retaking the rebel zones.
May 11: Voters call for independence in referendums in Lugansk and Donetsk that are rejected as being illegitimate by Kiev and the West.
May 25: Ukraine’s presidential election is won by Petro Poroshenko.
May 26: Major battle breaks out for control of Donetsk’s modern airport after it is seized by rebels.
June 27: The EU and Ukraine sign an association agreement whose rejection originally sparked the Ukraine crisis.
July 5: Rebels abandon their main base of Slavyansk in the face of a government onslaught and retreat en masse into regional centre Donetsk.
July 17: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over rebel-held territory, killing all 298 people on board.
July 29: The EU and the United States broaden sanctions on Russia.
August 25: Rebels mount a counter-offensive in the southeast, reportedly backed by Russian troops and heavy weapons.
September 5: Ceasefire signed in Minsk but violence continues.
October 26: Pro-Western parties win the most seats in an election boycotted in the east.
November 2: Separatists in eastern Ukraine vote in Russian-backed leadership elections that Kiev and the West refuse to recognise.
November 12: NATO accuses Russia of sending fresh columns of tanks, troops and military hardware into Ukraine.
December 26: An exchange of prisoners begins under an accord concluded in Minsk between Kiev, Moscow and the OSCE and the separatists, but the peace process remains deadlocked.
— 2015 —
January 22: Donetsk airport falls into the hands of the rebels, who two days later launch an assault on the strategic government-held port city of Mariupol.
February 5: US Secretary of State John Kerry says President Barack Obama will “soon” decide whether to give Kiev arms.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande make a surprise trip to Kiev to propose a new peace plan.
February 6: Kiev and separatists agree a brief humanitarian truce around the battleground eastern town of Debaltseve so besieged civilians can leave.
Merkel and Hollande fly to Moscow to seek President Vladimir Putin’s backing for their peace plan.
Source : AFP.com