This article is about Russian military intervention in Crimea and reported interference in eastern Ukraine. For the secession crisis in Crimea and subsequent Russian annexation, see 2014 Crimean crisis. For the secession crisis in eastern Ukraine, see 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine.
Following the events of the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, a secession crisis began on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. In late February 2014, unmarked armed forces began to take over the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. Experts identified the gunmen to be Russian Special Forces and other paramilitaries. Russia at the time insisted that the forces did not include Russian troops stationed in the area, but only local self-defense forces. The local population and the media referred to them as "martians" or "little green men". On 17 April, Russian president Vladimir Putin admitted that Russian troops were in fact active in Crimea during the referendum, claiming this facilitated self-determination for the region.
Russia has rejected the legitimacy of the interim Ukrainian government in favor of ousted-President Viktor Yanukovych,[lower-alpha 1] whose request for intervention has also been cited. Russia has accused the United States and the European Union of funding and directing the Ukrainian revolution.
The Ukrainian military reaction has included a mobilization of Ukraine's armed forces and reserves. Western media reported that as of 3 March, Russia had stated that its troops would stay until the political situation was "normalised" however Russia has denied that its troops were involved in the conflict at the time.
In mid-April, the US accused Russia of responsibility for the unrest in eastern Ukraine, which the Russian Foreign Ministry also denied. On 17 April 2014, Putin acknowledged that the unmarked troops in Crimea were Russian but denied that separatists in eastern areas were. Ukraine and Russia backed a joint call for militant groups to disarm, and later criticized each other for its failure. As the crisis continued unabated, new sanctions were adopted amid claims that key separatists such as Igor Strelkov were Russian agents. US and Ukrainian officials claimed to have intercepted Russian communications and other evidence of coordination with the separatists.
On 22 February 2014 Ukrainian protesters overthrew the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, after months of protests. The opposition took control of the capital city Kiev and the government district; soon after President Yanukovych fled Kiev for Kharkiv and the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) voted to restore the 2004 version of the Constitution of Ukraine and remove Yanukovych from power. President Yanukovych refused to resign and politicians from Ukraine's east and south regions, including Crimea, declared continuing loyalty to Yanukovych.
Also on the early morning of 27 February, men in military uniform in Simferopol, the capital city of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, seized the Crimean parliamentary building and the Council of Ministers building and replaced the Ukrainian flag with the Russian flag. They ousted the prime minister appointed by the President of Ukraine and installed a pro-Russian politician, Sergey Aksyonov, as Crimea's prime minister. Aksyonov's Russian Unity party took just 4 percent of the votes in the 2010 elections. Aksyonov illegally declared himself in charge of local military and law enforcement. On 1 March, the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, decreed the Crimean legislature's appointment of Aksyonov as unconstitutional, as the position of prime minister is appointed by the president of Ukraine, and not elected by parliament. The Crimean legislature has declared its intention to hold a referendum on greater autonomy from Kiev on 25 May 2014, a move which Hatidzhe Mamutova, the head of the League of Crimean-Tatar Women, called illegal. This was later moved up to 16 March.
Councilors in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea naval fleets, selected Russian citizen Aleksei Chalyi as mayor, as pro-Russian demonstrators chanted "a Russian mayor for a Russian city". Furthermore, Sevastopol's police chief said he would refuse orders from Kiev. In Sevastopol, Kerch, and other Crimean cities, pro-Russian demonstrators pulled down the flag of Ukraine and replaced it with the flag of Russia in clashes with city officials.
Russian units began moving into Crimea almost immediately after the press conference of former president Yanukovych held on 28 February 2014 in Rostov-on-Don, near the eastern border of Ukraine, where he called for Putin to "restore order" in Ukraine. During the conference Yanukovych insisted that military action was "unacceptable" and that he would not request Russian military intervention. On 4 March 2014 Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, presented a photocopy of a letter signed by Victor Yanukovich on 1 March 2014 asking to use the Russian armed forces to "restore the rule of law, peace, order, stability and protection of the population of Ukraine". Aksyonov also appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring the peace in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Both houses of the Russian legislature (Federal Assembly) voted on 1 March 2014 to give Vladimir Putin the right to use Russian troops in Crimea.
The Russian-Ukrainian Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet, signed in 1997 and prolonged in 2010, determined the status of the military bases and vessels in Crimea. Russia is allowed to maintain up to 25,000 troops, 24 artillery systems (with a caliber smaller than 100 mm), 132 armored vehicles, and 22 military planes, on the Crimean and Sevastopol. The Russian Black Sea fleet is allowed to stay in Crimea until 2042.
[[file:Outline Map of Crimea (disputed status).svg
At the same time, the Port of Sevastopol and the town of Kacha are located in Sevastopol, a city in the southwestern area of the peninsula that does not belong to Crimea administratively. Both locations hold key strategic value for Russia, economically and militarily. The Port of Sevastopol, which Russia currently leases from Ukraine, is considered a key hold for maritime routes between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, and by extension the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It is also one of the few warm deepwater ports in the Black Sea available to Russia.
As the Ukrainian revolution unfolded—and as the newly installed Ukrainian government began to distance itself from Russia—it may have been the case that Russia felt that its access to the port and its military bases in the Crimean peninsula were in jeopardy, according to an analyst at the CNA corporation. On the other hand, the town of Kacha serves as military headquarters for Russia's 25th Independent Anti-submarine Helicopter Regiment (25th AHR) and the 917th Independent Composite Air Regiment (917th ICAR) of the Black Sea Fleet Naval Air Force. Ensuring access to the port and Russia's military bases in the Crimean peninsula may have been two of the main factors that sparked Russia's military intervention, according to an analyst at the CNA corporation, adding that it is however hard to speculate on motivations.
On 24 February 2014, additional soldiers arrived, on the Crimean Peninsula, but the total number remained well below 25,000.
On 26 February 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered urgent military exercises to test the combat readiness of his armed forces across western Russia. From that day onwards, there were reports that pro-Russian militia had established checkpoints surrounding the city of Sevastopol.
Crimea saw a sudden increase in armed presence, with militiamen dressed in camouflage but lacking any distinctive markings appearing all over the region. President Putin denied that Russian troops stationed in Crimea left their barracks, claiming these men were "pro-Russian local self-defence forces,". The presence of Russian troops is acknowledged by new Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov.
According to Suomen Sotilas (Soldier of Finland) magazine's expert, the troops belonged to high readiness forces of the Russian Federation.
Soldiers were seen patrolling Simferopol International Airport and Sevastopol International Airport, while Western and independent media reported Russian troop movements in Crimea, including Russian military helicopters moving into the peninsula and Russian Army trucks approaching Simferopol, the Crimean capital. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces took over a military airbase in Sevastopol, landed troops at another airbase, and surrounded a coast guard base.
Ukrainian Navy Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky officially defected and pledged allegiance to Crimea. According to MP Yuri Syrotyuk, Berezovsky had already been dismissed before his defection for ordering his troops not to resist the Russian forces in case of blockade or isolation. Ukrainian units which refused to surrender informed the acting Minister of DefenseIhor Tenyukh, who replaced Berezovsky with Rear Admiral Serhiy Hayduk.Internal Troops of Ukraine in Simferopol refused to lay down their arms and side with the Russians. By 3 March 2014, Russian troops captured the Ukrainian Border Guard base in Balaklava after repeated assaults.[not in citation given] There was reportedly one occasion when the wives of Ukrainian soldiers requested that the Russian soldiers not provoke the Ukrainian military. Russia vowed troops would stay until the political situation has been "normalised". Ukrainian media claimed at around 21:00 (LST), five vehicles with soldiers without insignia broke through the border checkpoint "Krym-Kuban" at the Kerch Strait ferry line.The same day in Sevastopol, the crew of the command ship Slavutych thwarted an attempt to hijack the vessel by a boat manned by unidentified armed personnel.
Ukrainian defence sources alleged that the commander of Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Vitko had issued an official ultimatum to all Ukrainian military servicemen to surrender by 05:00 (LST) 4 March 2014 or face a military confrontation. These allegations were denied by the Russian foreign ministry and a representative of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters. The deadline came and went without incident or attempt to storm. A Ukrainian human rights group claimed that Russian soldiers were openly standing on the perimeter of the Ukrainian hamlet Perevalne.
On 4 March two Russian vessels, the landing shipSaratov and the assault shipYamal, entered the Black Sea through the Boshphorus strait, as did the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachny.
Russian sailors scuttled the decommissioned cruiser Ochakov at the entrance to Donuzlav Bay in western Crimea as a blockship, in an attempt to prevent Ukrainian navy ships from gaining access to the Black Sea. The ocean-going tug Shakhter was also scuttled some hours later at the same location.
On 7 March, Ukraine claimed armed men attempted to storm a Ukrainian military base in Sevastopol by ramming trucks through the main gate of the base. However international media who visited the scene, said the gates did not appear to have been driven through, and there was no sign that the base had been seized. Also, another blockship, the former Black Sea Fleet rescue/diving support vessel BM-416 (VM-416) was scuttled near the Ochakov.
Unidentified individuals opened fire on an unarmed aircraft manned by members of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine near the Crimean city of Armyansk. No casualties were reported. Earlier, members of the OSCE mission were prevented from entering Crimea at the same spot.[not in citation given]
The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported that 80 Russian soldiers in trucks and supported by 40 to 50 civilians broke into and took over the navy's airfield at Novofedorivka. The air base had been previously overflown by four Mi-24 helicopters. Another airstrip was captured earlier in the day at Dzhankoi.
Pro-Russian forces captured a motorized infantry battalion at Bakhchysarai, a missile base at Chornomorskoe and the main military hospital in Crimea. They had occupied thirteen military posts by that date.
At evening, Pro-Russian forces seized an electronic surveillance outpost at the village of Olenevka. The unarmed Ukrainian personnel kept inside the compound, after dismantling the main power station.
At noon, a recoinnasance aircraft of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine was fired at by Russian armoured vehicles near the border city of Armyansk. It was the second incident of this kind in the last five days. Earlier, an unidentified fourth Russian vessel was sunk by the Russian navy as a blockship at Donuzlav Bay.
On 14 March, the Russian amphibious assault ship Yamal landed troops, trucks and at least one armoured personnel carrier at Kazachaya bay near Sevastopol. Russian high-tech corporation Rostec claims that Russian troops used equipment from the company to capture a US MQ-5B drone over Crimea, after jamming radio controlers signals to the unmanned aircraft. The report says that the UAV "belonged to the 66th American Reconnaissance Brigade, based in Bavaria". An unnamed Pentagon official denied the report on the basis that no US drone were flying missions over Crimea, and that the MQ-5B would be too basic and outdated to carry out such high-profile operation.Rostec itself later officially denied that the Avtobaza complex, a company product, had been used on Crimean territory, stating it is by no means responsible for the relocation and the results of the use of the equipment supplied by the Corporation's organizations within the framework of contractors' orders.
On 16 March, the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries agreed to a truce regarding besieged Crimean bases through 21 March, according to the Ukrainian ministry of defense. The Ukrainian military began to replenish supplies at its Crimean facilities, according to the Ukrainian ministry of defense while Crimean officials said the bases' troops would be given safe passage out; the bases were expected to be taken over at the ceasefire's end. Earlier, Russian troops planted anti-tank mines around a Ukrainian marines battalion at Feodosia.
One Ukrainian soldier and one pro-Russian soldier were killed and several wounded during an assault by unknown gunmen of the Ukrainian Army's Topographic Centre in Simferopol. The remainder of the Ukrainian troops were disarmed and taken prisoners. Crimean police later said that both the pro-Russian and Ukrainian forces had been fired upon from a single location. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused the pro-Russian soldiers of committing a war crime.
Pro-Russian militiamen by sending protesting civilians ahead attacked the Ukrainian Navy's headquarters at Sevastopol, and captured Ukrainian Navy's commander-in-chief, Serhiy Hayduk. Ukrainian Defense ministry reported another incident at the Southern Naval Base in Novoozyorne, where a tractor rammed the compound's gates and blocked the entrance. At evening, another naval base was seized without a fight by Pro-Russian forces at Bakhchisaray, and the Ukrainian personnel inside was expelled. At 20:30, Ukrainian troops fired on unidentified hostile forces which attempted to break into Belbek's air base throwing stun grenades. The attackers were repulsed.
Earlier in the morning on 20 March 2014 the administration ship Donbas, the tugboat Kremenets and the fire prevention motorboat Borshchiv raised the Russian Naval flags. At the same time, Russian military servicemen captured two Ukrainian corvettes in the Sevastopol Naval Base: Lutsk and Khmelnytskyi. About 200 Ukrainian sailors were brought to the coast. It was reported that the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, which had departed from her base at Odessa on 14 March, confronted four Russian warships with two assault helicopters (Mi-35) attempting to sail into Ukraine territorial waters and, although initially refused on a peaceful request, they were forced to withdraw to open sea when the frigate raised armed alert. At Sevastopol, a Russian fleet's tug attacked the Ukrainian corvette Ternopil with grenades, inflicting some damage. At evening, 15–20 Russian special troops from the tug stormed the corvette and captured her using stun grenades and automatic fire.
At Sevastopol, Russian warships surrounded the Ukrainian submarine Zaporizhzhia, and attacked her with grenades. The submarine was later seized by Russian personnel. At Donuzlav Bay, the Ukrainian minesweeper Cherkasy made a fruitless attempt to negotiate the scuttled vessels and gain access to open sea; after the failure, she and the landing ship Konstantin Olshansky dropped anchor and adopted a defensive formation.
The Ukrainian air base at Belbek was overrun and taken over by Russian special forces forces supported by six BTR-80 armoured vehicles. The commander of the base, Yuli Mamchur, was captured, and the rest of the Ukrainian personnel evicted. One Ukrainian serviceman and one journalist were injured. At the same time, Pro-Russian militias and activists launched an assault and took control of the Ukrainian air base at Novofedorovka. The attackers threw smoke grenades on the coumpound. The Ukrainian personnel eventually abandoned the barracks. At Sevastopol, the command ship Slavutych was seized by Pro-Russian and Russian troops from a tug after her crew put up a two-hour long resistance. Earlier, the corvette Vinnytsiawas also stormed and captured by Russian forces. At Donuzlav Bay, the crew of the amphibious ship Konstantin Olshansky was called to battle stations after being threatened by Russian forces.
According to sources from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, three senior Ukrainian military officers -among them Yuli Mamchur- remained unaccounted for in Crimea, presumably captured by Pro-Russian militias. At Donuzlav Bay, the Ukrainian minesweeper Cherkasy made a second ill-fated attempt to negotiate the scuttled ships at the bay's entrance. At night, the Russian navy scuttled a fifth ship at the mouth of the bay.
Russian Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters attacked the marines base at Feodosia at early morning, firing unguided rockets on the facilities there. One building was seen engulfed by thick smoke. Later, Russian special forces, backed by at least three BTR-80s armoured vehicles assaulted the barracks from two different directions firing automatic weapons and using stun grenades. The two top Ukrainian officers, Colonel Dmitry Delyatytskyy and Mayor Rostislav Lomtev, were captured and brought to an undisclosed location. Other 80 marines were taken prisoners. There were several wounded among the Ukrainian personnel. A tug carrying Russian forces boarded and seized the amphibious ship Konstantin Olshansky at Donuzlav Bay.Ukrainian sources claim that 200 troops assaulted the vessel with the use of automatic weapons and stun grenades. The Ukrainian ship was manned by 20 crewmembers at the time, who laid up a smokescreen. Ukrainian sources report that the crew disabled beyond repair the electronics and the engines of the vessel before surrender. The auxiliary ship Henichesk was also taken over earlier in the morning. The minesweeper Cherkasy successfully repulsed an assault by two speedboats by manoeuvering at full speed and launching explosive charges overboard in order to keep the hostile vessels away.
The last warship waving the Ukrainian flag in Crimea, the minesweeper Cherkasy, was captured by the Russians after a two-hour long battle against two Mi-35 helicopters, three speedboats and the ocean-going tug Kovel at Donuzlav Bay. Bursts of automatic fire and explosions were heard by witnesses on shore. There were no casualties, but the minesweeper's rudder was disabled by the explosion of a grenade. The crew was allowed to stay in their vessel until the morning of 26 March, and hoist the Ukrainian flag until the last member of the complement leave the warship.
All the Ukrainian personnel held prisoners by local authorities in Crimea were released unharmed on this day, according to the Ukrainian Minister of Defense.
Captain Vyacheslav Demyanenko, still in captivity in Crimea, was released by the Russian Army. He had been taken prisoner on 20 March.
During an altercation between Russian and Ukrainian navy personnel outside Novofyodorovka barracks, where Ukrainian troops were waiting to be evacuated to the mainland, a Russian soldier shot and killed a Ukrainian officer, according to the Ukrainian Minister of Defense. A murder investigation has been initiated by Crimean authorities.
During the 12th 'Direct Line with Vladimir Putin' the Russian president acknowledged that the Russian servicemen did back the Crimean self-defence forces. He maintained that they were sent in order to ensure proper conditions for the people of Crimea to be able to freely express their will and to prevent a similar type of situation as the ongoing unrest in eastern Ukraine. But Putin denied the claims by Ukraine and the West that Russian special forces were fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine.
While speaking before Ukraine's parliament, new Ukrainian Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey vowed that the army would retake Crimea, restoring the country's territorial integrity. This declaration was met with thunderous applause from parliament.
The coastal areas north and east of Ukraine witnessed several incidents of spillover from Crimea, and the arrests by Ukraine of a number of people alleged to be Russian agents.
Ukrainian media claimed that on or prior to 8 March, Russian soldiers entered the territory of Chonhar village in Henichesk Raion of Kherson Oblast, and that they placed anti-tank mines and boundary pillars. Chonhar is several kilometers north of the middle land connection to Crimea, and is now guarded by a Russian checkpoint.
On 15 March, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence claimed that the Ukrainian military repelled an attempt by Russian forces to enter the Arabat Spit portion that belongs to the Kherson Oblast adjacent to Crimea. The Ukrainian military allegedly used aircraft, ground forces, and its aeromobile battalion in the operation. It was reported that 40 Russian soldiers had been landed by helicopter near the village of Strilkove, and that they were later supported by three armoured vehicles and 60 troops landed from another six helicopters. A Ukrainian border guard spokesman estimated that there were as many as 120 Russian soldiers in the area. The Russian troops claimed they sought to protect a Chornomornaftogaz gas pumping station from possible terrorists actions. Some reports claimed that the Russian troops remained in the area. The Crimean authorities has announced a plan to nationalize the company and privatize it at an open tender. The Crimean deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev has said that the new owner of the company would be Gazprom.
On 26 March, the Ukrainian State Border Service reported that two Russian Navy ships were on station 7 km (3.9 nautical miles) off Strilkove, Kherson Oblast. One of the ships was identified as the Vishnya-class intelligence shipPriazov'ye.
On 27 March, Ukrainian paratroopers, supported by several armoured vehicles, seized the "Mars 75" hydrographic station in Henichesk, which belongs to the Russian Black Sea fleet. The station had been vacated by Russian troops two months ago, and the Ukrainian forces only met local civilian workers. There had been a long conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian military authorities about the control of the facilities.
On 28 March, two Russian helicopters from Crimea overflew Ukrainian territory in Kherson Oblast "by accident".
On 31 March, the Security Service of Ukraine reportedly captured a Captain of the Security Committee of Transnistria who attempted to set up a network to smuggle arms from Transnistria into Ukraine. He was accused of attempting to disrupt the upcoming presidential elections and of spying on the Ukrainian army and State Border Service. A Ukrainian citizen was arrested along with him.
On 1 April, the Russian intelligence ship Liman was spotted while carrying out a SIGINT mission off Odessa.
On 9 April, a Russian woman was arrested in Kherson on charges of espionage and setting up a pro-Russian network in Kherson and Novokakhovka to promote unrest in Donetsk. She was also accused of a shooting during the 7 April clashes at Mykolaiv, where three people were wounded. It was unclear whether she or another person arrested that day was recruiting people to take control of strategic points, such as the Kahovka dam.
The head of Chernihiv regional council announced that the Russians were conducting military movements on the Chernihiv Oblast segment of the State Border of Ukraine on 2 March. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 3 March that Russia had started to amass troops on several segments of the eastern borders with Ukraine (Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk oblasts). Later, the Luhansk border detachment dismissed those claims as a disinformation by media.
On 8 March, Ukrainian border guards began a special deployment along the border with Moldova, in the Transnistria area, in order to prevent any provocations by pro-Russian activists in Odessa Oblast.
On 13 March, the Russian Defence Ministry announced a buildup of Russian troops in regions along Ukraine's eastern borders, confirming at least some earlier reports. "Heavy training" involving over 10,000 troops and large amounts of equipment took place in the Rostov, Belgorod, and Kursk Oblasts. The drills were not announced in advance as is the norm. Ukrainian officials claimed the assembled force included 80,000 soldiers and several hundred each of tanks, planes, and field artillery. Following the death of a 22-year-old man in clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters in Donetsk, Russia declared its readiness to intervene in Eastern Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians there.
By 20 March, US officials claimed the number of Russian troops had reached 20,000, including airborne and special forces. Differences in troop estimates may have been the result of different ways of counting troops.
On 23 March, seven Russian servicemen from the Russian Black Sea Fleet were arrested by Ukrainian Border Guards at a railway checkpoint in Donetsk Oblast while traveling in civilian clothes from Volzhsky to Sevastopol. At night, a group of at least ten unidentified armed persons in camouflage fatigues attacked a State Emergency Service of Ukraine base at Odessa, and robbed a sentry of his SKS carbine before fleeing the scene when another sentry fired warning shots.
On 26 March, the Ukrainian State Border Service claim that there were 40 recorded reports of Russian UAVs flights over the border, 11 of them in violation of the procedures for the use of the Ukrainian airspace.
On 27 March, President Obama warned that Russian troops were "massing along the border". The Pentagon estimated the number to be at least 40,000 to 50,000, an apparent increase from previous figures of 20,000 to 30,000, and claimed that the Russian forces were preparing logistics (which could be used for exercises or other military actions) and camouflaging their positions. Russian officials reiterated that the troops were participating in exercises and that there was "no intention" to invade; the Pentagon had "seen no specific indications that exercises are taking place." Ukraine's estimate had risen to nearly 100,000 soldiers. The inhabitants of Senkovka, a village located in the tripoint between Belarus, Ukraine and Russia could spot Russian tanks on the road which leads to their settlement. The vehicles were part of a force consisting of the Kantemirovskaya Armoured Division and the Pskov and Tula Airborne Divisions. The Ukrainian Air Force conducted an unprecedented large-scale exercise involving 100 MiG-29s and Su-27s, 23 Su-24s, 39 L-39s and 60 anti-aircraft battalions operating Buk-M1, S-300V1 and S-300PS systems.
On 28 March, Ukrainian military analyst Dmitry Tymchuk claimed that Russian troops were regrouping along the northwestern border, around Kharkiv and Chernigov Oblasts, while they apparently withdrew from the border area of Luhansk Oblast. The Ukrainian State Border Service reported that Russian intelligence activities along Ukraine boundaries had increased, and that agents of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation were trying to destabilize the situation in the south-eastern regions.
On 30 March, Dmitry Tymchuk reported the number of Russian soldiers on the eastern border dropped to 10,000 from an estimated of 30,000 reported by US and European intelligence agencies two days before. A concentration of armoured vehicles, however, was observed heading to the frontier in the area of Bryansk Oblast, including T-90 main-battle tanks. Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Defense, Leonid Polyakov said that Russia was engaging in "psychological pressure" and probing maneuvers around the border. The Ukrainian army received the last batch of a 330,000 dry-rations consignment supplied by the US Army through the Office of Defense Cooperation of the US embassy in Kiev, headed by Mayor Alexis Scott.
April and May 2014
Beginning in April, protesters and armed militants began seizing government buildings including seats of local governance, police stations, and other security facilities. Western officials claimed that the militants included Russian special forces. US diplomats cited "tell-tale signs" such as the protests' apparent "professional, coordinated" nature and similarity and the militants' use of Russian equipment. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew spoke of additional sanctions against Russia for its alleged escalation of the situation in Ukraine and "apparent" support for the "concerted campaign". Russian officials denied that any Russian agents were in Ukraine. Vitaliy Yarema, the Ukrainian vice prime minister for law enforcement, reported that Russian special forces units, including the 45th Parachute Guards Regiment usually stationed near Moscow, were operating on Ukrainian territory in the Donetsk Oblast cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. On 16 April the reported number of Russian special forces troops was 450. Some reports from eastern Ukraine alleged that Russian military personnel were present, though the masked gunmen clearly also included locals.
On 1 April, NATO officials declared there was no evidence of a Russian withdrawal from the border area.
On 2 April, the Ukrainian State Border Service confirmed NATO reports claiming that Russian troops didn't withdraw from the common border with Ukraine. Ukraine's Channel 5 reporter Oleg Khryshtopa and two other members of his crew were captured by Russian soldiers near the village of Senkovka, Chernigov Oblast, while attempting to record the presence of Russian tanks on the border. According to his fiancée, Khryshtopa had sent her a message before being arrested, notifying her that the Russians had declared him persona non grata. Khrystopa and his team were released five hours later after being interrogated.
On 3 April, the security service of Ukraine arrested two Russian citizens accused of planning the kidnapping of a Presidential candidate and members of the local council in Lviv. They were caught with a cache of TNT blocks, small-arms ammunition, detonators, and sketches depicting the daily movements of their intended victims.
On 5 April, the security service of Ukraine confiscated another cache of weapons in Luhansk, consisting of 300 rifles, five pistols, a grenade-launcher, hand grenades, Molotov cocktails and combat knives. They arrested 15 pro-Russian militants.
On 10 April Western media published satellite images showing Russian forces mobilized near Ukraine, images which Russia claimed to be of an August 2013 military exercise.
On 24 April, Russia held exercises in its Rostov border region. Russian officials demanded that Ukraine withdraw its troops from the restive eastern regions, and reserved the right to intervene if its "interests in Ukraine" were attacked.
On 7 May, Vladimir Putin again announced the withdrawal of Russian troops back to their normal positions and asked the pro-Russian separatists in the region to delay referendums. NATO officials expressed skepticism that the troops had withdrawn.
On 30 May, it was reported that Ukrainian officials had stated that a Russian Orlan-10 UAV had been shot down in eastern Ukraine.
On 12 June, Ukrainian officials reported that three unmarked T-72 tanks had crossed the border into Ukraine and accused the Russian military of allowing the rebels to obtain them. The US reported that the tanks had crossed the border near Snizhne with a convoy of multiple rocket launchers and other military vehicles from a nearby Russian base. NATO released satellite imagery apparently showing ten tanks assembling at the nearby Rostov base, and three later being loaded onto transport trucks. Unmarked tanks were later spotted in Snizhne and Makiivka.
US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said the tanks "were somehow pulled out of the Russian warehouses, someone taught them how to use them, and they were sent from Russia to Ukraine."
On 14 June, a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying 49 personnel was shot down with a ground-to-air missile as it was attempting to land at Luhansk; initial reports indicate that all 49 Ukrainian service personnel on board were killed.
According to Ukrainian data, 250 civilians were killed in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the military operations. OSCE observers left Lugansk for security reasons.
On 17 July, a civilian passenger jetliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, crashed near the village of Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, killing all 298 people on board. There are allegations that separatists fired a surface-to-air missile,
and that Russia may be involved in "sponsored terrorism" inside Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that "there is no question" that the Russian army was firing artillery at Ukrainian military targets through the common border in the last several days. Earlier, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declared that Russia was stepping up its delivery of weapons to pro-Russian rebels.
According to Ukrainian data, 325 soldiers were killed and 1,232 wounded since the beginning of military operations in the east. 
Human Rights Watch has called on both warring factions to cease using MLRS BM-21 Grad in populated areas, and has said the use of these weapons systems may be a violation of international humanitarian laws and could constitute war crimes.
At a meeting to protest against the Russian intervention in Ukraine that took place near to the Ministry of Defense building in Moscow on 2 March 28 protesters were arrested by the police. Andrei Yurov, an expert of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said that the decision of the Council of the Federation allowing President Putin to use military force within the territory of Ukraine was taken on the basis of unconfirmed information about the "victims" among citizens in Crimea.
The Crimean Prime Minister Aksyonov asserted control over all security forces in Crimea and appealed to Russia for assistance in maintaining peace and tranquility. The position of Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Ukraine; On 1 March, acting president Turchynov decried the appointment of Sergei Aksyonov as the head of the government of Crimea as unconstitutional.
On 4 March Prime Minister Aksyonov announced the creation of a Crimean navy and Ministry of Defence. He also stated that three air defence units and over 5000 personnel pledged allegiance to Crimea.
Ukraine invited OSCE military experts to Crimea but they were turned away four times by pro-Russia gunmen who, on one occasion, fired warning shots. After being repeatedly refused entry to Crimea, unarmed OSCE military observers have been visiting other parts of Ukraine including the country’s east.
On 26 March, it was announced that Ukrainian officers detained by Russian forces, including Col. Yuliy Mamchur, were being released. Those who did not join the Russian military were expected to leave the Crimean peninsula.
On 28 March, the Russian Defense Minister said that captured Ukrainian military hardware in the Crimean operation would be returned.[dated info]
Russia states that it is prepared to, but has not yet undertaken military intervention to protect people living in the Ukraine and in particular ethnic Russians living there. This doctrine stipulates that it is acceptable for a state to intervene into another state on exceptional circumstances of a grave humanitarian emergency to save a whole population whose lives are threatened. However, Russia has consistently stated that its forces have not been involved in the Ukraine.
The United States has also stated that Russia's actions have violated Ukraine's sovereignty while Russia's concerns of threats to ethnic Russians have been addressed by a proposal to send international monitors to Ukraine to ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians—including ethnic Russians—are upheld.
Furthermore, both nations have also ratified several treaties between themselves. One such treaty, the Partition Treaty on the Black Sea Fleet—signed in 1997 and still in effect—allows Russia to maintain up to 25,000 Russian troops in Crimea. The US administration has asserted that Russia violated the treaty by not coordinating the troop movements with Ukraine, even though it didn't exceed the 25,000 threshold. CIA director John Brennan has stated that the legal force enacted by the treaty might have made Russia not consider its troop movements to be an invasion.[lower-alpha 2]
Marc Weller, a Cambridge University professor of international law, analyzed some legal aspects of what he believed to be Russia's actions (that Russia militarilly involved itself in the Ukraine - consistently denied by Russia), concluding that they are for the most part contraventions of established law. He has opined as follows:
"Russia has clearly and unambiguously recognised Ukraine and its present borders, [as] confirmed in the Alma Ata Declaration of December 1991, [...] the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, offering security guarantees to Ukraine in exchange for removing nuclear weapons from its territory, [and] the 1997 agreement on the stationing of the Black Sea fleet in Crimean ports."
The activity seen breached the latter agreement as it prohibited any unilateral increase of Russian forces in Crimea.
A 1974 United Nations definition deems using "foreign armed forces on the territory of a state in contravention of the agreement governing that presence" to be an act of "aggression", adding that "under present conditions an 'armed attack', which is the trigger point in the UN Charter for the application of the right to self-defence, has probably not yet occurred."
The motive claimed by Russia – to protect Russians in another country – "lacks substance" in law according to Weller. It is, according to Weller, primarily Ukraine's responsibility (not Russia's) in law to protect Ukrainian citizens from violence (including ethnic Russian Ukrainians). There is a doctrine allowing "rescuing citizens abroad", but it only applies to "grave humanitarian emergency" (for which evidence Weller argues did not exist; although loss of functioning government is sometimes viewed as such), does not apply to "foreigners declared nationals principally for the purpose of rescuing them forcibly", and can at most be used to rescue citizens back to their country, rather than occupying parts of another country. Further, "a state intervening for genuine humanitarian purposes would not be entitled to cause a change in the status of the territory concerned."
Although the past president of Ukraine was not removed in the correct manner (via impeachment) he was, according to Weller, "unanimously disowned by the parliament." Weller argues that the ousted President could no longer claim to represent the true sovereign of Ukraine, the people. The regional government of Crimea, according to Weller, seems to "lack the legal power" to require intervention by a foreign state.
"According to international precedent, [Crimea] cannot simply secede unilaterally, even if that wish is supported by the local population in a referendum", not least since, according to Weller, "international practice generally seeks to accommodate separatist demands within the existing territorial boundaries". Weller also argues that, "divorce at gunpoint" is not recognized in international law.
Another expert, Stefan Talmon (de), a professor of international law at the University of Bonn, shares the same legal view, as does former professor of Public Law and Eastern European Law Otto Luchtenhandt (de), who notes that a referendum by Crimea alone would previously have been invalid, as "Article 73 of the Ukrainian constitution[which?] states very clearly that questions of Ukraine's territorial sovereignty can only be decided by referendums put to the whole of the population." He states "hardly any" countries would recognize Crimea as Russia, even with a regional referendum. He draws a parallel to northern Cyprus which, 31 years after its 1983 separation, is still only recognized by the country – Turkey – that claims it.
Sumantra Maitra, from the University of Otago, New Zealand, argued that this Russian aggression can be attributed to Vladimir Putin's foreign policy and economic policy correlation, and Russian aggression is directly proportional to its economic performance. He also mentioned that Russian actions in Ukraine implies the Security Dilemma Russia is currently facing.
Interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov accused Russia of "provoking a conflict" by invading Crimea. He compared Russia's military actions to the 2008 Russia–Georgia war, when Russian troops occupied parts of the Republic of Georgia, and the breakaway enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were established under the control of Russian-backed administrations. He called on Putin to withdraw Russian troops from Crimea and stated that Ukraine will "preserve its territory" and "defend its independence". On 1 March, he warned, "Military intervention would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia."
On 1 March, Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov placed the Armed Forces of Ukraine on full alert and combat readiness.
NATO increasingly saw Russia as an adversary, though officials hoped this would be temporary. Initial deployments in March and early April were restricted to increased air force monitoring and training in the Baltics and Poland, and single ships in the Black Sea. On 16 April, officials announced the deployment of ships to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, and increasing exercises in "Eastern Europe". The measures were apparently limited so as not to appear aggressive. Leaders emphasized that the conflict was not a new Cold War but some analysts disagreed,. Others supported applying George F. Kennan's concept of containment to possible Russian expansion.
Beginning 23 April 600 US troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team held bilateral exercises in Poland and the Baltic. Plans were made for a communications mission to counter Russian propaganda in eastern Ukraine, improve internal Ukrainian military communication, and handle apparent Russian infiltration of the security services.
On 5 March the Pentagon announced, independently of NATO, that it would send six fighter jets and a refueling aircraft to augment the four already participating in the Baltic Air Policing mission.
The US rotation was due to last through the end of April. The Polish Air Force was scheduled to participate from 1 May through 31 August.
Throughout the second half of March, the UK, France, the Czech Republic, and Denmark all offered aircraft to augment the Polish rotation. UK officials announced plans to send six Eurofighter Typhoon. Over the next two weeks, France offered four fighters, and anonymous officials mentioned possible air support for Poland and stationing AWACs in Poland and Romania. The Czech Republic offered to deploy fighter aircraft to interested countries bordering or near Ukraine.Denmark planned to send six F-16 fighters.
Swedish, Lithuanian, and US aircraft took part in exercises over the Baltic in early April. The US was considering establishing a small but "continuous" military force in the Baltic to reassure its allies. NATO and Estonia agreed to base aircraft at the Ämari Air Base, which was reportedly possible due to the increased number of planes offered by allies. The Lithuanian defense ministry reported that the number of Russian planes flying close to the border had increased in January and February.
Black and Mediterranean Seas
An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Truxtun, crossed into the Black Sea on 6 March to participate in long-planned exercises with Bulgaria and Romania.[lower-alpha 3] American officials stated that it was part of a routine deployment for exercises with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies. The Truxtun left the Black Sea by 28 March, but some politicians argued that it should return as a show of support. An additional 175 Marines were to be deployed to the Black Sea Rotational Force in Romania, though this was decided in late 2012.
On 10 April, the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook entered the Black Sea to "reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners of America's commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working towards mutual goals in the region", according to a Pentagon spokesman. On 14 April, the ship was repeatedly buzzed by a Su-24 Russian attack aircraft. The Donald Cook left the Black Sea on 28 April, leaving the USS Taylor.
7 U.S. F-16's were scheduled to participate in a training exercise in Poland. On 6 March, it was announced that 12 fighters and 300 service personnel would go to Poland. The increase was attributed to concerns over Russian activities in Crimea. It was later announced that the detachment from the 555th Fighter Squadron would remain through the end of 2014. Six F-16's were also stationed in Romania with no given departure date.
On 26 March, US and UK defense chiefs agreed to accelerate the development of the NATO missile defence system. Talks were "dominated" by the situation in Ukraine, but officials emphasized that this was not a response to Russian actions.
NATO foreign ministers at a meeting in early April did not rule out stationing troops in countries near Russia, saying that Russia had "gravely breached the trust upon which our cooperation must be based". Poland requested that "two heavy brigades" be stationed on its territory, to mixed responses; NATO considered increased support for Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.
According to Stars and Stripes, the Atlas Vision exercise with Russia (planned for July) was cancelled. The Rapid Trident exercise in western Ukraine, scheduled for the same time, was to proceed as planned, as was the naval exercise Sea Breeze.
France suspended most military cooperation with Russia and considered halting the sale of two Mistral-class warships it had been contracted to build.
Canada, the UK,
all suspended cooperation to some extent. On 1 April, NATO suspended all military and civilian cooperation with Russia. Russian diplomatic access to NATO headquarters was restricted.
On 8 May, Russia conducted a large-scale military drill simulating a US/NATO nuclear attacks. Analysts considered it to be politically motivated.
Military actions in other countries
Ukraine reported that Russian units in Belarus were participating in Russia's military exercises near the Ukrainian border.
Officials in Sweden and Finland were concerned by apparent Russian intelligence activities. While both Nordic countries were strongly non-aligned (only participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace), and experts considered a Russian attack unlikely, interest in NATO membership increased slightly. Local populations preferred a possible Sweden-Finland alliance, and both countries increased radar- and aircraft-based monitoring of Russian movements. In late April, Sweden announced plans to gradually increase its defense budget by over 10% by 2024, purchase 10 new fighter planes, and equip its fighters with cruise missiles.
On 7 March, the Turkish Air Force reported it scrambled six F-16 fighter jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along Turkey's Black Sea coast. It was the second incident of its kind reported that week, with one occurring the day before on 6 March. The Russian plane remained in international airspace. Diplomatic sources revealed that Turkey has warned Russia that if it attacks Ukraine and its Crimean Tatar population, it would blockade Russian ships' passage to the Black Sea.
A number of countries condemned and expressed grave concerns over the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The UN Security Council held a special meeting at the weekend on the crisis. The G7 countries condemned the violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, and urged Russia to withdraw. All G7 leaders are refusing to participate in it due to assumed violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia's obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine.
The United States raised the likelihood of sanctions against Russia unless they withdrew. United States President Barack Obama has put visa restrictions in place against "those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," and the United States State Department has announced its own plans to do the same . Canada recalled its ambassador from Russia. British Foreign Minister William Hague removed Britain from preparations for the upcoming G8 summit and said the UK would work with international partners to "ensure that reforms by Ukraine are matched by international willingness to provide economic support".
The intervention caused turbulence in financial markets. Many markets around the world fell slightly due to the threat of instability. The Swiss franc climbed to a 2-year high against the dollar and 1-year high against the Euro. The Euro and the US dollar both rose, as did the Australian dollar. The Russian stock market declined by more than 10 percent, whilst the Russian ruble hit all-time lows against the US dollar and the Euro. The Russian central bank hiked interest rates and intervened in the foreign exchange markets to the tune of $12 billion to try to stabilize its currency. Prices for wheat and grain rose, with Ukraine being a major exporter of both crops.
War crimes accusations
On 24 July, Human Rights Watch accused Ukrainian government forces and pro-government militias of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, stating that "The use of indiscriminate rockets in populated areas violates international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes." It also stated that anti-Kiev insurgent forces have "failed to take all feasible precautions to avoid deploying in civilian areas."
↑Walker (2014) "Putin also insisted that ousted Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, was the legitimate leader of Ukraine and that the 'so-called' acting president had no authority and the new government in Kiev illegal."
↑Dilanian (2014) "CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the vital Crimea region, so Russia may not consider its recent troop movements to be an invasion, U.S. officials said."
↑Baldor (2014) "A U.S. warship is also now in the Black Sea to participate in long-planned exercises."
↑ 42.042.1Dilanian, Ken. "CIA reportedly says Russia sees treaty as justifying Ukraine moves", Los Angeles Times (3 March 2014): "CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the vital Crimea region, so Russia may not consider its recent troop movements to be an invasion, U.S. officials said. The number of Russian troops that have surged into Ukraine in recent days remains well below that threshold, Brennan said, according to U.S. officials who declined to be named in describing private discussions and declined to name the legislator."
↑Analysis: Why Russia's Crimea move fails legal test. BBC (7 March 2014). “President Vladimir Putin ... indicated that the use of force for humanitarian purposes or in defence of Russian assets had not yet occurred. It might become necessary in the future ... For now, Russia claims that its regular forces are not involved in the present stand-off, and that it does not control the local militias supposedly responsible for it.”
↑Checkpoints put at all entrances to Sevastopol. Kyiv Post (26 February 2014). Retrieved on 23 April 2014. “Checkpoints were put up at all entrances to Sevastopol last night and the borders to the city are guarded by groups of people, police units, and traffic police.”
↑BBC News – Analysis: Why Russia's Crimea move fails legal test. BBC (7 March 2014). “President Vladimir Putin ... indicated that the use of force for humanitarian purposes or in defence of Russian assets had not yet occurred. It might become necessary in the future ... For now, Russia claims that its regular forces are not involved in the present stand-off, and that it does not control the local militias supposedly responsible for it.”