+380 is the dialing code for Ukraine.
Ukraine became independent in 1991, but the liberation from the Soviet Union was difficult and the country has been characterized by a period of authoritarian and constantly corrupt rule with strong inherent contradictions. A 2014 revolution brought Ukraine on a collision course with Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula and staged an armed uprising in the country’s eastern parts. The threat from Russia has given Ukraine strong support from the EU and the US, but continued corruption may cause the support to fail.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Ukraine, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Ukraine is one third larger than Sweden and Europe’s second largest state after Russia. Part of the country, the Crimean Peninsula, which is almost as large as Småland, has been disputed and controlled by Russia since 2014. The country is located in the southern part of the Eastern European plain and consists largely of extensive steppe lands. Ukraine has the south coast towards the Black Sea and its seafront Azovska Lake.
The landscape still has some variation; the plains are broken by highland areas that extend into a belt from the northwest to the southeast. The cultivated steppes around the Dnieper River (Dnipro in Ukrainian) are among Europe’s best agricultural lands. The Dnieper, one of Europe’s longest rivers, flows straight through the country from north to south and flows into the Black Sea. Dnestr (Dnister) flows up into the Carpathian mountain range near the border with Poland and passes Moldova before it opens near Odessa on the Black Sea coast.
In the northwest, a large area of forest and swamp is spreading. Actual mountain ranges are found only on the outskirts of the country, partly to the west, where the Carpathians reach 2,000 meters above sea level, and partly to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea at the far south.
|Cultivated land||71.2 %|
|Land area||603550 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||-0.6 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||59.7 %|
|Death rate||14.46 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||76.63 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||66.81 years|
|Birth rate||10.72 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||8.12 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||187100 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per inhabitant||2690.3 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||19900 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||million tons|
|Internet users||37.5 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||136 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||173 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||9.5% of the workforce|
|GDP||7500 per resident|
|Primary occupations||5.6 %|
|Secondary profession||26 %|
|Tertiary professions||68.4 %|
Most of Ukraine has a typical inland climate with cold winters and hot summers.
In the west, warm, humid winds from the Atlantic are affecting the climate, which there is slightly milder in winters than in the eastern regions. The southern part of Crimea has a subtropical climate.
The rainfall is uneven and mostly falls during the warm part of the year. Most rain and snow get the Carpathian mountain range, while it is relatively dry on the Black Sea coast and in Crimea.
603,700 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova
Capital with number of residents
Kiev 2,762,000 (Sources: Allcitypopulation.com)
Other major cities
Kharkiv 1.5 million, Dnipropetrovsk 1 million, Donetsk 980,000, Odessa (Odesa) 980,000 (2012 estimate)
Hoverla (in the Carpathians, 2061 m asl)
Dnieper (Dnipro), Danube, Dnestr (Dnister), Southern Bug, Northern Donets
Large prison exchange in Ukraine
A prisoner exchange takes place between Ukraine and Moscow-friendly rebels. Around 230 rebels and rebel supporters are released by Ukraine, while Russian-backed militia hand over 70 prisoners to Ukrainian authorities. The number is lower than the parties have previously agreed.
Military support from the United States
The United States will strengthen Ukraine’s defense with, among other things, anti-armor robots, states the US Department of Foreign Affairs, which values the support at $ 47 million.
Dispute on gas settled
Both Ukraine and Russia claim that they won a dispute based on energy contracts from 2009. The Stockholm Arbitration Court lowers the price Russia may charge for gas supplies, but also maintains an obligation for Ukraine to buy gas from Russia.
Minor great danger to children
About 220,000 children are at risk of being damaged by mines as a result of the conflict between Ukraine’s army and the Russian-backed rebels, says the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, which calls on all parties to stop using mines. On average, a child is injured every week at the front sections (a total of about 50 miles), according to the report based on data from January to November.
Accounts in Switzerland are kept frozen
Assets in Switzerland that are in the name of former President Viktor Yanukovych will be kept “frozen” for another year, Swiss authorities say. The original decision was made when revolution broke out in Ukraine in 2014 and Yanukovych was deposed.
Tatars in court
Russian authorities in Crimea bring 86 Tatars to justice for protests against the takeover of Crimea. The Crimea are Turkish-speaking Muslims who were deported in large numbers under the Stalin dictatorship. Many returned after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, when Ukraine (with Crimea) became independent. Tatars who recently objected to the Russian annexation of Crimea have been fined, despite having carried out their manifestations one by one, which does not require permission under Russian law.
Russian supervisors are taken home
Since 2014, the Russian and Ukrainian military have been tasked with guarding an agreed ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry is now announcing that Russian observers should leave the station, which is close to the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, but in an area controlled by the Ukrainian government. In Ukraine, fears are raised to intensify the conflict.
The EU extends sanctions
EU leaders have decided to extend sanctions on Russia for another six months. The sanctions were imposed following the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014. Prorian rebels are held responsible for the shooting, which claimed 298 lives and, according to investigators, was made with a Russian-made robot. Russia’s annexation of Crimea the same year also led to EU sanctions.
Reconciliation meeting with Poland
13th of December
Polish President Andrzej Duda visits Petro Poroshenko and the two presidents agree to try to curb a dispute over massacres committed during World War II, when Ukrainian and Polish forces fought each other. The insanity has recently been raised in the parliaments and has resulted in the demolition of historical monuments. The issue of opening graves to identify the victims of the massacres is sensitive. (See Poland: Calendar.)
Riot around Saakashvili
Politician Micheil Saakashvili is arrested by police but acquitted by supporters in Kiev. A few turbulent days later, a court decides that he may be on the loose during further investigation. Saakashvili, who after becoming president of Georgia became governor of Ukraine and has pursued Moscow-critical politics in both countries, is now at odds with the Ukrainian leadership. He risks five years in prison, designated for cooperation with Prorian actors in Ukraine. He may also be extradited to Georgia, where he is charged with abuse of power. He himself claims that all charges are politically based, not legal.
EU support is withheld
The EU announces that payments of EUR 600 million have been withheld, as Ukraine has not fulfilled its commitments in, inter alia, anti-corruption measures. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also chosen not to carry out more than part of its support payments. As a result, Ukraine is slowing down the vote on a controversial bill because it would give the government power to replace the country’s new anti-corruption authority.
Internal division among separatists
Severe internal contradictions divide separatists. The leader of the Luhansk separatist republic, Igor Plotnitsky, leaves after a turbulent week and heads to Moscow. Five Ukrainian soldiers and eight rebels are reported killed in fighting. The Ukrainian government accuses Russia of expanding its military support to separatists. Representatives of the EU and six former Soviet republics meet simultaneously in Brussels. The EU promises deeper cooperation with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The EU does not place a view on membership of the Union, on the other hand, help fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law and modernize the countries’ economy.
Suspected of Moscow murder arrested
The security service SBU claims to have arrested a Russian citizen who had been wanted via Interpol for the murder of a journalist. Paul Klebnikov, US citizen and director of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was shot dead in Moscow in 2004. In Ukraine, the suspected killer must have committed extortion against entrepreneurs.
New Christmas weekend in December
Ukraine’s parliament votes for December 25 to become a national holiday. Most of the residents are Orthodox Christians and, as has been the case in Russia, have celebrated Christmas in early January. January 7 remains a holiday in Ukraine.
Prison exchange is being prepared
Russian President Vladimir Putin promises to speak to the Moscow-friendly rebels’ leaders in eastern Ukraine to facilitate a prisoner exchange. The Ukrainian government says it is ready to exchange 306 captured separatists with 152 soldiers or Proukran militia who are being held captive in the east. The last two sides of the conflict exchanged prisoners were 2016. The Kremlin confirms that Putin has been in contact with leaders of the separatists’ self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Concerns for mercenaries
Serbia calls home its ambassador to Kiev for consultations. The Ukrainian government has voiced concerns that some 300 Serbian mercenaries are in conflict with Prorian separatists in Ukraine. “Serbia respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” declares the Serbian Foreign Minister. Serbia seeks EU membership but has not, like the EU, imposed sanctions on Russia as a result of events in Ukraine.
New hold for UN force
Canada is taking new initiatives to send the UN a peacekeeping force to Ukraine. Several attempts have been made in the past. They have come to the conclusion that Russia, which has a veto right in the UN Security Council, only wanted to accept a small UN force to protect international observers in the conflict area.
Water and electricity plants in danger
Waterworks, power plants and other infrastructure risk being knocked out by fighting in eastern Ukraine between Prorean separatists and the Ukrainian government army. Among other things, there are two waterworks, where the UN also monitors chlorine gas emissions, at front lines. Over one million households can be left without clean water if the facilities are damaged.
Corruption scare against mayor
Corruption investigators are doing the house search of Odessa Mayor Hennadij Truchanov. Both his home and office are searched. He is suspected of having wasted money that would have been used to repair a highway and to have granted loans that have mysteriously disappeared. Former Odessa Governor Micheil Saakashvili singled out Truchanov as a local mafia leader before resigning in frustration over the difficulties of curbing corruption.
Poroshenko promises special court against corruption
In a remission to the protesters outside Parliament, President Poroshenko promises to create a special court for corruption cases that both they and the Western powers call for. He says he expects to be able to sign a law on this before the end of the year.
Small partial victory for protesters
Protesters who have opened a tent camp outside the parliament in Kiev consider themselves to have won a small part victory when members submit a bill to lift the legal immunity of the elected officials to the Constitutional Court for review. On the same day, the European Court of Justice announces that the financial sanctions against former President Viktor Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr are firm. The Court rejects their protest that the European Council has frozen their assets.
Increasing protests against Poroshenko
At least 5,000 people are participating in a demonstration in Kiev against the lack of reforms under President Poroshenko. One of the speakers at the demonstration is former Georgian President Saakashvili, who demands that Poroshenko resign because “the fight against corruption is impossible” as long as he remains. The protests are led by Saakashvili’s party The New Forces movement, together with, among others, Julia Tymoshenko’s Motherland and the Party of Self-Confidence. The protesters put forward three demands: that MPs be deprived of their legal immunity so that they can be prosecuted in cases of corruption, that a special court for corruption cases be set up and that the electoral system be changed so that independent candidates can be easily elected in parliament. Poroshenko says that a bill on expired immunity should be presented and be effective in 2020,
Russian banknote is prohibited
Danmarks Nationalbank announces that a new Russian banknote worth 200 rubles (almost SEK 30) may not be exchanged for Ukrainian banks or exchange offices. The reason is that the banknote is adorned with motifs from the annexed Ukrainian peninsula Crimea.
Prison for dissident in Crimea
Ilmi Umerov, former vice-president of the now dissolved unofficial parliaments of the Crimean Tatars, is sentenced to two years in prison for separatism. According to prosecutors, he made statements that undermined Russia’s cohesion by demanding in an interview that Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula be stopped.
30,000 are evacuated after an explosion in the weapons stockpile
One of Ukraine’s largest weapons stockpiles catches fire and explodes, forcing more than 30,000 people to leave their homes. A similar explosion occurred in another military arms stockpile in March. A source at the Ukrainian Security Service says that the loss of ammunition in both explosions has been the major setback to the army’s combat capability since the conflict in the east erupted in 2014.
Disputed language law takes effect
President Poroshenko signs a law that all school education from grades five and up should be only in Ukrainian from 2020. Teaching in minority languages can be done by elective. The law has raised concerns in several neighboring countries, including Romania, where President Iohannis earlier in September suspended a planned visit to Ukraine in protest of the language law. Russian authorities accuse Ukraine of wanting to marginalize the large Russian-speaking group in the country’s eastern parts.
UN: Serious human rights violations in Crimea under Russian rule
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights writes in a report that representatives of the Russian state have committed serious abuses against civilians in Crimea since the Ukrainian peninsula was annexed by Russia. Among other things, torture occurs according to the report, which claims that conditions on the peninsula have deteriorated significantly under Russian rule. The report criticizes the judiciary, which does not give suspects fair justice, and the deportation of hundreds of prisoners to Russian prisons. Public employees are reported to be laid off if they do not renounce their Ukrainian citizenship. According to the report, tens of thousands of residents who have not been approved as Russian citizens have become stateless, resulting in severely limited rights in everyday life.
Crimean Tatar leader is imprisoned
A court in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea sentenced one of the most prominent Crimean Tatar leaders to prison for eight years. Achtem Tjijgoz, who is the vice-president of the Prohibited Tatar Political Assembly, is convicted of organizing an illegal demonstration in February 2014. Civil rights movements describe the trial as part of an ongoing Russian campaign against Crimean residents who opposed the Russian takeover.
Saakashvili back in Ukraine
Former Odessa Governor Micheil Saakashvili, with the help of thousands of supporters, is able to get into Ukraine from Poland by pushing away the Ukrainian border guards. He then proceeds to Lviv, where he says he intends to fight to regain his citizenship. The Ukrainian government, which has tried to prevent Saakashvili’s return to the country, says those who helped him cross the border will be punished. Eleven police officers and five border guards are reported to have been injured in the riot at the border station.
Georgia requests Saakashvili to be extradited
The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has asked former President Saakashvili to be extradited from Ukraine, to which he has said he plans to return later in September. Saakashvili is prosecuted in his former homeland for, among other things, abuse of power.
EU agreement in force
Just over three years after the signing, Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU formally enters into force. The delay is due to a majority of participants in a referendum in the Netherlands saying no to the agreement in April 2016. After that, the Dutch government negotiated an agreement with the other EU countries that the agreement should not guarantee Ukraine a future membership of the Union and not nor provide guarantees of military support. Both chambers of the Dutch Parliament subsequently signed the agreement in June 2017. Parts of the agreement have been applied in practice since 2014.
Russian reporter expelled
Despite criticism from the European Security and Cooperation Organization OSCE, the Ukrainian security service shows the Russian reporter Anna Kurbatova. She works for Russian Russian TV and is accused of spreading propaganda by describing the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a “civil war”, not a “Russian aggression”. Kurbatova is the second Russian reporter to be deported in August. Since 2014, about ten Russian TV channels have been banned from operating in Ukraine.
Armistice immediately breaks
Ukraine’s army and separatists accuse each other of breaking the latest in a series of ceasefires, just hours after the weapons were silenced. An agreement on a new ceasefire was concluded at a meeting with the International Contact Group for Ukraine a few days earlier.
The United States strengthens Ukraine’s defense
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said during a visit to Kiev that the United States should continue to support the Ukrainian defense. The Washington government recently approved military equipment supplies for US $ 175 million, and a total of US $ 750 million since 2015. However, there have been no deliveries of offensive weapons. Mattis also says sanctions against Russia will remain until Russia stops supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and leaves Crimea.
“Lesser Russia” is scrapped
9th of August
Separatist leader Aleksandr Zacharchenko in Donetsk admits that the attempt to create a new state called Lesser Russia in the present Ukraine has failed. He announced in mid-July that such a state would be proclaimed, but the plan has not received support anywhere, not even from Moscow.
Ukraine buys American coal
Ukraine signs contract with US to import coal. It will replace its own coal, which no longer reaches the western part of the country since the government stopped deliveries from the mining areas in the east in March. The first shipment is expected in September and by the end of the year the US is estimated to deliver around 700,000 tonnes.
Saakashvili is deprived of citizenship
President Poroshenko takes away former Georgian President Micheil Saakashvili the Ukrainian citizenship he was granted in 2015, when he was appointed governor of Odessa. Since he was deprived of his Georgian citizenship when he became a Ukrainian, Saakashvili is now stateless. In his former homeland, he is wanted for abuse of power during his nine years as president there, in Ukraine he is now accused of having provided incorrect information when applying for citizenship.
The electricity is throttled to Donetsk
The state-owned energy company Ukrenergo shuts down the supply of electricity to the areas in the Donetsk region controlled by separatists. In April, Luhansk became powerless from the Ukrainian network.
Severe losses in the east
Six Ukrainian soldiers are killed and five wounded when, according to the Ministry of Defense, they are subjected to grenade fire from the separatists in the Donetsk region. About the same time, three soldiers are killed by a mine in the Luhansk region. Nine killed in a day is the highest number in many months.
Separatists plan “new state”
Aleksandr Zacharchenko, leader of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk”, says that the outbreak states in eastern Ukraine and “other areas” agreed to announce a new state to replace the current Ukraine. The state name should be Malorossija, “Little Russia”, and its capital should be Donetsk. Kiev will be downgraded to “historical and cultural center”. The Ukrainian government dismisses it all as a new invention in Moscow, but a spokesman for the Russian government says he was told about it through the media.
The presidents of Ukraine and Georgia agree that their countries will work together to gain membership in NATO and the EU. They justify this with the countries’ “independence and democracy facing the same threat”, that is, they have been torn apart by conflicts with Russian-backed separatists.
“Ready for NATO 2020”
Ukraine and NATO will begin to develop a “roadmap” for how the country can become a member of the Western Defense Alliance. This is announced by President Poroshenko after a meeting in Kiev with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Ukraine intends to have met all the requirements by 2020. This means that the country must implement a series of political and economic reforms and develop its defenses to meet NATO’s requirements. But membership also presupposes that Ukraine has until then been able to resolve the conflict in the Donbas region with peaceful means.
New ceasefire is broken immediately
The warring parties in eastern Ukraine, with the help of the OSCE, agree to observe a ceasefire until 31 August for harvesting to be carried out in the area. Less than two days later, however, the Ukrainian army reports that two of its soldiers were shot dead. The Separatists, for their part, accuse the army of having broken the ceasefire on ten occasions.
The conflict in the East requires an increased number of victims
The UN reports in a report that the number of killed and injured in eastern Ukraine has increased by almost 50 percent in the spring compared to the period November 16 to February 15. According to the report, violations of the ceasefire are ongoing almost daily and a warning is issued to allow the fighting to escalate during the summer. According to the UN, a total of 10,090 people, including 2,777 civilians, have been killed and 23,966 have been injured since the conflict broke out in April 2014.
Ukraine wants to apply for NATO membership
Parliament, by a large majority, votes for the country to apply for membership in the Western Defense Alliance NATO. If such an application is submitted, Russia will regard it as a threat to its security, the Russian government spokesman immediately clarifies.
The IMF sets tough requirements
The IMF says the fund does not intend to make the next disbursement of Ukraine’s $ 17.5 billion loan until Parliament approved a change to the pension system and made it possible to sell state land. About one-third of the population lives on pension money that costs the state about nine percent of GDP. The IMF says otherwise in its latest report on the Ukrainian economy that the country has recovered from the worst recession and can expect two percent growth in 2017. Of the $ 4.5 billion that Ukraine hopes to get from the IMF during the year so far only one billion paid out.
Criminal investigation against Stalin and Berija
The Prosecutor General’s Office opens a criminal investigation against Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his head of the secret police Lavrentij Berija. The case concerns their responsibility for the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars during World War II, which claimed tens of thousands of lives. Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko describes the investigation as a way of “restoring historical justice”. According to historians, about a quarter of a million Crimean Tatars were exiled to Siberia and Central Asia after allegations that they were cooperating with Nazi Germany. The Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until the end of the 1980s. For several years, their relations with the Ukrainian leadership were quite cool, but after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the government has taken action.
The proposed law of corruption is scrapped
Parliament bowed to pressure from the outside world by not adopting a proposed law that could have led to the closure of the National Anti-Corruption Agency; The proposal to transfer cases from the agency to the security service has been seen by Western countries as an attempt to protect leading politicians and businessmen. Among other things, the IMF has said that the bill completely went against the settlement of a loan package of US $ 17.5 billion.
Russian sites are blocked
Ukraine blocks most popular Russian social media on the Internet and a Russian search engine. The measure is described as a response to Russia’s support for separatists in the east. The ban will be in effect for three years. The closure of the site VK, often described as the closest Russian counterpart to Facebook, is believed to be able to hit hard on the opportunities for the civilian population in the outbreak areas to keep in contact with the outside world and each other.
Civilians are killed at the front
Four civilians are reported to have been killed and one seriously injured when separatists according to the Ukrainian authorities shelled a residential area in Avdijivka. Three of the victims have been women.
Visa-free EU travel
The European Council makes the final decision to give Ukrainian citizens the right to enter the EU without a visa. The right applies to those who have biometric passports, who are allowed to stay in the EU for 90 days during a 180-day period for tourism, business or family visits, but not for work. The agreement does not apply to the UK and Ireland. President Poroshenko describes the visa freedom as Ukraine’s “divorce from the Russian Empire”. After more than 300 years, “Ukraine comes home,” he says. Freedom of visa is expected to take effect on June 11.
Absent ex-president to trial
Former President Viktor Yanukovych is facing trial in his absence in a Kiev court. He is charged with treason, for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for supporting Russian attacks on the country. Among the evidence against him is stated a letter in which he asks the Russian leadership to intervene in the protests against his regime. The letter was presented to the UN Security Council by the Russian ambassador two weeks before Russia annexed the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula in March 2014. Yanukovych lives in a country escape in Russia.
The OSCE restricts its patrols
The OSCE says the organization is forced to limit its surveillance of the ceasefire in the east after an American employee was killed when his vehicle drove over a tank mine. An OSCE spokesman said the attack was not an accident. The car must have been driving along the same road a few hours earlier in a separatist controlled area, and they were not there.
Electric stop to Luhansk
Ukrainian authorities stop supplying electricity to the Luhansk interruption zone, citing separatists have incurred unpaid bills for the equivalent of almost SEK 900 million. The separatists immediately connect to the Russian electricity grid.
The ICJ goes against Ukraine
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejects Ukraine’s request that Russia be temporarily banned from supplying money and weapons to the separatists in eastern Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government claims. According to the 16 judgments, the Ukrainian state has not provided sufficient evidence that Russian funds are used to kill or harm civilians. However, the court agrees to order Russia to stop discriminating against minority groups in Crimea. The decisions are only valid for the time being. The fundamental question of Russia’s possible debt to the conflict in Ukraine will be dealt with further, which may take several years.
The governor leaves
Central Bank Governor Valerija Gontareva submits her resignation application and says she will quit her job on May 10. She has been under severe pressure from the country’s oligarchs and their newspapers for cleaning up the Ukrainian financial sector, where a large part of the banking system is considered to have acted as a number of billionaires’ portfolios, and for following the IMF ‘s recommendations to, among other things, facilitate state aid to the hryvnia, which has kept the exchange rate at an artificially high level. The IMF has warned that domestic policy considerations are likely to risk the necessary economic reforms. The Monetary Fund expresses a wish for Gontareva to be succeeded by a strong person who is able to resist political pressure.
The IMF approves billion loans
The International Monetary Fund approves a payment of one billion US dollars after concluding that the blockade of the separatist areas in the east has “a relatively moderate impact” on growth. A large part of the sum, which is included in the rescue package of 17.5 billion approved in 2015, is believed to go towards paying old debts to the IMF. The Fund emphasizes that the fight against corruption must continue “with determination” and that Ukraine must continue privatization and create a market for agricultural land in order to attract investors.
Russian Putin critic murdered
A Russian government-critical former MP who has been granted asylum in Ukraine is shot dead in Kiev. President Poroshenko accuses Russian authorities of being behind the murder, describing it as “state terrorism”. The Russian government dismisses the allegations as “absurd”. The murdered politician had criticized the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Sanctions against Russian banks
The government is imposing sanctions on five Russian banks’ subsidiaries in Ukraine, which means, among other things, that they cannot bring any money out of the country. According to President Poroshenko, the sanctions will remain in force for one year.
The state blocks transport to the east
About 40 activists who have blocked freight traffic to and from interrupting areas in the east are being arrested by police. Shortly thereafter, however, the government announces that it will impose a block on all freight traffic to areas controlled by the separatists, except for humanitarian operations only. The blockade will remain in effect until separatists return companies in the east that they confiscated from their owners and meet the requirements of the 2015 ceasefire agreement, “Minsk 2”. On the same day, the energy company DTEK announces that separatists have taken control of the Group’s most important coal mines, a power plant and part of the electricity distribution. Steel manufacturer Metinvest has also seized some of its facilities.
The tax chief is under arrest
A judge orders that the chief of the tax and customs authority Roman Nasirov be detained or pay a bail of the equivalent of just over SEK 33 million. He is suspected of embezzling nearly SEK 700 million and prosecution is being prepared. He has been feared to try to leave the country to avoid trial.
Business operations are stopped
The Donetsk separatists are reported to be taking over control of the telephone company Ukrtelecom, which is part of the large SCM group owned by Ukraine’s richest man Rinat Achmetov. SCM is the largest employer in the separatist-controlled areas, but the company says it refuses to obey a call to register the company in the breakaway republics and only pay taxes there.
Separatists threaten companies
The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists threaten to seize companies in the breakaway republics unless Ukrainian nationalists interrupt a month-long blockade of transport to and from the rest of Ukraine. The blockade has hit the trade in Ukraine and threatens to disrupt electricity generation in the west. In principle, companies in the east have continued their business as usual even after the “Declarations of Independence” in 2014 and are legally registered with the Kiev authorities. They pay taxes to both the Ukrainian state and the breaker administrations. The nationalists behind the blockade want to stop trade with the “enemy” and smuggling to the breakaway republics.
Dutch compromise on Ukraine agreement
The lower house of the Dutch Parliament approves the EU’s association agreement with Ukraine after having reached a compromise version. The new letter restricts the EU’s military support to Ukraine and emphasizes that the country cannot be guaranteed a future full membership of the Union. The agreement must also be approved by the Senate, which is unlikely to happen until after the Dutch parliamentary elections on March 15.
New ceasefire is announced
Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France support an agreement to announce a new ceasefire in the east. The agreement has been signed by the government and the separatists, who once again agreed to pull all heavy weapons off the front line, this time no later than February 20. Earlier this month, the fiery fighting cost nearly 30 people’s lives. At the same time, Russian President Putin orders Russian authorities to approve passports issued by the breakaway republics of eastern Ukraine. The rule should apply “temporarily” until there is a “political solution” to the conflict.
Russia is accused of computer attacks
The head of the Ukrainian security service accuses Russian hackers of virus attacks against the country’s power grid, financial systems and other infrastructure. He claims that the Russian security service is behind the attacks carried out with the help of private software companies and criminal hackers. Ukraine has on several occasions previously accused Russia of waging a “cyber war” since its relations deteriorated drastically following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russia has rejected all charges. By December, Russia was singled out as responsible for eliminating parts of Kiev’s electricity supply.
The EU promises more money
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promises during a visit to Kiev that the Union will give Ukraine 600 million euros to strengthen the state’s finances. He says the money will be transferred within the next few weeks as a reward for the reforms the government has implemented despite difficult conditions.
Separatist leaders killed
Oleg Anashchenko, military commander in the Luhansk breakaway republic, is killed by a car bomb. A few days later, Michail Tolstych, one of the top military commanders in Donetsk, is killed.
Harsh battles worry the UN
The UN Security Council calls for an immediate halt to fighting in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed 19 deaths over four days. The fighting is concentrated around the city of Avdijivka, whose more than 20,000 residents have been left without heat and water. Avdijivka is located just north of Donetsk. The EU describes the fighting as a serious breach of the standstill agreement signed in Minsk in February 2014. The Ukrainian government and the Russian-backed separatists accuse each other of triggering the new fighting.
Railway blocked to the east
Ukrainian nationalists block a railroad into separatist-controlled territory with the intention of stopping all trade with the outbreak. During the first two days, about ten freight trains are prevented from entering or leaving the Luhansk region. The loyalist governor of Luhansk says a halt to the transport of coal west threatens the country’s energy sector.
Russia is notified to the ICJ
Ukraine submits a complaint against Russia to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Russia is accused of supporting terrorism, and Ukraine demands damages for the civilians who were shot down and the Malaysian airliner shot down in 2014. Ukraine wants the ICJ to hold Russia accountable for the “terrorist acts” committed by the Russian-backed militia in the eastern part of country.