Most residents identify as Orthodox Christians. Three Orthodox churches have been reduced to two: one subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate and an independent Ukrainian church under the Kiev Patriarchate. In western Ukraine, many of the Greek-Catholic Church, and a smaller group belong to the Roman Catholic. There are also Protestant communities and Jewish congregations. The Crimean Tatars are mostly Muslims.
A large proportion of the residents are not religiously active. During the Soviet era (1922–1991) the regime was explicitly atheistic and many churches were closed or used for other purposes, such as sports halls or meeting rooms. After the fall of communism, religious currents have gained momentum. Religious communities have struggled to recover property confiscated during the Soviet era.
Orthodox Christianity was adopted when the Kiev Kingdom was Christianized in 988 (see Older History). The church obeyed Moscow before 1921, when some broke out and formed the autocephalous (self-governing) Orthodox church. It was later forced underground, but resurfaced in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Following the independence of Ukraine, the Orthodox Christianity was further divided when the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church broke with Moscow and established a patriarchate in Kiev. The wrestling was not accepted by everyone, and the result was a church under the Moscow Patriarchate and one under the Kiev Patriarchate. In 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul (the “Mother Church”) and the Synod, the Church Meeting, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church recognized themselves as independent. This happened despite objections from Moscow and the schism between the churches deepened. The autocephalous church, least of the three Orthodox communities, joined the Kiev Patriarchate.
The largest non-Orthodox Christian community is the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, a so-called unified or East Catholic church. It originated through the Union in Brest-Litovsk in 1596, when a number of Ukrainian bishops acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman Pope but retained the Orthodox order of worship. After World War II, the United Church was banned. Its properties were nationalized or handed over to the Orthodox Church, and the believers were persecuted. In the late 1980s, the Greek Catholic Church was able to leave its underground existence.
There are also Roman Catholics, not least among Poles. Of a number of Protestant communities, the Pentecostal church is the largest. Jewish congregations have regained their independence and there are now active synagogues in many cities. According to official estimates, there are half a million Muslims in Ukraine, but Muslim sources indicate higher numbers. Crimean Tatars are almost exclusively Muslims.
Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, followers of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been detained there. The community has been banned in Russia since 2017.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Ukraine, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Campaign start for presidential election
The electoral movement begins before the presidential election on March 31. Sitting President Petro Poroshenko is expected to find it difficult to get re-elected. The country’s economy has run into crutches during the years of armed conflict in the east, voters are disappointed that the fight against corruption is slow and oligarchs still have a great influence. In current opinion polls, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has more support than the president, but comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyj – who announces his decision to stand on New Year’s Eve – is considered to have chances. According to Ukrainian media, the comedian has the support of oligarch Ihor Kolomojskyj.
Russian sanctions are being increased
Russia is imposing an import ban on a number of goods from Ukraine. The ban includes diapers, bread, sunflower oil, chocolate, wheat, beer and wine. The list of persons and companies subject to Russian sanctions has also been extended. It now includes 567 people and 75 companies, which will freeze any assets in Russia.
Fence separates Crimea from Ukraine
A six-mile-long fence has been erected in Northern Crimea, between the peninsula annexed by Russia and the rest of Ukraine. The fence is needed to protect the Crimea against the Ukrainian government, claims a representative of the Crimean Parliament in Russian media.
Arm rest with obstacles
In eastern Ukraine, the government forces and Prorian rebels agree on a ceasefire intended to rule the New Year and the Orthodox Christmas celebration. Violation of the ceasefire is reported immediately after it comes into force a few days later and the parties bring charges against each other.
The laws of war cease to apply
The laws of war that Ukraine introduced in border areas after the confrontation in the Azovsky lake (see November 25 and 28), President Poroshenko announces. When the state of emergency was introduced, the government warned that Russia was reinforcing its forces beyond the border. Twenty-four Ukrainian crew are still being held in Russian captivity.
Church meeting forms an independent church
At a bishop’s meeting in Kiev, the formal decision is made to form a Ukrainian Orthodox Church independent of the Russian Orthodox Church (see October 11 and November 13). The church’s highest leader becomes the metropolitan Jepifanij. He is said to stand near the Kiev Patriarch Filaret, which has led the effort to form a stand-alone church. Many issues remain to be resolved, not least the handling of church properties that belong to the Moscow Patriarchate but are located in Ukraine. Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which is smaller than the other communities, also participates in the Synod (Church Meeting) as it is intended to form a Unified Ukrainian Church.
EU sanctions against Russia are extended
13th of December
EU leaders extend the Union’s sanctions on Russia by another six months. The first decision on punitive measures was taken following the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in 2014, which Russian rebels are believed to have implemented. The sanctions are broadly aimed at Russia’s economy, including oil trading. Stricter sanctions, against individuals and organizations, were introduced following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula (see November 11).
Appeal against Moscow faithful churches
Authorities carry out raids in three churches in northern Ukraine and against priests in the Orthodox direction, which is the Moscow faithful. Three days earlier, a Metropolitan, a church leader, had his home ransacked (see 11 October, 31 October and 13 November). No one is apprehended, but those exposed to the house search compare to how churches were persecuted during the Soviet era.
The laws of war come into force
The state of emergency takes effect in ten Ukrainian regions: along the border with Russia, at the border with Russian-aided Transnistria and along the Black Sea. The laws of war allow the authorities to mobilize personnel with military experience, place restrictions on mass media and limit freedom of assembly. Ukraine is also imposing a ban on Russian men of arms age (16-60 years) to enter the affected areas. According to President Poroshenko’s message, it is feared that “private armies” will be formed, forces that oppose Ukraine’s army in the same way as in the Moscow-friendly separatist enclaves in the east.
Tapered conflict in Crimea
The conflict on the Crimean Peninsula is intensified. According to a 2003 agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the Azovsk Lake and the Kerch Strait will constitute joint territorial waters, but Russian border guards are now shooting Ukrainian naval vessels trying to cross the strait. Several crew members are wounded and three Ukrainian vessels are seized, the crews are imprisoned. A tanker is placed at the newly built bridge between Crimea and Russia so that Azovska Lake and Eastern Ukrainian ports are blocked for a day. Both countries request the UN Security Council to address the incident. Ukraine’s parliament approves the introduction of martial law in border areas and along the coast towards the Black Sea.
Orthodox fragmentation in Ukraine
One branch of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine wants to continue to be the faithful Russian Orthodox Church (see October 11 and October 31). The message is left after a meeting of the church’s main representative in the Petjerskak Monastery in Kiev, the site of Ukraine’s main shrine. The Patriarch Filaret wants to lead a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but the Moscow faithful church leaders do not recognize the decision that makes his church independent and the Filaret as leader. Instead, they do as the Russian Orthodox Church: breaks ties with the mother church in Istanbul.
Choices in enclaves are questioned
The breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk are organizing elections, despite protests both from the Ukrainian government and from western countries. Denis Pushilin, acting Donetsk president since the death of separatist leader Alexandr Zacharchenko (see August 31), calls it democracy and the election results confirm his leadership position. In Luhansk, the election strengthens local leader Leonid Paschnik. Kurt Volker, US Special Envoy of Ukraine, describes the separatist pianos as “second class police states ruled by crooks and buses, subsidized by Russian taxpayers”. Analysts see the elections as a way for Russia to strengthen the grip on three percent of Ukraine’s territory with 3, 7 million residents. Nearly a month after the elections, the EU extends its sanctions list with nine people who helped organize them.
Ukrainian soldiers die in assault
Four Ukrainian soldiers lose their lives in war events in disputed areas of eastern Ukraine. Two, according to the Ukrainian defense, died in an assault near the rebel-held city of Luhansk, where the rebels are said to have made use of rough-caliber grenades. Two other soldiers later lose their lives in an explosion in the Donetsk area.
US extends sanctions for Crimea
The United States imposes sanctions on three persons and nine institutions of various kinds in connection with Russia’s actions in Ukraine (see March 21, 2014, September 1, 2016 and January 26, 2018). One of the people is the former head of Russia’s robotic forces and artillery, which now leads a hotel building on the Crimean peninsula. Since Russia annexed Crimea, Ukrainian-owned hotels have been taken over by the Russian state and resold to Russian entrepreneurs.
Corruption fighters die after acid attack
Kateryna Handzjuk, 33, dies in the suites of an acid attack she suffered on July 31. In her hometown on the Black Sea, she had made herself known as an activist against corruption. Five men have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the assault, but activists and organizations in Ukraine claim that it is common for crimes not to be investigated.
Russian sanctions against Ukraine
Russia faces financial sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies. The list includes Parliament’s President and Minister of Defense, including politician Julia Tymoshenko, former prime minister, who is one of the favorites for next year’s presidential elections in Ukraine. The companies include mining and chemical companies. On the Russian side, it is stated that the sanctions are countermeasures against Ukrainian decisions, which include limiting the activities of Russian companies. Since 2014, Ukraine has imposed sanctions against 1,228 Russian citizens and 468 Russian companies or institutions.
Robot tests near Crimea
A military exercise that will last for four days will begin over the Black Sea. Ukraine is testing robots not far from the Crimean Peninsula, which has been held by Russian forces since 2014. Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Ukraine’s capital and declares that Germany will work to keep sanctions on Russia. The sanctions were introduced in response to Russian military action in Ukraine. But while Merkel promises Ukraine support, Russia and Germany jointly build gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea. The Nord Stream management projects are rejected by Ukraine, which loses revenue when Russian gas exports can take place without passing through pipelines in Ukraine.
Church divide leads to warning from Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin comments for the first time on developments leading to a permanent separation between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches. He warns of the “most serious consequences” and describes it as a “duty to preserve spiritual and historical unity” (see October 11). Putin returns to the subject when he holds a large press conference ahead of Christmas and then calls the separation of the Ukrainian church from the Russian into a violation of religious freedom.
Russia is urged to stop elections in enclaves
In the Donetsk and Luhansk separatist clans in eastern Ukraine, the Moscow-friendly rebels plan to hold elections on November 11. Eight European countries, including Sweden, condemn the plans described as illegal and urge Russia to use its influence to stop the elections.
EU award to imprisoned director
The film director Oleg Sentsov is awarded the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s human rights award. Sentsov is being held in Russia. From the Russian side, the reaction is sharp: the price is dismissed as “political”, aimed at Russia (see October 5).
Promises for loans – but then gas prices have to be raised
An agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allows Ukraine to raise $ 4 billion in loans. The agreement replaces a four-year support package that the parties agreed on in 2015. But first, Ukraine must have a new state budget for 2019. The budget is approved in Parliament on November 23, despite the fact that there are hitches, in particular the IMF’s demand that the Treasury be strengthened by households having to pay more for gas and heat – conditions previously approved by the Ukrainian government but not implemented. Now Prime Minister Hrojsman says that gas prices should be increased by 23.5 percent. Of the previous $ 17.5 billion aid package, Ukraine has received just under nine billion. On December 18, the IMF gives final approval for the new loan package, of which 1.4 billion can be paid out directly.
The OSCE sees military traffic across the Russian border
Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) tell the AFP news agency that over the past week they have seen vehicles with military equipment roll into rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine from Russia and out again. The trucks have crossed the border at night, on a smaller road where there is no border station. The OSCE does not say that weapons were thus delivered to separatists in Ukraine.
Mass murder in school on the Crimean peninsula
At least 20 people lose their lives in a series of violent incidents in Kerj on the Crimean Peninsula. An explosion in a technical school is followed by gunfire and most of the victims are teenage students. Russian authorities first claim that it is a terrorist act, but abandon that description when it emerges that it is a bullied student who committed the crime and then took his own life. Three days of country grief is announced in Crimea. Kerj is on the peninsula’s foothills to the east. Since Russia annexed Crimea, a bridge has been built between Kerch and the Russian mainland.
Flight wreck during exercise with NATO
Two combat pilots perish when a Ukrainian Sucho plane crashes during exercise. It happens when Ukraine and NATO military countries carry out a series of joint flight exercises, launched on October 8. Under the name of Clear Sky 2018, combat forces are exercising over western Ukraine. Staff from the US, UK, Netherlands, Poland and Romania are participating.
Ukrainian church becomes independent
The Patriarch The filet is recognized as the leader of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church and the Church is granted independent status after being subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church since 1686. The decisions are made at a synod in Istanbul – a church meeting which is the highest decision-making body of the Orthodox Church. The ecumenical patriarchate in Istanbul, led by a patriarch who is also titled Archbishop of Constantinople, is considered the mother church of many Orthodox. The independence of the Ukrainian Church has to do with the Russian Orthodox Church supporting the political leadership in Moscow; among other things, the church leadership has supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The Russian Orthodox Church, which also opposes the release of the Church in Ukraine, responds to the Synod’s decision to cut all ties to the Patriarchate in Istanbul (see September 14 andDecember 15).
Explosions in ammunition stores
About 12,000 people are evacuated following frequent explosions in an ammunition store just 15 miles northeast of the capital, Kiev. The explosions, which have started at night, also trigger a fire. Some 60 people who breathe in smoke need care. A flight ban over the area is introduced. Ukraine’s defense ministry suspects sabotage, as the explosions began in several places. Similar events at military bases have occurred in the past (see September 27, 2017).
Solar energy at Chernobyl
A new solar power plant built right next to the wrecked Chernobyl nuclear power plant will be commissioned and connected to the national grid. The German-Ukrainian cooperation project produces enough electricity to meet the needs of a smaller society, about 2,000 households, but over time it is hoped that it will be able to produce hundreds of times. The land around the Chernobyl plant, where the solar panels are located, must not be used for agriculture as a result of the radioactive radiation since the 1986 nuclear disaster.
Director gives up hunger strike
Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who is sentenced to prison in Russia for terrorism, gives up his hunger strike to avoid being subjected to forced feeding. He is in poor condition after refusing food for 145 days. The Russian Prison Service tells the Interfax news agency that he is receiving medical care (see July 2).
Resignation of Hungarian speakers in Ukraine
Ukraine calls on the Hungarian Consul in Berehove to leave the country. The city consul, whom Hungarian speakers call Beregszász, is accused of issuing passports to ethnic Hungarians who are Ukrainian citizens. Ukrainian law does not allow dual citizenship. On the Hungarian side, it is claimed that extremists in Ukraine threaten ethnic Hungarians, and that the Kiev government is acting to create tensions.
Increased ship barriers at Russian Krimbro
Vessels to and from Ukrainian ports on the Azovsk Lake – a secondary to the Black Sea – must then pass through Russia’s annexed Crimean Peninsula through a sound surrounded by Russian-controlled territory. Ukraine is now accusing Russia of disrupting civilian ship traffic and both parties are strengthening their military presence. Russia has built a bridge across the strait to Crimea (see May 4, 2018), and the size of ships that can pass has been limited. The vessels are also controlled by Russian personnel, with long waiting times as a result. The ports of Mariupol and Berdjansk, where the disruption is most noticeable, are important for Ukraine’s industrial exports.
Proposals for “agents”
In a speech before Parliament, President Poroshenko supported a disputed bill: that proriginal groups in Ukraine should be forced to register as “foreign agents”. It is a model that Russia applies to foreign organizations and human rights organizations believe it is a bad idea to take over the method, but Poroshenko refers to the fact that Prorian groups are spreading propaganda against both Ukraine and the Western world. The bill has been tabled by the People’s Front, which is one of the largest parties in the government coalition.
The Russian language is banned in Lviv
The Lviv regional parliament bans the use of the Russian language in culture of all kinds, such as books and music. The ban will apply until the Russian occupation ends, it is said, a reference to the Russian entry into the Crimean Peninsula and the separatist uprising in southeastern Ukraine. The decision in Lviv is being questioned on a broad front, even within the Ukrainian government party, and it is not believed possible to monitor that it is being followed. Russian is used by many people in Ukraine, including writers and film directors. At the national level, however, Ukraine stops films that glorify the Russian military, and artists who commemorate the Russian takeover of Crimea must not enter the country.
Frosty between Orthodox churches
The Russian Orthodox Church restricts its links with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeus I, who, with Istanbul as the seat, leads other Orthodox Christians. The message means, among other things, that the church in Russia will not attend bishop’s meetings or joint services. The quandary stems from the conflict in Ukraine, where the Orthodox Christians are divided. The Patriarch has received a request from Ukraine to freeze relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, but he has not taken a stand on it yet. The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is politically allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is believed to want to prevent Western-friendly Ukraine from becoming an independent church.
New billion loan from the EU
The EU will agree with Ukraine to lend EUR 1 billion so that it can implement planned reforms. The new billion comes on top of the € 1.2 billion that the EU has lent to Ukraine since 2015 to enable the government to deal with the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the separatist uprising in the east. In 2017, however, the EU held 600 million, as Ukraine was not considered to have made sufficient progress, including when it came to curbing corruption. The decision on the new loan was made after Kiev established an anti-corruption court in June 2018.
Separatist leader murdered in bombing
Separatist leader Alexandr Zacharchenko is killed when a bomb explodes in a cafe in Donetsk. Zacharchenko was president of the outbreak state “People’s Republic of Donetsk” which the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine established in 2014. Moscow blames the bombing on the Kiev government, which in turn presents the theory that Zacharchenko fell victim to an internal power struggle among the separatists.
Defense spending is increasing
Olexander Turtynov, chairman of the National Security Council, announces that robotic systems and armored vehicles are among the priorities when Ukraine strengthens its defense force. Ukraine has stipulated in law that repository spending must amount to at least five percent of GDP and is expected to increase in practice in the coming years. President Poroshenko has promised that soldiers’ salaries will be increased by 30 percent in 2019. The fleet will also be strengthened, the Mykolaiv shipyard – the only one that can build warships – is expected to receive orders for new corvettes.
Struggle despite ceasefire
Five Ukrainian soldiers die and seven wounded in fighting against separatists. Four of the soldiers lose their lives in a clash in the Luhansk region, where rebels, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense with artillery fire, have tried to take over posts. As recently as the day before, the latest in a series of time-limited ceasefires that have been seen over a longer period of time have reduced the combat operations.
Ukraine risk land for measles
21th of August
The World Health Organization is concerned that measles continues to spread in Europe. In particular, the situation in Ukraine worries WHO as a relatively small proportion of the population is vaccinated: 23,000 cases were registered during the first half of the year and eight people died. Across Europe, 41,000 cases were detected and at least 37 infected died.
Adversity in the WTO for Ukraine
Ukraine loses the lion’s share of a dispute against Russia settled in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The dispute has been about railway equipment, exports that previously provided Ukraine with good income. The dispute is one of several between the countries torn by international bodies during the years when a separatist uprising with support from Moscow in eastern Ukraine and Russia has kept the Crimean peninsula annexed.
Turkish security service acts abroad
The Turkish security service MIT has arrested two opponents of President Erdoğan, one in Azerbaijan and the other in Ukraine. Both have been brought to their home country designated as supporters of the Gülen movement, which is accused of the coup attempt against the president in 2016, reports the news agency Anatolia. When MIT carried out such an action in Kosovo in March, it led to a management crisis in Kosovo. In April, Turkish authorities stated that 80 Gülenists were brought home similarly. This has also happened from countries in Africa.
Laws that curbed EU cooperation are repealed
A Dutch law that had consequences for EU-Ukraine cooperation is abolished; a majority of the Dutch Senate voted in favor of the law. It was part of a campaign to demand binding referendums and in 2016, euro skeptics got the Dutch to vote no to an EU-Ukraine cooperation agreement (see April 6, 2016). The Netherlands was just at the time of the EU Presidency, and the no in the referendum led to the renegotiation of cooperation with Ukraine. Among other things, the EU’s military commitment was limited in support of Ukraine.
US Criminal sanctions remain
The United States will not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the US sanctions against Russia will remain as long as Russian forces are not withdrawn, says the White House. The question has been raised following a summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, scheduled for July 16.
Hunger strike for prisoners in Russia
The condition is described as serious for Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, sentenced to prison in Russia on terror charges, which have been starving for 50 days. Sentsov demands that all political prisoners from Ukraine be released. He was arrested on the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and is serving the sentence at a remote location in Russia. The Ukrainian government has announced that it is ready to release 23 Russian prisoners in exchange for Ukrainians being detained in Russia.
Arm rest for harvest chores
A ceasefire between Ukraine’s army and Russian separatist forces in the east will enter into force on July 1, announces Ukraine’s negotiating delegation according to AFP. The ceasefire is justified by the imminent harvest period in agriculture. No end date is specified.
A corruption court is set up, but the minister is allowed to go
Decides to set up a corruption court, which has been a stubborn demand from Western countries to provide Ukraine with continued financial support; But shortly after, Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyljuk gets fired, also through a parliamentary decision and on Prime Minister Volodymyr Hrojsman’s proposal. Danyljuk, who has played a central role in negotiations with the IMF, claims that he has been under pressure to approve grants for regional projects that leading politicians want to support. Danyljuk also claims that in practice it is about unscrupulous voting, a corrupt procedure that in popular mouth is called “buckwheat”.
Ground fire near Chernobyl
A grass fire breaks out in the radioactive zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which failed in 1986. It burns less than a mile from the plant, in the area that has been canceled for the public. The fire is spreading to nearby forests, but the government and security officials in the area say that firefighters have the situation under control. After three days, the fire is reported to be extinguished. Chernobyl is located about ten kilometers north of the capital Kiev.
Baltic sea pipelines become bat in gas funnel
A new step is taken in the guest dispute with Russia when state-owned Ukrainian Naftogaz acts to seize Russian shares in the Baltic Sea project Nord Stream. Naftogaz, which relies on an arbitration award announced in Stockholm in February, has appealed to the Swiss authorities with its request, which is directed at Russian energy giant Gazprom. The Nord Stream consortium is registered in Switzerland, with Gazprom as the majority owner, to build two pipelines through the Baltic Sea. The lines allow Russian gas exports to Western Europe without Ukrainian intermediaries.
Plot around the Kremlin critic in Kiev
The Kremlin-critical journalist and writer Arkadij Babchenko, who was reportedly murdered at his residence in Kiev a day earlier, is appearing before the media. Babchenko is a Russian citizen but lives in exile because he feels threatened. The Ukrainian security service SBU claims that he lived for a time during a conspicuous murder threat and that this is the reason why a murder of him was staged. War experience from the Russian wars against separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s prompted Babchenko to start writing. In 2015 he was awarded the Tucholsky Prize by Swedish PEN. The Russian government is now accusing Ukraine of using Babchenko for propaganda purposes.
Russian robot hit Malaysian plane
24th of May
The expert group investigating the shooting of a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine 2014 has drawn conclusions about the origin of the robot. According to Dutch investigative leader Wilbert Paulissen, the robot came from an anti-aircraft brigade based in Russian Kursk. Investigators say they have succeeded in using images to illustrate how the robotic system was carried on a vehicle column to the Ukrainian side of the border, where Prorian rebels operate. All the 298 aboard lost their lives when the MH17 was shot down on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam. Russia rejects investigators’ conclusions.
New violence stop in the east
The violence in the east between Russian-backed rebels and Ukraine’s army has resulted in ten casualties in five days. A series of ceasefires have otherwise kept the unrest at a lower level for a long time, but now both sides confirm that the fighting actions have increased again. In the industrial city of Gorlivka, located in one of the two separatist caves, civilians have been injured by grenade fire.
Raid against Russian news agency
15th of May
Ukrainian authorities are conducting searches in the state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti’s premises in Kiev. An employee who is both Russian and Ukrainian citizen is arrested. He is accused by the Ukrainian authorities of treason for his way of reporting on Russia’s annexation of Crimea. A week later, the news agency is banned from operating in Ukraine. The ban is valid for three years.
EU sanctions for Russian elections
The Crimean Peninsula’s participation in the Russian presidential elections in March 2018 leads to the EU extending its sanctions list, which already includes 150 people. Now travel bans are introduced and assets are also frozen for five managers in the electoral authorities that organized elections in Crimea.
Penalty violations are suspected at bridge construction
Seven Dutch companies are suspected of breaking EU sanctions by helping Russia build a bridge to the Crimean Peninsula. A criminal investigation against the companies has been initiated in the Netherlands, where the customs, under the prosecutor’s office, are reviewing their proceedings. Top executives in the Dutch companies are also suspicious. The 19-kilometer bridge to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, will be inaugurated by President Vladimir Putin on May 15.
Ukrainian fears slow down Baltic Sea management
Underwater pipeline Nord Stream 2 through the Baltic Sea for gas deliveries to Germany from Russia cannot be built unless Ukraine’s role for land transit supplies is first clarified, says Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks with President Petro Poroshenko. Earlier, Merkel has called the gas pipeline “an all-round economic project”, now she says that political considerations must be taken into account – Ukraine’s need for continued revenue. Ukraine’s transit contract with Russian energy giant Gazprom expires in 2019.
Russian diplomats are expelled
Ukraine expels 13 Russian diplomats as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. President Poroshenko stresses that Ukraine’s diplomatic relations with Moscow have in practice been frozen since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, but there will also be staff after the expulsions at the Russian Embassy in Kiev and the consulates in Odessa, Kharkiv and Lviv. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and threatens with countermeasures.
Russian elections are also being conducted in Crimea
Russia holds presidential elections and the elections are also held on the Crimean Peninsula, four years after the area was annexed. Ukraine refuses in protest to allow Russian citizens of Ukraine to vote on Russian missions, and Ukrainian nationalists block places that under normal circumstances would have been polling stations for foreigners. France announces its intention not to recognize the part of the elections that take place in Crimea.
Putin speaking in Crimea
14th of March
Vladimir Putin is speaking in Sevastopol, the naval base on the southern tip of the Crimean Peninsula. He thanks the Crimean people who voted in a “referendum” in March 2014 on accession to Russia. The speech lasts for less than two minutes, but Putin calls the cold vote “real democracy” and praises the fact that Crimea and Sevastopol are back “where they belong”.
Putin: Crimea remains Russian
11th of March
In a documentary sent a week before the presidential election in Russia, Vladimir Putin says that the Crimean Peninsula will never be returned to Ukraine. “Under no circumstances,” is Putin’s answer in an interview produced by his campaign staff and broadcast through a follower’s social media accounts.
Riot during demonstration
About ten people are injured and at least 50 are arrested in a riot in connection with a demonstration in front of the parliament in Kiev. Protesters, who according to AFP are supporters of deported politician Micheil Saakashvili, hold repeated protests and demand the resignation of President Poroshenko.
Captured soldiers are exchanged
Ukraine and Russia conduct a prisoner exchange. Authorities in both countries confirm that two soldiers from each side have been exchanged.
Ready for robot business
Exports of an anti-armor system to Ukraine have received their formal approval, states the US State Department. Among other things, there are 210 Javelin-type anti-tank robots. The deal, valued at $ 47 million, is expected to worry the Moscow government, as Ukraine’s army is fighting Russian-backed forces in separatist-controlled areas in the east. Deliveries from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are expected to begin within a few months.
New battle apple in the gas funnel
Russian energy giant Gazprom refuses to resume gas supplies to Ukraine, which should have begun on March 1, citing contractual uncertainty. Deliveries have been down since November 2015, while the parties have started a dispute over the price. The European Commission is ready to mediate. In Ukraine, as in large parts of Europe, there is unusually severe winter cold.
New decision in gas stays
Yet another element of a complicated dispute between Ukraine and Russia has been torn down by the arbitral tribunal in Stockholm. Russian Gazprom has been ordered to pay $ 4.63 billion in transit charges for gas deliveries through Ukraine, Ukrainian sources said, according to AFP. The net would amount to just over SEK 2.5 billion, as an earlier ruling, on the contrary, obliges Ukrainian Naftogaz to pay SEK 2 billion to the Russian energy giant. Ukraine proclaims victory despite only some of the Ukrainian demands being supported. The arbitral tribunal’s ruling is not public.
Ukraine-lobbying part in charges against Trump-man
European politicians were paid to lobby Ukraine, including the United States, and it happened when Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych was president. Officially, lobbyists were portrayed as independent judges. The indictments appear in a lawsuit filed in Washington against Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Commons. The FBI is investigating both possible Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election and whether people in Trump’s vicinity have had inappropriate Russian contacts. As for Manafort’s mission for Yanukovych, investigators suspect money laundering, bank fraud and tax fraud. Manafort’s mission ended when Yanukovych was forced out of power and exiled in Russia, after which he was tied to Trump’s campaign staff.
Better planning for vaccines
The spread of measles has forced measures. Ukraine introduces UN standard for vaccine planning, the Ministry of Health announces. Among other things, one should be based on population statistics to improve the outlook, ensure that vaccines are in stock, prioritize risk groups and move away from manual methods when compiling the needs.
Saakashvili thrown out
Georgia’s former President Micheil Saakashvili is deported from Ukraine to Poland. After a political career as governor of Odessa, as contentious as his presidency in his home country, he is disgusted with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and has tried to take on a role of opposition leader. Now he is stateless because both Georgia and Ukraine deprived him of citizenship. He is deported to Poland because it was from there that he last entered Ukraine, but later moves on to the Netherlands where his wife and children are citizens.
Polish law upsets Ukraine
Ukraine is one of several countries upset by the fact that Poland has adopted a law protecting the image of Poland during the Second World War. While it becomes illegal to designate Poles as accomplices to the Holocaust, Ukrainians can be accused of war crimes. In Polish history writing, Ukrainians are held responsible for ethnic cleansing aimed at Poles. President Poroshenko says via Facebook that he is concerned about the law, which comes into force when it is signed a few days later by Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Prison for Russian soldier
Russian citizen Viktor Agejev, 22, has been sentenced to ten years in prison for fighting the Ukrainian army in the Luhansk separatist republic, his lawyer told news media. He was captured in June and shortly afterwards told media outlets that he was sent to Ukraine by the Russian army, despite Russian authorities denying that Russians fighting in Ukraine do so at the command of the state. Agejev is said to have taken back his information that he was an army employee.
Penalties for turbines
US imposes sanctions on Russian officials (21 people and nine companies) who sent power plant turbines to Crimea. The turbines were delivered by Russian Siemens to Russia, but the company says they did not know that they would be forwarded to the disputed Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. “Ministers” in the breakaway republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine are also subject to sanctions.
Now rebel occupation in law
Ukraine’s parliament officially classifies the fighting in the east between government forces and Moscow-friendly separatists as a “temporary Russian occupation”. The law also means that the army, not the security service, is given responsibility for how the conflict is handled. Formulations accusing Russia of “aggression” are rejected by the Russian side, despite reports showing that both weapons and personnel were carried across the border. The Russian Foreign Ministry describes the position Ukraine is now pronouncing as “preparation for a new war”.
Campaign against measles
A five-year-old and one adult have died in measles this past week, health authorities say. Since the turn of the year, 1,275 cases have been detected, compared to 4,782 during the whole of last year. 2017, as far as you know, five people died, including three children, all in the Odessa area. Now a vaccination campaign is in progress and the school holidays have been extended to prevent the spread of infection.
Millions without mobile
Nearly two million people in eastern Ukraine are without functioning cellular networks as a result of a cable breach at the largest operator. Vodafone Ukraine cannot state when the network will work again because the conflicting parties do not guarantee the safety of the repairers. In the Luhansk and Donetsk separatists, where the network went down on January 11, it is claimed that the Kiev government is waging an information war against the population. There are two smaller network operators left, but they have difficulty coping with increased traffic, notes the news agency AFP.
New year, new fallen
Three Ukrainian soldiers have fallen for the last 24 hours in fighting against separatists in the east. According to President Poroshenko, a total of more than 2,750 soldiers in the government army have been killed since the separatist revolt erupted in spring 2014.
UN Force Initiative
Germany is working to secure a UN peacekeeping force for eastern Ukraine before the Russian presidential election in March, says Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. According to Germany, the UN should be allowed to monitor the entire conflict area in the east. According to AFP, the Russian news agency has so far only been ready to support an effort along front lines, and absolutely no action at Russia’s border with the parts of Ukraine held by Moscow-friendly separatists.
Murder of activist riots
Human rights activist and lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska is found murdered in a river near Kiev. Nozdrovska had played a driving role in getting Dmytryj Rossosjanskyj, the nephew of a judge, convicted of drug-trafficking to have killed her sister in 2015. He was sentenced in 2017 to seven years in prison, but has appealed. According to a witness, Father J urij Rossojanskyj recently threatened Nozdrovska in a court hearing. The case has been seen as a test of the judiciary’s ability to handle charges that affect the country’s elite. Over 100 people gather outside a Kiev police station and demand an independent murder investigation. Rossojanskyj is later arrested for 60 days.