According to Global Conflict Tracker, the crisis in Ukraine began with protests in the capital Kiev in November 2013 against the decision of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to refuse an agreement for greater economic integration with the European Union. After violent repression by state security forces inadvertently drew an even larger number of protesters and escalated the conflict, President Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014.
In March 2014, Russian troops took control of the Crimean region of Ukraine, before formally annexing the peninsula after residents of Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed local referendum. Russian President Vladimir Putin cited the need to protect the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea and southeastern Ukraine. The crisis increased ethnic divisions, and two months later pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine held a referendum to declare independence from Ukraine.
Violence in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist troops and the Ukrainian military according to conservative estimates has killed more than 10,300 people and injured nearly 24,000 since April 2014. Although Moscow has denied its involvement, Ukraine and NATO have reported the buildup of Russian troops. and military equipment near Donetsk and Russian cross-border shelling.