By: Sumaiya Ara
In 2013, an outburst of protests against former Ukrainian president President, Viktor Yanukovych, took place after his rejection of a deal with the European Union. Citizens were furious when this deal was rejected because it would have greatly benefited the Ukrainian economy. President Yanukovych later fled Ukraine in February 2014 after an escalation of protests. In early 2014, armed conflicts erupted in Eastern Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula. Two months after the annexation, pro-Russian separatists held an independence referendum in the eastern Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk. Following the referendum, armed conflicts between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed forces commenced. Russia’s denial of military involvement was short-lived after reports of buildup of Russian military equipment and troops came into light from NATO.
France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine started negotiations in February 2015 in hopes of reaching a cessation of violence through the Minsk agreements. The layout of the agreements consisted of numerous terms such as a cease-fire, full Ukrainian government control of the conflicted regions and the withdrawal of heavy Russian weaponry. A settlement was not reached and efforts of peace were unsuccessful. In April 2016, NATO deployed four battalions in Easter European countries and in 2017, the U.S. deployed two tank brigades in Poland. Nine companies and some Russian government officials had sanctions imposed on them as they were involved in the eastern Ukraine conflict. The sale of anti-tank weapons in Ukraine was approved by the State Department in March of 2018 and in October 2018, Ukraine and eight other NATO countries held a series of large scale air exercises. These exercises were necessary as Russia held their air exercises a month prior and it was the largest one they held after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine has had a lot of incoming cyberattacks after the start of their conflict with Russia. In December 2015, upwards of 225,000 people lost their power in Ukraine after a cyber attack on power generation firms. Then, in June 2017, Ukrainian government and businesses were hit with the NotPetya cyberattack, which caused billions of dollars in damages worldwide. Right before the beginning of the invasion, in February 2022, Ukrainian government websites such as the defense, interior ministries, banking and other organizations were once again targeted by cyber attacks.