By Gregor Bauer
21 February Due to the ongoing Euromaidan violence in Kiev, sections of the Crimean parliament called a meeting of their house in order to pass a resolution asking the Russian President Vladimir Putin for help against the protesters. Though non-parliamentary, Crimean Tatars prevent the discussion from taking place by threatening to occupy the Crimean parliament.
22 February After the violent escalation of the conflict in Kiev the speaker of parliament Volodymyr Rybak is replaced through parliament’s vote by a member of Timoschenko’s fatherland party, Oleksandr Turchynov, and – with no counter-vote – Yanukovych becomes deselected as president. New presidential elections are determined for 25 May 2014.
23 February The newly elected speaker of the parliament, Turchynov, is also declared interim president. The secretary of foreign affairs, Leonid Koschara, is disposed.
The parliament also followed a request of the nationalist party Swoboda to declare a law as invalid which allowed regions to establish several official languages if more than 10% of it’s inhabitants speak a different language other than the official language.
The validation of this law would void the Russian and Tatar languages as official languages in the Crimea but is vetoed by interim president Turchynov. Protests against the parliament’s vote and the pro-European agenda of the new government rise on the peninsula.
Russian media, which is also recieved in Crimea, claims a threat to the Crimeans by Maidan ‘fascists’. The Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev states that Russian interests are at threat due to the developments in Ukraine. He hereby includes that ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine to be under threat.
26 February Near the Crimean parliament a conflict between pro-Russian protesters and supporters of the new government in Kiev leads to the deaths of two protesters and dozens of injuries on both sides.
27 February Armed pro-Russian ‘protesters’ storm the Crimean parliament. They claim an immediate decision for a referendum on Crimean independence or integration into the Russian Federation. The parliament declares Sergej Aksionov as the new Prime Minister of Crimea. He claims that any Ukrainian troops in Crimea are now under his command. Aksionov supports Yanukovych as the legitimate president of Ukraine. The interim cabinet in Kiev does not acknowledges Aksionov’s claim to be the new Prime Minister of Crimea. The Crimean parliament asks Russia for military support.
Parts of the special forces Berkut who were crucially engaged in the killing of Maidan-protesters are celebrated and welcomed back as heroes in several parts of Crimea. Publicly they ask for forgiveness as they weren’t able to stop the Maidan-protesters – who they label fascists – from seizing power.
Up to 2000 Russian soldiers arrive in Crimea.
During the night militarily armed soldier-like personnel storm the airport of Simferopol and occupy it for some hours.
28 February The Ukrainian parliament asks the UN Security Council for support against the Russian aggression in the Crimea.
1 March President Putin asks the Russian parliament to allow him to use military force in the territory of Ukraine which gets confirmed with no counter-vote.
2 March The head of the Crimean parliament states that the Crimea shall become an independent state. According to him this was the aim of the referendum, which was set for March 30th.
Pro-Russian forces surround Ukrainian military bases in Perewalne and Feodossijy. Russian military, without nationality marking, seize control over the whole of Crimea.
4 March Putin states that the soldiers that occupy the Crimea with Russian army arms and car plates were not Russian.
Interim president Turchynov puts all Ukrainian troops on standby.
Human Rights Watch identifies proof of (pro-) Russian forces who abuse and displace supporters of the Ukrainian government.
6 March The EU reacts with its first wave of sanctions: negotiations on further cooperation between EU and Russia as well as those on future Visa simplifications are cancelled.
The Russian military cruiser Otshakov is sunk by Russian forces in order to block the entrance of the Ukrainian military base Nowooseme.
7 March All signals from Ukrainian TV stations are turned off and partly replaced by Russian TV stations.
8 March The organisation Reporters Without Borders states that there was a strong increase in censorship in Crimea. In Russia, several anti-government blogs are blocked by the Russian administration.
Observers of the OSCE are hindered entering Crimea by (pro-)Russian groups who use firearms.
11 March In Ukraine several Russian TV stations are blocked by the government.
The Crimean parliament passes a Declaration of Independence before the referendum.
12 March Turchynov excludes Ukrainian military action in the Crimea due to the consequent exposure of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine launches its national guard.
The G7 declares that neither of their members will acknowledge the referendum as legal.
15 March The Russian Federation vetoes a resolution of the UN Security council which declares the Crimea referendum illegal.
16 March A referendum on the independence of Crimea from Ukraine is held. The Crimeans have the choice of further independence inside Ukraine or to join Russia. The status quo was not an option on the ballots.
According to official data published by the Crimean government 95% of voters voted to join Russia, Russian media later states this figure exceeded 97%. 82% voter participation is claimed. Many dissonances during the voting process are observable (see article: The Crimea Referendum is a Matter of Moral Legitimacy).
The manacled corpse of a pro Ukrainian activist is found in a forest near Bilohirsk. He was displaced by (pro-)Russian troops on 3rd March in Simferopol.
17 March The Crimean parliament decides:
- From 30 March Crimea will follow Moscow time.
- The Ruble is introduced in Crimea; The Ukrainian Hrywnja will not be accepted from January 2016
- Ukrainian oil- and gas companies get socialised
The EU passes a second round of sanctions. 21 people are listed who are henceforth not allowed entry in the EU and whose bank accounts are frozen.
18 March Russian and Crimean representatives sign a contract for Crimea to join the Russian Federation.
The Crimean government decides to take back the Tatars land as state property.
19 March Ukraine steps down from the presidency of the CIS as protest against the Russian invasion.
20 March The US sanction list is enlarged by several people and companies.
Russia publishes a sanction list against Americans who are henceforth forbidden entry into Russia.
US president Obama orders a sanction list against seven people. The US ministry of finances adds four more. Those are not allowed entry into the US, their bank accounts are frozen and it is henceforth forbidden for US-Americans to make business with the listed people.
Canada joins the US sanction list though excludes former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich.
21 March The OSCE decided to send up to 500 observers into Eastern Ukraine. Russia agrees but denies entry to Crimea.
EU and Ukrainian representants sign the political part of the Association Contract between the EU and Ukraine in Brussels.
12 more people are listed in the EU list of sanctions.
24 March Interim president of Ukraine Turchynov declares the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Crimea.
Russia publishes a sanction list against Canadians who are henceforth forbidden entry into Russia.
More and more Russian troops gather at the Eastern Ukraine border. The Ukrainian government fears a further invasion by Russia.