10 Facts you should know about Russian military aggression against Ukraine
FACT 1: RUSSIA PLANNED MILITARY AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE IN ADVANCE. VICTORY OF THE REVOLUTION OF DIGNITY WAS ONLY A CONVENIENT PRETEXT
Russia launched its well-planned armed aggression against Ukraine on 20 February 2014 with the military operation of its Armed Forces on seizing a part of the Ukrainian territory — Crimean peninsula. This date is not even denied by the Russian Ministry of Defense, as it is indicated on the departmental medal “For the return of Crimea”. In fact, only the next day Viktor Yanukovych fled from Kyiv; and it was already 22 February 2014 that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution “On the dissociation of the President of Ukraine from fulfillment of constitutional powers and appointment of early presidential elections in Ukraine”, used by Russia as a pretext for accusations of the alleged “unconstitutional coup in Ukraine”.
FACT 2: RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AIMED AT DESTROYING UKRAINE AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE
Illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol was just the first Russian step aimed at undermining independence and sovereignty of Ukraine. The Kremlin has always been firmly convinced that Russia will never become a world leader without control over Ukraine, meanwhile a democratic and prosperous Ukraine is a threat to the current authoritarian rule in Russia. That is why the next step of the Russian aggression was an attempt to destabilize the situation in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine in order to form a quasi-state “Novorossiya”. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this plan at the “Dialogue with the Russians” TV program on the First Channel on 17 April 2014. We succeeded to disrupt the full implementation of his plans, but Russian regular troops and its proxies occupied certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
FACT 3: MILITARY AGGRESSION IS JUST ONE ELEMENT OF RUSSIAN HYBRID WARFARE AGAINST UKRAINE
Military aggression is just one element of the Russian hybrid warfare against Ukraine. Other elements encompass: 1) propaganda based on lies and falsifications; 2) trade and economic pressure; 3) energy blockade; 4) terror and intimidation of Ukrainian citizens; 5) cyber attacks; 6) a strong denial of the very fact of war against Ukraine despite large scope of irrefutable evidence; 7) use of pro-Russian forces and satellite states in its own interests; 8) blaming the other side for its own crimes.
FACT 4: COURAGE OF UKRAINIANS AND SOLIDARITY OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY STOPPED RUSSIAN INVASION
Courageous Ukrainian soldiers, National Guard and other defense and law enforcement servicemen stopped the active phase of the Russian military invasion against Ukraine.
Joint political and diplomatic efforts of the international community constitute a crucial element in countering Russian aggression. On 27 March 2014 the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution 68/262 «Territorial Integrity of Ukraine» which confirmed the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and the absence of any legal basis to change the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. The same stance was confirmed by the UN General Assembly resolution 71/205 “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” of 19 December 2016. Besides that, this resolution unambiguously defines Russia as an occupying power and places all the responsibility for human rights violation in Crimea upon Moscow.
Numerous documents in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders were approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and other international organizations.
Political and economic sanctions are the most effective tool of pressure on the aggressor state. They significantly reduced the possibility of a large-scale invasion and forced Russia to sit at the negotiating table, in particular within the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine and Russia are parties to the conflict, the OSCE is a mediator) and Normandy Quartet (Ukraine and Russia are parties to the conflict, France and Germany are mediators). A decision to ease or lift the sanctions will encourage a new wave of Russian military aggression.
FACT 5: RUSSIAN AGGRESSION HAS LED TO DIRE HUMANITARIAN IMPACTS
Russian aggression against Ukraine has left about 9800 people killed and up to 23000 wounded. This number includes, in particular,
- 2819 killed Ukrainian soldiers and representatives of other law-enforcement and security bodies (as of 14 February 2017);
- 298 passengers of MH17 flight, including 80 children, killed as a result of terrorist attack on 17 July 2014, when the Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down by the Russian servicemen from BUK missile system that had been transferred to the occupied territory of Donbas from the Russian Federation;
About 1.800.000 residents of Crimea and Donbas are now internally displaced persons after being compelled to leave their homes.
As of today Russia continues to illegally occupy Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea (26 081 km²), Sevastopol (864 km²), certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (16799 km²) — in total 43744 km² or 7,2% of the territory of Ukraine.
The occupied areas have become a territory of fear and terror, the occupying authorities act by repressive measures, resorting to systematic and large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Alarming human rights situation in occupied Crimea was condemned by the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205 «Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)», adopted on 19 December 2016.
Economy of Donbas has been completely destroyed. Equipment of main industrial facilities of Donbas was dismantled and transported to the territory of Russia. Situation with flooded mines threatens environmental disaster. Russian authorities do not allow access of experts for assessing the threats and seeking ways to mend the situation.
A 409,7 km section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border in the east remains out of control by the Government of Ukraine.