As Russia actually do launch an invasion or “special operation” in Ukraine, we thought now was a good time to recap on how we got here.
The historical, political and ethnic divisions in Ukraine go back decades, if not centuries, but we don’t have the space for that kind of deep-dive. For now, we’ll be keeping it to three simple parts: The fall of Viktor Yanukovych, the Crimean referendum, and the ensuing civil war which puts the region in a direct path to the events of today.
Much like our 30 Facts on Covid, this piece is intended as a quick reference guide to help get friends and family up to speed on the recent history of Ukraine, a handy index of contemporary sources, or a refresher course for those who’ve forgotten the details.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, multiple Western leaders give both written and spoken assurances to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO does not plan to increase its territory eastwards.
To quote US Secretary of State James Baker:
not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”