War in Ukraine 1

What Were the Key Events Leading Up to the Conflict in Ukraine?

By Joanne Cassar / 24. Sep 2023

The conflict in Ukraine, which has been ongoing since 2014, is a complex and multifaceted crisis that has had far-reaching implications for both Ukraine and the international community. Understanding the origins and key events that led to this conflict is crucial for grasping its underlying causes and potential solutions. In this blog post, we will delve into the history and key events that laid the groundwork for the conflict in Ukraine.

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Historical Context

To understand the conflict in Ukraine, we must first consider the historical context in which it unfolded. Ukraine, located in Eastern Europe, has a rich and tumultuous history. Throughout the centuries, it has been under the rule of various empires, including the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Soviet Union. Ukraine's history is marked by a constant struggle for national identity and independence.

Ukrainian Independence (1991)

The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a pivotal moment in Ukraine's history. After nearly seven decades of Soviet rule, Ukraine declared its independence. This newfound sovereignty marked the beginning of a challenging journey towards nation-building.

Economic and Political Challenges (1990s-early 2000s)

In the years following independence, Ukraine faced significant economic and political challenges. Corruption was widespread, and economic reforms were slow to materialize. This period of instability laid the groundwork for future political and social tensions.

The Orange Revolution (2004-2005)

One of the key events leading up to the conflict was the Orange Revolution. In 2004, a disputed presidential election led to mass protests and allegations of electoral fraud. The protests, known as the Orange Revolution, ultimately led to a rerun of the election and the victory of Viktor Yushchenko, seen as a pro-Western leader.

Yanukovych's Presidency (2010-2014)

In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian candidate, was elected president. His presidency marked a shift towards closer ties with Russia and away from the European Union. This move was met with widespread opposition from Ukrainians who aspired to closer integration with Europe.

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Key Events Leading to Conflict

  • Decision to Abandon EU Association Agreement (2013)

One of the pivotal moments that triggered the conflict occurred in late 2013 when Yanukovych's government decided to abandon an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. This decision sparked widespread protests in Ukraine, known as the Euromaidan movement.

  • Euromaidan Protests (2013-2014)

The Euromaidan protests, which began in late 2013, were a mass movement demanding democratic reforms, an end to corruption, and closer ties with the EU. The protests escalated into violent clashes with the police, resulting in many casualties.

  • Russian Annexation of Crimea (2014)

The most significant turning point in the conflict occurred when Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014. This move was met with international condemnation and triggered a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.

  • Eastern Ukraine Conflict (2014-present)

Following the annexation of Crimea, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared independence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This led to an ongoing conflict between Ukrainian government forces and separatist militias. The conflict has resulted in thousands of deaths and displacement of civilians.


The conflict in Ukraine is a complex and multifaceted crisis with deep historical roots. It is essential to understand the historical context and key events that led to this conflict to grasp its complexity fully. The struggle for national identity, political instability, and geopolitical factors all played a role in shaping the conflict. Today, efforts to find a peaceful resolution continue, with international diplomacy playing a crucial role in seeking an end to the violence and a path towards stability for Ukraine.