Russian Federation Has Been Waging Wars throughout All Its History - Always Insidiously and Vilely
Zaborona's major special project on all Russian wars since 1991
Photo: Getty Images. Collage: Kateryna Kruglyk / Zaborona
Photo: Getty Images. Collage: Kateryna Kruglyk / Zaborona
In 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former republics gained not only independence but also an escalation of national conflicts, which were largely due to the artificiality of the borders of the former empire. As a result, civil wars broke out in the post-Soviet territory, in each of which Russia took part - both covertly and openly. Russia's aggressive actions did not begin with Vladimir Putin's rise to power; rather, Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin. As a result, almost every former Soviet republic suffered from Russia's actions. And Ukraine suffered the most.

In this major special project, Zaborona analyzed all the wars in which Russia has participated since 1991 - very briefly because every conflict has a complex history. But all of them have one thing in common: they were warmed up by Russia. It is symbolic that Russia has never called war a war. And it has always fought vilely, using forbidden weapons and deliberately killing civilians.

We hope that this special project will help document all Russian crimes and contribute to a better understanding of Russia's imperial ambitions.
The project was made by:
Author: Anastasiya Opryshchenko
Editors: Yuliana Skibitska, Mariya Pedorenko
Art director: Snizhana Khromets
Infographics / illustrations: Alina Safonenko
Animation: Karolina Uskakovych
Photo editor: Kateryna Kruglyk
Layout: Pavlo Bishko
Copy editor: Anastasiya Pravda
Published: 11.04.2022
The article was created with Media Network support
The transition from the USSR to independence was difficult for many former republics: unrest often arose in these countries. The Kremlin has taken on the role of "peacemaker" and "protector." First of all, as a defender of its alleged borders and its people, because, according to the logic of the Russian Federation, instability at the borders will invariably disrupt the stability of Russian society. Although in fact, the main reason was Russia's desire to be the main and only arbiter in the region.

Russia has usually supported one side of the conflict, and, in order to create an illusion about the status of peacekeepers, sometimes helped the other. However, the presence of Russia only led to the escalation of the conflict.

Quite often the Russian authorities handed out passports with a double-headed eagle in the affected or occupied territories as was the case of Donbas, or, as in the case of Abkhazia – they provided pensions, benefits, and passports. Residents of the side supported by Russia were granted Russian status. Thus, starting military operations, Russia allegedly went to defend "its" people.
Warning: the article contains images of deceased people
Civil War in Georgia or South Ossetian War
December 22, 1991 - January 6, 1993
Civilians are hiding from shelling in the fighting zone during the 1991-93 Georgian Civil War. Photo: Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images
Civilians are hiding from shelling in the fighting zone during the 1991-93 Georgian Civil War. Photo: Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
Georgia and South Ossetia [Georgians name the region Samachablo] were involved in the conflict. There have always been difficult relations between them, and when the central Soviet government began to weaken, the misunderstandings only intensified. Radical sentiments were growing on both sides, and mutual hatred was strengthening.
What happened?
In 1989, peaceful protests took place in the South Ossetian Autonomous Region between Georgians who supported the country's independence and Ossetians loyal to the Soviet Union. The South Ossetian Regional Council has announced that the region will secede from Georgia and form the Soviet Democratic Republic. In response, the Supreme Council of Georgia revoked its autonomy in March 1990. Subsequently, the conflict intensified due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the weakening of state power in Georgia.

As early as 1991, relations between Georgia and South Ossetia were on the verge of an armed conflict. Tskhinvali local policemen were disarmed in January, and two days later units of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs entered the city. The armed confrontation lasted until July 1992.
The Russian Federation's role
The Russian military took part in the conflict, but not only in hostilities. In particular, some troops supplied or sold weapons to Abkhazia and Georgia before the conflict. The weapons were distributed among several paramilitary groups created by Georgian nationalists. Already in early 1991, hideouts with AKs and Makarov pistols were taken to the Vaziani military base and Georgian stations of the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation, and Navy (DTSAAF). Thus, before the civil war, Georgian, Ossetian, and Abkhazian militias were armed. In fact, Russia sold weapons to all parties, and access to them increased as the conflict intensified.
Tbilisi, Georgia, December 29, 1991. Photo: OLEG NIKISHIN/AFP via Getty Images
On January 7, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev issued a decree condemning both sides of the Georgian conflict. He also demanded the withdrawal of all armed groups from the region except the units of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Supreme Council of Georgia called this decree a gross interference in the internal affairs of the republic and refused to respond to the demand.

In 1991, the chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Council, Boris Yeltsin, met with Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia and signed a protocol on resolving the situation, proposing a peacekeeping contingent in the conflict zone, but the RSFSR Supreme Council blocked the initiative. In 1992, in a referendum boycotted by Georgians, South Ossetia voted for independence and accession to Russia. The Dagomys Agreements between Russia and Georgia were signed on June 24, 1992, and in July a mixed peacekeeping force of Georgians, Russians, and South Ossetians entered South Ossetia. South Ossetia became independent but was not recognized by any country in the world.
A priest in a makeshift morgue performs a final blessing over the bodies of people killed during Georgia's civil war. Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
In particular, it caused political instability and periodic financial, economic, and social crises that have occurred over the course of a decade. During the hostilities, volunteers from different republics of the North Caucasus and South Ossetia lost 2 thousand people, and more than 2.5 thousand were injured.

The Georgian side lost about 169 soldiers, and 947 were wounded. Russia lost 46 people. Among the civilian population of Georgia, 224 civilians were killed and 15 went missing, 547 were wounded.

Relations between Georgia and the self-proclaimed authorities of South Ossetia remained tense and led to renewed hostilities in the region in 2008.
The consequences of hostilities in Tbilisi.
Photo: Georges DeKeerle/Sygma via Getty Images
War in Abkhazia
August 14, 1992 - September 30, 1993
Georgians leave Abkhazia.
Photo: Jon Jones/Sygma via Getty Images

Georgians leave Abkhazia. Photo: Jon Jones/Sygma via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
This war is part of the abovementioned civil conflict in Georgia. The situation with Abkhazia was about the same as with South Ossetia: in Soviet times, Abkhazia was part of Georgia as an autonomous republic, and after the collapse of the USSR, it sought independence.

In January 1992, Georgia's legitimately elected president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was overthrown by a group of conspirators, including leaders of illegal armed groups. After seizing power, the force invited politician Eduard Shevardnadze to return to Georgia to legitimize the regime.

On February 21, 1992, the ruling Military Council of Georgia announced the abolition of the Georgian SSR Constitution of 1978 and the restoration of the constitution of the Georgian Democratic Republic of 1921, thus maintaining the autonomy of the republics of Abkhazia, Adzharia and the South Ossetian region within Georgia.

Arriving in Georgia in March 1992, Shevardnadze headed the State Council, which was formed with the participation of conspirators who overthrew Gamsakhurdia. The State Council controlled most of Georgia, with the exception of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, Adzhara and Abkhazia. At the same time, Zviad Gamsakhurdia tried to return to power and launched hostilities in western Georgia.

To stabilize the situation after the overthrow of Gamsakhurdia, Abkhazia created the Council of National Unity. Gradually, Abkhazia tried to move away from Georgia's influence. The State Council, headed by Shevardnadze, did not like it.
What happened?
On July 23, 1992, the war in Abkhazia began. The Supreme Council of the Abkhaz ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic), having restored the Constitution of Abkhazia in 1925, declared the independence of the republic. The State Council of Georgia and the international community did not accept this. After that, mass dismissals of Georgians from the power structures of the autonomy began, as well as the creation of Abkhazian military formations. This, in turn, was not supported by Georgia. Already on August 14, the Georgian leadership introduced troops to the autonomy, citing the need to protect the railway. The State Council of Georgia also decided to send the National Guard to Abkhazia. The conflict turned into armed clashes. The Georgian government's goal was to establish control over part of its territory and preserve its integrity. The goal of the Abkhaz authorities was initially to expand the rights of autonomy and eventually to gain independence.

Fighting for Sukhumi [Georgian Sukhum] and many other Abkhazian cities continued in August. The war lasted until September 1993. Several thousand people died on both sides, and hundreds of thousands fled their homes and became internal refugees. Both sides pushed the enemy out of strategically important areas. The capture and exchange of hostages became widespread.

In August 1993, at the initiative of Russia, a tripartite Sochi agreement was signed, which provided for the withdrawal of Georgian troops from Abkhazia. Georgia withdrew troops, but Abkhazia did not restrain its forces and provoked the Georgian side into conflict. By the end of September, Abkhazia had launched an assault on Sukhumi, from which virtually all Georgian heavy weapons had been withdrawn. Abkhazia, along with military volunteers from Russia and other countries, stormed the city of Sukhumi, Sukhumi airport, and the city of Ochamchira.

As a result of the conflict, Abkhaz forces in September 1993 established control over the entire territory of Abkhazia. About 250,000 Georgians, according to Human Rights Watch, were forced to flee Abkhazia after fighting for Sukhumi. Their journey was difficult because of the heat during the day and frost at night. The road took almost two weeks; about 500 people froze to death.

The majority of Georgia's population was subjected to torture and ethnic cleansing by Abkhaz troops, Chechens, and other North Caucasians from the Russian Federation. Traces of torture were found on the corpses seized from the territory held by the Abkhazians.
Грузини залишають Абхазію. Фото: Jon Jones/Sygma via Getty Images
Georgians leave Abkhazia.
Photo: Jon Jones/Sygma via Getty Images
The Russian Federation's role
Russia has assumed the role of a third party in the settlement of the conflict. During the conflict, Russian President Boris Yeltsin maintained neutrality, condemned human rights abuses, and imposed sanctions on both sides. At the same time, Russian military units located in the conflict zone from the beginning provided unofficial support to both Abkhazian and Georgian formations. According to numerous reports, it was Russian planes that bombed Georgian positions, and Abkhazian troops landed from Russian planes.

According to experts from the Center for Caucasian Studies, on the eve of the introduction of troops, Georgia received from the former Transcaucasian Military District about 100 tanks, many armored personnel carriers, and about 25,000 submachine guns, and machine guns, dozens of guns, missile and artillery systems.
Civil war victims on the ruins of their home between Senaki and Kutaisi, Georgia. Photo: Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images
In addition, certain groups of Russian military personnel were deployed on the territory of Abkhazia simultaneously with the start of the war. However, official sources in the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian troops were guarding themselves and opened fire only in response. After the Sochi armistice agreement on July 27, 1993, an attempt was made to grant these troops the status of peacekeepers post hoc.

Almost all short-term truces were broken by Abkhaz forces, which were joined by thousands of volunteers from Russia - Russian Cossacks, Chechens, Kabardians, Adyghs. Although Russia denies this, Abkhaz formations received weapons directly from Russia.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
Russia has officially recognized the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia and established diplomatic relations with it. According to official figures, about 16,000 people out of the 537,000 population of pre-war Abkhazia died during the hostilities, including 4,000 Abkhazians, 10,000 Georgians, and about 2,000 volunteers from the North Caucasus and South Ossetia.

Between 200,000 and 250,000 people (mostly Georgians) became refugees. Half of the population of Abkhazia, fleeing hostilities, was forced to leave their native places. No more than 300 people were able to return. Tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians (Megrelians) have returned to the Gali region of Abkhazia without any security assurances from the international community or the Abkhaz authorities. After the clashes, many mines remained in Abkhazia, killing about 700 people.

The unsettled relations between Abkhazia and Georgia and the presence of thousands of Georgian refugees from Abkhazia in Georgia remain a constant source of tension in the Transcaucasus.

The households of civilians in Abkhazia have suffered enormous economic losses. For five years after the end of the conflict, Abkhazia was under a de facto blockade by both Georgia and Russia. Significant support for the separatist regime, according to Georgia and many members of the international community, was the payment of Russian pensions and benefits to the population, which became possible after granting Russian citizenship to a significant part (over 90%) of Abkhazians. By Vladimir Putin's decree, Abkhazians were granted citizenship in a simplified manner as part of the exchange of Soviet passports.
Armed conflict in Transnistria
November 2, 1990 - July 21, 1992
Burnt-out cars on the streets of Bendery, where clashes between Russian-speaking separatists and Moldovan troops killed at least 16 people. June 26, 1992. Photo: SERGUEI VORONIN/AFP via Getty Images
Burnt-out cars on the streets of Bendery, where clashes between Russian-speaking separatists and Moldovan troops killed at least 16 people. June 26, 1992. Photo: SERGUEI VORONIN/AFP via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
The military confrontation in Moldova began because one part of the country wanted independence while the other wanted to remain part of the USSR. The war in Transnistria was fought between Transnistrian (PMR) forces, including the Transnistrian Republican Guard, militia, and Cossack units (supported by units of the 14th Russian Army), and Moldovan forces, which included Moldovan troops and police.
What happened?
From December 1989 to November 1990, local referendums were held in the cities and districts of Transnistria, a region in eastern Moldova. The issue of establishing the Transnistrian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was raised at the vote. A total of 472,000 people were on the voter lists, of which 370,000 came to the referendum. Of these, 95.8% supported the formation of a new republic. At the same time, the referendum supported the idea of having the 14th Russian Army on the territory of Transnistria, which had been in Moldova all this time and which the country was trying to refuse.

National issues also intensified: in particular, in March 1988, at a plenum of the Writers' Union of the USSR, attempts were made to promote the idea of the Russian language as the national language in all the republics of the USSR. Moldova and Romania did not want to lose their identities, so on February 16, 1989, the Moldovan parliament published a bill "On the functioning of languages in the Moldavian SSR", which deprived parents of the right to choose the language of teaching for children, and for using another language in official communication, except Moldavian, administrative and even criminal liability was envisaged. This led to the emergence of a spontaneous social movement that advocated the introduction of two official languages in Moldova: Moldavian and Russian.

The first victims of the conflict appeared on November 2, 1990, two months after the declaration of independence of Transnistria. Subsequently, there were many clashes between Moldovan police and Transnistrians.

On March 17, 1991, an all-Union referendum on the preservation of the USSR was held. Moldova did not support it. Subsequently, Moldova declared its independence. Transnistria did the same. The UN recognized only Moldova as a state. On March 2, 1992, Moldova became a full member of the United Nations.

The Russian government did not want to lose control over Moldova, nor was it satisfied with Moldova's alliance with Romania. In fact, this led to the beginning of the armed conflict in the east of the country. On the night of March 1-2, 1992, Cossack troops attacked the Dubossary police station and took 32 police officers hostage. The posts of guardsmen and militiamen of the separatist regime in Tiraspol were insured by armored vehicles of the Russian army. As a result, hostilities engulfed the left-bank villages on the outskirts of Dubossary and the right-bank Bendery.

On March 28, 1992, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur imposed a state of emergency throughout the country, ordering the liquidation and disarmament of Transnistrian police.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian army has been constantly shelling the Moldovan military. Moldova suffered heavy losses, and on July 21, 1992, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov signed a peace agreement. The conflict has been "frozen" and has not yet been resolved.

In 2010, the Moldovan parliament declared March 2 "Remembrance Day".
Жінки з Тирасполя, головного міста самопроголошеної республіки Придністров'я, займають окопи вздовж лінії фронту біля села Кошниця, закликаючи до припинення вогню між озброєними групами Придністров'я та молдавською поліцією. 24 квітня 1992 року.
Фото: MICHAEL EVSTAFIEV/AFP via Getty Images
The Russian Federation's role
In this conflict, as in previous ones, Russia has actively involved its so-called peacekeeping battalions to allegedly settle the issue. But since the beginning of hostilities, the country has supported the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic. The number of Russian troops involved in the armed conflict is debatable: the figures range from 5,000 to 10,000.
Supporters of Transnistria near the body of a Moldovan fighter killed in clashes between Russian separatists and Moldovan troops. Bendery, Moldova, June 23, 1992. Photo: STAPHAN BENTURA/AFP через Getty Images
The 14th Army of Alexander Lebed was supposed to de-escalate the conflict and maintain neutrality on the territory of Moldova. In fact, it gradually abolished the power of the Republic of Moldova in Transnistria and replaced the leaders with its own people. Also with the beginning of the conflict, the Transnistrian forces received Soviet T-64 tanks and modern small arms. The Russian army recruited people from local Transnistrian reservists to conduct hostilities. Russia also used air defenses, often conducting military operations at night and distracting the enemy from its aircraft with the roar of helicopters.

The Moldovan side of the conflict was open to its peaceful settlement, but did not support the separatists' terms. Therefore, one of the directions in the war from the side of Russia was the destruction of military settlements. On the night of June 30, 1992, Russian mortars made a powerful artillery strike 50 meters from the BM-21 Grad battery on the Kitskansky bridgehead, which forced the Moldovan troops to flee, leaving their weapons.

Although the actions of the 14th Army are often cited as the best example of the work of "peacekeeping forces" in Russia, in reality it was a full-fledged war, and the participation of Russian forces in it was carried out outside the peacekeeping operation frame.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
On July 21, in Moscow, the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, and the President of the Republic of Moldova Mircea Snegur signed a ceasefire agreement. The conflict was frozen, and Moldova lost its integrity and control of the left bank of the Dniester and Bendery. Instead, the Transnistrian authorities failed to establish control over Kochiery, Maly, Koshnytsia, Pirita, Varnytsia, and Kopanka.

The issue of the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic status is still relevant. The international community recognizes the region as part of Moldova, but Moldova has no control over Transnistria. At the same time, the independence of Transnistria was recognized by other self-proclaimed republics of the post-Soviet space: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian soldier during clashes between Russian separatists and Moldovan forces near the village of Mozdova on April 5, 1992. Photo: GYENNADY TAMARIN / AFP via Getty Images
In addition, Moldova and Transnistria have reported massive human rights violations in Bendery area in June-July 1992. It is not just about cases of robbery: the parties accuse each other of deliberately shelling civilians, including women, the elderly, and children.
A Moldovan resident found a body on a street of Bendery during clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Moldovan troops. June 28, 1992. Photo: AFP via Getty Images
Losses of the parties to the conflict:
  • Republic of Moldova: 286 people (according to the Ministry of Defense) or 386 people (according to other data).
  • Transnistrian Moldavian Republic: 826 people, of which 310 are civilians (according to the Transnistrian authorities), or 809 people (according to other data).
  • Russia (14th Guards Army under the command of Alexander Lebed): 24 people, including 21 soldiers and 3 officers.
Civil war in Tajikistan
May 5, 1992 - June 27, 1997
Government troops are firing on armed opposition groups in Afghanistan's border area on June 8, 1993. Photo: AFP via Getty Images
Government troops are firing on armed opposition groups in Afghanistan's border area on June 8, 1993. Photo: AFP via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
During the perestroika years, Tajikistan suffered from unemployment, a population explosion and criminal gangs, some of which were in power. Despite tensions in the country, the governments usually were changing without conflict. However, in 1990-1991, the conflict moved to the streets. The events in Tajikistan were also partly influenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union, as Russia stopped defending the region and promoting its ideas there.

The civil war would not have taken on such scale without the main opposing parties, which consisted of political groups. Often these groups were formed according to a certain region, but not always. In fact, the civil war in Tajikistan was waged between regions, as well as political elites and ideologies.

There was political elite on the part of the government - people from Kulyab and Leninabad region. On the other side of the government was a coalition of new opposition parties and their armed supporters. Most of these parties identified themselves outside of ideological grounds. They advocated "democracy", "Islamic values" or "the revival of the Tajik nation". The largest was the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP).

The IRP has joined the new Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT), the Rastokhez People's Movement. There was also the Lali-Badakhshan, a party which members were mostly Pamirs, who advocated greater autonomy for mountain Badakhshan in eastern Tajikistan. During the war, some of these groups joined the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to continue their hostilities and participate in peace talks.

Researchers emphasize that the reason why various groups clung to the war was not limited to politics. Some field commanders, both government and opposition, fought for control of resources (cotton, aluminum, drugs).
What happened?
The civil war that engulfed Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union lasted for five years. Various forces took part in the bloodshed: communists, democrats, radical Islamists, and representatives of various ethnic groups. Neighbors, especially Uzbekistan, actively intervened in the conflict. The Russian army also played its part. Russia and Uzbekistan supported the government of Tajikistan, that is, people from Kulyab and the Leninabad region. The opposition (UTO) was supported by various forces from Afghanistan and Iran. However, in 2017, Iran denied allegations that it was related to the civil war in Tajikistan.

On November 24, 1991, the Tajik SSR held presidential elections, which were won by Rakhmon Nabiev from Leninabad who won 56.92% of the vote. The opposition said the election was rigged.

After Nabiyev became president, all power was usurped by him and his ruling party. Nabiyev had pro-Russian views, and Russia actively supported him. All subsequent agreements with the Russian side were accepted by a native of the Leninabad region.

The result was that they tried to eliminate all opposition, people who disagreed with the election were arrested and sentenced to imprisonment. Democrat Maksud Ikromov was convicted of allegedly slandering Tajik Verkhovna Rada Speaker Safarali Kendzhaev. Three days later, on March 26, 1992, protests took place in front of the Presidential Palace, demanding Kendzhaev's resignation. The number of people reached 50-60 thousand. Kendzhaev resigned. Already on April 29, the opposition blocked the Presidential Palace, so the leadership of Tajikistan introduced a permanent presidential rule for an indefinite period.

On May 1, President Rakhmon Nabiev created a special battalion of the National Guard and distributed about 1,800 machine guns to his supporters. As a result, bloodshed and armed clashes took place in several regions.

After that, a group of young people who called themselves the "Dushanbe Youth" seized the TV center and gave it to the opposition. The opposition tried to block key government buildings and roads. On May 7, Nabiyev signed an agreement under which the opposition gained control of eight ministries, disband of the guard and the restriction of the rights of the president were supposed. But the opposition did not stop there.

Already in the summer, new protests began, the opposition and the so-called "Dushanbe youth" seized more and more radio stations and government buildings, and armed clashes broke out in the process.

Against the background of all protests and armed conflicts in the Leninabad region, the creation of the National Guard numbering 2,000 people was announced. On September 2, members of the Cabinet of Ministers signed a joint statement of no confidence in the president.

On September 7, Rahmon Nabiev secretly tried to leave for his hometown of Khojand, which was controlled by his supporters, but was intercepted on the way to the airport. In order to prevent the massacre of the President, 4 tanks, 1 armored personnel carrier and 1 infantry fighting vehicle of the 201st Motorized Rifle Division arrived at the airport, as well as 4 armored personnel carriers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan. In the evening of the same day, after meeting with members of the Presidium of the Supreme Council, Nabiyev signed his resignation. After that, the political crisis in Tajikistan finally took the form of a civil war.

Former Chairman of the Supreme Council Safarali Kendzhaev fled to Kulyab and organized his own militant units. The People's Front of Tajikistan was formed on the basis of the Kulyab-Hissar coalition, which proclaimed the goal of restoring the "constitutional order." Safarali Kendzhaev and Sangak Safarov became the leaders of the movement.

Throughout 1992, constant clashes and mutual terror between the opposition and supporters of the government continued in the country. Both sides used armored vehicles and heavy weapons. By October 1992, the total casualties amounted to 15-20,000 killed and tens of thousands wounded (mostly civilians), and hundreds of thousands residents had become refugees. Almost all migrants from Uzbekistan and northern Tajikistan left the south. About 90,000 Russian-speaking people left Tajikistan.

The situation on the Tajik-Afghan border, where Russian border guards served, has worsened. Since the spring of 1993, Tajik opposition militants with the support of the Afghan Mujahideen have repeatedly tried to break through the border. Early in the morning of July 13, Afghan Mujahideen broke into Tajikistan with a battalion (200 men) from the 55th Infantry Division of the Afghan Armed Forces and Tajik opposition fighters. In the evening, units of the Russian 201st Motorized Rifle Division approached the battlefield, knocking the Mujahideen out of position and restoring the integrity of the border.

From April 1994 to May 1997, 8 rounds of talks were held under the auspices of the United Nations. On June 27, at the 9th meeting in the Kremlin, the UTO and the leadership of the Republic of Tajikistan signed a final peace agreement.

This was also facilitated by the Inter-Tajik Dialogue, which helped to establish communication between those groups that took part in the war.
The Russian Federation's role
Russian authorities have openly supported the Tajik government, which has changed since the Dushanbe protests. During the riots, the current government asked Russia to help, so the Kremlin first sent airborne units to the Tajik-Afghan border, and then border guards.

Russia's military presence in independent Tajikistan preceded the civil war. Border guards and the 201st Motorized Rifle Division, which remained in Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union, made up the majority of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan since 1997.

Peacekeepers, mercenaries and servicemen of the Uzbek army, Kazakhstan and several other countries also took part in the civil war.

Pro-government forces were reinforced by the presence of Russian border guards and the 201st Russian Division. Russian border guards often took part in skirmishes with the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), which was trying to re-enter Tajikistan from Afghanistan. Moscow has consistently denied that the troops of the 201st Division took part in hostilities in Tajikistan, but, for example, no one but Russian troops could carry out air strikes on anti-terrorist operation positions.

On the night of July 13, 1993, one of the Russian detachments almost completely destroyed the Islamic opposition from Afghanistan. As a result of the fierce battle, 24 border guards were killed, as well as several servicemen of the 201st Motor Rifle Division and the National Security Service of Tajikistan. The Memorial human rights organization also mentions the deaths of 25 Tajik families. The death of border guards resonated widely in Russia and drew attention to one of the major problems - the lack of a serious legal framework as peacekeepers during the actions of Russian troops in the CIS.

Russia's support was also expressed in economic assistance to the new government and active military cooperation. Russia has signed a separate agreement on military cooperation with the new government, but concrete cooperation has turned out to be even closer than the agreement provided.
Russian combat helicopter flies over the Afghanistan-Tajik border near Piang on June 29, 1993.
Photo: STR./AFP via Getty Images
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
By the end of the war, Tajikistan was in a state of complete destruction. About 1.2 million people have become refugees inside and outside the country. Tajikistan's infrastructure, public services and economy, like the majority of the population, have survived thanks to funding from international aid organizations.

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan's economy was one of the last in the world, and as a result of years of civil war, Tajikistan has become one of the world's poorest countries, although it was not included in the UN official list of the least developed countries. During the war, more than 60 medical institutions, dozens of schools and other educational institutions, dozens of social and cultural facilities were destroyed.

The difficult economic and socio-humanitarian situation since the end of the civil war has effectively pushed Tajikistan at least 10 years back. Unemployment level rose in the country due to the destruction and suspension of most enterprises, plants and factories. There was a great leak of scientists. Since the early 2000s, the population of Tajikistan (mostly men) has gone en masse to earn money - first to Russia, and later to Kazakhstan, Turkey, the United States and European countries. Most Tajik children and families have lived and are living without a father.

Even after the end of the war, the difficult economic and social situation did not stop the emigration of Tajiks to other countries. Both during and after the war, international, global, regional, and non-governmental organizations regularly sent humanitarian, technical, and financial assistance to Tajikistan.

The killing and harassment of journalists, scientists, and civilians have become a particular problem. More than 40 journalists were killed during the civil war.

During the war, Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition Force lost more than 60,000 people. Russia has lost 302 people, 104 of whom are border guards.
Men at the funeral of an Abkhazian soldier who died in the Kodori Gorge in Guada while clearing a bomb after an armed clash with Georgians. Sukhumi, August 16, 2008.
Photo: STR./AFP via Getty Images
First Chechen war
December 11, 1994 - August 31, 1996
Chechens during the Russian occupation of Grozny.
Photo: Georges DeKeerle/Sygma via Getty Images

Chechens during the Russian occupation of Grozny.
Photo: Georges DeKeerle/Sygma via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
At the time of the Soviet Union's collapse, Chechnya, still on the territory of Russia, sought secession. The Russian authorities, thinking that the region could be returned quickly, did not care about the intensification of national-patriotic movements there. However, later, patriotic sentiments in Chechnya began to worry Russia because the Russian government was already unable to gain a foothold in Chechnya and integrate it.

In 1990, the National Chechen Congress was held in Grozny. Chechnya wanted to secede from the Soviet Union, using the same famous phrase of Boris Yeltsin addressed to the republics of the Union: "Take as much sovereignty as you can take." The congress elected an Executive Committee to promote the interests of the Chechens. Major General Dzhokhar Dudayev became the chairman of the committee. The second congress in 1991 adopted a declaration on the formation of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Since Chechnya was still a republic of the USSR, two authorities were actually formed there.

Therefore, this conflict is not a war with the neighboring country; it is Russia's open interference in the lives of sovereign neighbors. And if in neighboring countries Russia supported the separatists in every possible way, then on its territory it brutally cracked down on them.

In the same year, the self-proclaimed National Congress of the Chechen People, led by Dudayev, declared that it was not part of the RSFSR and the USSR.

In 1991, members of Congress stormed a session of the Supreme Council of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to assert independence. Vitaliy Kutsenko, head of the Grozny branch of the Communist Party, was killed in the assault. In fact, the government of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic of the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Executive Committee left the RSFSR and the USSR. In the same year, Dudayev became president of Chechnya. 72.1% voted for him.

On the eve of the election, the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union published information in the Chechen press that the 1991 election was illegal. Therefore, on November 8, Boris Yeltsin imposed a state of emergency in the republic and sent special units to the military airfield in Khankala under the command of Vice President Alexander Rutsky. Chechen forces stopped them.

Dudayev announced the creation of an independent republic of Ichkeria. Russia, like all countries in the world, has not recognized its independence. But a paradoxical situation arose: Russia did not control the situation in the republic in any way, and at the same time Ichkeria continued to be subsidized by the federal budget of the Russian Federation.

On June 8, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya is completed. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev have signed a document on the division of Russian weapons present in Chechnya.
Chechens walk past the destroyed presidential palace in Grozny, Chechnya, February 1996.
Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP via Getty Images
What happened?
The Russian government has repeatedly said that the reason for the war in Chechnya was the "genocide" of Russians in the republic, as well as the high level of banditry. At first, Russia wanted to overthrow Dudayev at the hands of the opposition. The clashes took place in the summer of 1994.

Moscow provided the opposition with weapons for the assault, but the anti-Dudayevs were defeated by his supporters. Later, the Russian military, whom Moscow secretly sent to help the opposition, was captured by the Chechens. The then Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev claimed that these soldiers had nothing to do with the Russian army. Meanwhile, soldiers were showing their army tokens on NTV.

In the winter of 1994, Boris Yeltsin agreed to send troops to Ichkeria. At the meeting, security forces persuaded the Russian president that this "operation" would be quick, and the population would allegedly meet the federal troops with flowers. Defense Minister Grachev, who initially criticized the data and asked for a delay of several months, changed his rhetoric under pressure and promised to take Grozny in two days.
The Russian Federation's role
Since September 1994, there have been active hostilities in Chechnya. In particular, Russian troops bombed military objects. Dudayev's forces were opposed by armed groups, Su-24 attack aircraft, and Mi-24 helicopters without identification.

On December 11, the President of the Russian Federation signed Decree № 2169 "On measures to ensure law and order and public safety in the Chechen Republic." After that day, Russian troops entered Chechnya in three directions simultaneously: from the west (from North Ossetia through Ingushetia), from the north (from the Mozdok district of North Ossetia), and from the east (from Dagestan).

Yeltsin called the war in Chechnya "a special operation to protect its citizens from extremists" and explained that federal troops had entered Chechnya to protect the population from civil war.

At the beginning of the military campaign, the battle for the capital Grozny, which Russian troops captured from December 31, 1994, to March 1995 and nearly destroyed, and the terrorist attacks in Budyonnovsk in June 1995 were devastating. Russia also bombed Chechnya from the air.
The main events of the First Russian-Chechen War of 1994-1995
After the capture of Grozny, Russian federal forces tried to seize control of the mountainous region of Chechnya, but faced strong resistance from Chechen guerrillas. Despite Russia's superiority in armaments, manpower, artillery, combat vehicles, and air support, federal forces were defeated. During 1995, Russia and Chechnya tried to resolve the conflict peacefully.

Dudayev was killed by Russian special services during the war. After Dudayev's death, Shamil Basayev became one of the leaders of the State Defense Committee and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

On June 9-11, 1996, during talks in Nazran, military agreements were reached between Russia and the Chechen side: Russian troops were to withdraw from Chechnya and destroy all roadblocks, and disarm of Chechen militants was to take place from July 7 to August 7. The full withdrawal of federal troops was expected to be completed by August 30.

However, as early as July 1, 1996, the Chechen side stated that the Russian command was not complying with the terms of the armistice: the federal side did not remove a single checkpoint, although, according to the agreements, it had to do this before July 7. Therefore, on July 6, the Chechen side warned again: if the Russian checkpoints are not removed by the end of the next day, it will withdraw from the negotiation process. Russia responded as follows: complete removal of checkpoints is not planned; the command associates this with "general normalization of the situation."
Chechen fighter prays during the First Chechen War. Goyskoye, Chechnya.
Photo: Antoine GYORI/Sygma via Getty Images
The Russian authorities have demonstrated that they are not going to fulfill the agreements when the political need for this has disappeared. Therefore, Russia withdrew from the negotiation process and continued hostilities. However, despite the technical superiority and number of personnel, Russian troops suffered heavy losses. The Chechen side regained control of its cities, including Grozny.

According to Russian data, 494 people were killed in the battle for Grozny, 1407 were wounded, and 182 servicemen and police officers went missing. 87 units of armored vehicles, 23 cars, and 3 helicopters were lost. The number of militants attacking the city ranged from 850 to 2,000.

On August 31, 1996, Field Commander Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya and General Alexander Lebed of Russia signed the Khasavyurt Accords in Dagestan. According to them, consideration of the status of Chechnya was postponed until December 31, 2001. On January 27, 1997, Maskhadov was elected president of the republic, gaining 59.3% of the vote.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
According to various estimates, the losses of the Chechen side are 10-15 thousand people. Russia insists it killed 17,391 troops.

The losses of federal forces in the First Chechen War were, according to official figures, 4,379 killed, 1,200 missing and 19,794 wounded. According to the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, more than 14,000 people have been killed and gone missing (this indicates that the Russian authorities have kept silent about the real losses).

The number of Chechen civilians killed varies from 20,000 to 100,000 - the latter figure is usually mentioned in Chechen sources. Most scientists and human rights organizations estimate the number of civilian casualties at 40,000.

Russia, as it happened in Transnistria and Georgia, sent local reservists and conscripts to the war. As part of military training, conscripts were transferred to the front without informing either them or their families about where exactly they were going.

In addition, Russia for a very long time did not recognize that there was a war going on in Chechnya, and therefore no one was going to count the losses. But there were losses - and that made the war extremely unpopular in Russia.
Russian army soldier examines the bodies of Chechen civilians killed in winter fighting and exhumed them for identification. Grozny, March 31, 1995. Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP via Getty Images
The use of Russian aircraft and artillery caused casualties among the civilian population, as a result of which the war acquired a protracted, guerrilla character. Russian troops held only large centers and were constantly attacked. According to Human Rights Watch, Russian artillery and rocket fire killed at least 267 civilians during a separatist raid in December 1995 on Gudermes. Also, Russian forces often refused to create safe corridors so that civilians could leave areas of active hostilities, resulting in civilians being trapped along the front lines for months.

Constant attacks by Russian troops on civilians have forced more than two hundred thousand Chechens to flee to neighboring Ingushetia, suppressing a local population of about 300,000.

As a result, Chechnya became a de facto independent state but was not legally recognized by any country, including Russia. The republic had state symbols - the flag, coat of arms and anthem, its own authorities - as well as the president, parliament, government, and secular courts. It was supposed to create armed forces and even introduce its own national currency – nahara.
The Russian army attacks Bamut during the First Chechen War.
Photo: Georges DeKeerle/Sygma via Getty Images
During the war on the territory of Chechnya, many deliberate murders were committed by its own military.

Some Chechen militants were guilty of atrocities in the interwar years, including mass abductions and hostage-taking. There is convincing evidence that Chechen militants executed captured Russian soldiers during the conflict. Hostage-taking and the slave trade have flourished in the country - according to Rosinformcenter, a total of 1,790 people have been abducted and illegally detained in Chechnya since 1992.

Due to ethnic cleansing and hostilities, there is virtually no non-Chechen population left in the republic - some have fled, others have been killed. Wahhabism (a religious and political Islam movement) began to grow in Chechnya, which later led to the invasion of Dagestan and then to the beginning of the Second Chechen War.
Chechen village destroyed by the Russian Air Force. Photo: Antoine GYORI / Sygma via Getty Images
Funeral of Chechens killed in an attack by unknown terrorists. Photo: Antoine GYORI / Sygma via Getty Images
Chechen village destroyed by the Russian Air Force. Photo: Antoine GYORI / Sygma via Getty Images
Funeral of Chechens killed in an attack by unknown terrorists. Photo: Antoine GYORI / Sygma via Getty Images
Second Chechen war
August 7, 1999 - April 15, 2009
Aishat Gandzieva, 50, near her home in the village of Verkhniy Gamiyah near Khasavyurt, Dagestan, September 11, 1999. Her house was destroyed by a Russian airstrike.
Photo: Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images

Aishat Gandzieva, 50, near her home in the village of Verkhniy Gamiyah near Khasavyurt, Dagestan, September 11, 1999. Her house was destroyed by a Russian airstrike.
Photo: Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images
What happened?
The Chechen war did not end but simply moved to another phase. In fact, it began with fighting in the Republic of Dagestan: on August 7, 1999, about 500 militants invaded Dagestan from the territory of Chechnya. On August 9, the Chechen leadership declared the Dagestan State Council invalid and formed the Islamic Government in Dagestan.

This was followed by mass armed clashes, accompanied by the introduction of Chechen units of the Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade under the command of Shamil Basayev and Amir ibn al-Khattab, better known simply as Khattab. Chechnya's official position was that the invasion of Dagestan was a peacekeeping operation and that the Chechens should protect the Caucasian peoples from Russian interference.

Fighting between Russians, Dagestanis and Chechen militants lasted more than a month and ended with Chechen militants being forced to retreat from Dagestan back to Chechnya.

In late August, the Russian leadership and representatives of the federal security forces began preparing public opinion for the military operation against Chechnya. The first stage of the propaganda was stories about torture by Chechens (during the First Chechen War). Then Russians were intimidated by the possibility of terrorist attacks by Chechens - and it was confirmed by cases of terrorist explosions (in Pyatigorsk and Nalchik), for which Salman Raduyev, the Chechnya military leader, first claimed and then denied responsibility.

The second phase of the propaganda campaign began after a series of terrorist attacks in Buynaksk (September 4), Moscow (September 9 and 13) and Volgodonsk (September 16). About 300 people died in Buynaksk alone. Chechen terrorists have been blamed for the attacks.

An investigation later revealed that the direct perpetrators were "persons of Slavic appearance" and that a Karachay-Cherkessian resident and a native of Central Asia were wanted as organizers of the bombings. However, the version of the "Chechen trail" at that time was already firmly established in the mass consciousness.

Leaders of Islamic groups in Chechnya and Dagestan, including Shamil Basayev, have categorically denied involvement in the attacks, but their statements have not been taken into account.

After that, the second stage of the Chechen war began. On September 23, 1999, Russian troops began the mass bombing of Grozny and its environs, and on September 30 entered Chechnya.
Rural refugees were probably taken hostage by the rebels and released by Russian troops.
Photo: Antoine GYORI/Sygma via Getty Images
The Russian Federation's role
This war was the only one that went beyond the battlefields and spread to Russia in the form of terrorist attacks. After 2009, underground gangs of Chechen militants staged a series of major terrorist attacks in the country (explosions in the Moscow metro in 2010, at Domodedovo airport in 2011, at the train station, and in a trolleybus in Volgograd in 2013).

Russia also called this war a "counter-terrorist operation," responsibility for its conduct was first assigned to the Ministry of Defense, from January 22, 2001, to the Russian FSB, and from September 1, 2003, to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The war began with massive bombings of Ichkeria by Russian aircraft and artillery in early September. According to the Chechen authorities, 40 people became victims of the air raid. The bodies of most of those killed could not be identified. In total, about 15 villages were destroyed in the second war in Chechnya, killing more than 200 people and leaving about 20,000 homeless.

On September 16, Aslan Maskhadov said that the Chechen leadership was making every effort to resolve the conflict around Ichkeria peacefully. He tried to reach an agreement with the Russian authorities, promising to help identify and detain terrorists. However, federal law enforcement agencies, which have repeatedly claimed that "the threads of the terrorist attacks lead to Chechnya", have refused to cooperate.

The ground military operation near Chechnya began on September 30, 1999. In response to the air strikes, Chechen President Maskhadov declared Russia a ghazawat (holy war). In six months, the federal forces, without much resistance, managed to occupy a third of Chechnya north of the Terek River, and in November-December to take Gudermes, Achkhoi-Martan, Argun, Urus-Martan, Khankala, Shali.

In early November 1999, Russian troops surrounded and blocked Grozny, but until February 6, 2000, fierce fighting continued in the capital. The shelling almost razed Grozny to the ground. In 2003, the UN named Grozny the most destroyed city on Earth.

In March 2000, Chechens blocked in the Argun Gorge managed to capture the village of Komsomolskoye. The Russian command launched a large-scale military operation and only at the cost of huge losses was able to regain control of the village.

On April 20, 2000, Russia's First Deputy Chief of Staff Valery Manilov declared: "The military unit of the counter terrorist operation in Chechnya is over." On January 23, 2001, President Putin decided to partially withdraw Russian troops from the republic.

After that, there were several guerrilla and armed conflicts. Terrorist attacks continued in Chechnya and neighboring regions.

In March 2005, President Aslan Maskhadov was killed during a special FSB operation in the village of Tolstoy-Yurt. In 2006, his successor, Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, was killed. Doku Umarov, who led the separatists, announced in 2007 the liquidation of Ichkeria and the creation of the Caucasus Emirate (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization).

On January 31, 2006, Vladimir Putin announced the end of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya. And in July 2006, Shamil Basayev was killed as a result of a special operation by Russian special services.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
Russia managed to completely take control of the territory of the republic and ensure its loyalty to the central government.

The economic situation was difficult, living standards fell sharply. The vast majority of Chechens had little means of subsistence and lived in war-torn houses.

Many weapons fell into the hands of the population of the self-proclaimed republic, so there was an intensification of criminal groups. In many villages, local militia detachments began to form. Former field commanders organized gangs that engaged in racketeering, the slave trade, drug trafficking, and kidnapping.

In October 2000, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a 99-page Welcome to Hell report on how Russian troops detained thousands of Chechens, often without any evidence of wrongdoing. Chechen prisoners were systematically beaten, some of whom were also raped or otherwise tortured. Most were released only after their families paid large bribes to Russian officials.

HRW also singled out eight cases of bodies being dumped just along roadsides, in hospitals and elsewhere. Many similar cases have been recorded at the Memorial. Most of these bodies had injuries and traces of close-range shots typical of extrajudicial killings. Medical examinations of some victims showed that some of the injuries were inflicted on living people.

A few years after the war, Chechnya ranked 65th in terms of average wages - 21,500 rubles a month. In 2014, according to Rosstat, wages fell by another 3% (the worst indicator in Russia). Thirteen years after the end of the Second Chechen War, Chechnya's economy looks bad: the republic has almost no business of its own. At the same time, it ranks second (after Ingushetia) in the amount of subsidies from the Russian budget. That is, almost the entire economy that now exists in the country is created artificially.

According to Amnesty International, the situation in the Caucasus after the Second Chechen War was accompanied by systematic human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and torture by both law enforcement and Chechen militants.

The situation with human rights in Chechnya is difficult now, and all power belongs to Ramzan Kadyrov and his supporters. Kidnapping and killing of dissidents are practiced there widely.
Grozny, Chechnya, January 25, 1995.
Photo: Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
In total, in the fighting in Dagestan and Chechnya during the so-called anti-terrorist operation from July 27, 1999, to February 1, 2001, units of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Interior Ministry, Border Troops, and other agencies lost 3,007 people. 8,771 people were injured. About 1,000 civilians were killed during this period.
According to official figures, the losses during 1999-2009 amounted to:
  • 3,725 servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces;
  • over 2,085 servicemen of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • 106 GRU and FSB officers;
  • 1072 Chechen and Dagestani loyalists.
In total, about 7,400 people died.

The deceased civilian population of Russia: 600 people (most - as a result of terrorist attacks in Russia by Chechen forces).

Chechnya: 14,113 militants killed. The death toll in Chechnya is estimated at more than 50,000.
Armed conflict in South Ossetia (Samachablo) and the Russian-Georgian war
August 1 - August 12, 2008
Photo: DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP via Getty Images

The reason for the conflict escalation
Until 2008, the conflict escalated near Georgia's borders, namely in the Kodori Gorge. During the Georgian-Abkhaz war (1992-1993), Svan militia units were formed here to fight on the Georgian side against the Abkhaz. Under the terms of the ceasefire and separation of arms agreement signed by the Georgian and Abkhaz sides on April 4, 1994 in Moscow, Georgian troops were to be withdrawn from the Kodori Gorge.

In 2004, the leader of the Georgian National Movement, Mikheil Saakashvili, became President of Georgia. In an interview on January 26, 2004, in response to a question from the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, the newly elected president stressed that "the region is under the control of Russian generals. It is open to other illegal activities."
Georgian refugees in an asylum in Tbilisi on August 20, 2008.
Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Meanwhile, the number of military and peacekeepers from Russia and Georgia has increased in the Kodori Gorge. The difficulty was that on paper the territories were assigned to Georgia, but in practice were uncontrolled. It was unknown who really should establish peace there. In 2007, Russia said that what was happening in the Kodori Gorge affected its security.

In the second half of July 2008, the Immediate Response joint Georgian-American exercises were held near Tbilisi, and the Russian exercises Kavkaz-2008 were held in the North Caucasus. Subsequently, Tbilisi and Moscow accused each other of the fact that these exercises actually became preparations for war.

The Georgian leadership claimed that Russia was the first to engage in hostilities, and Tbilisi entered the war for self-defense reasons after the Russian armed forces ended up on the territory of South Ossetia. Georgian authorities have presented printouts of telephone conversations, which they believe show that Russian tanks passed the Rokski Tunnel and invaded South Ossetia on August 7, before the Georgian military attacked Tskhinvali.

As a result, Russia accused Georgia of "aggression against South Ossetia" and on August 8 launched a full-scale air and sea invasion of Georgia, including its undisputed territory. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called it an operation to "enforce peace."
Photo: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP via Getty Images
The Russian Federation's role
In early July, volunteers from the Southern Federal District of Russia, including Cossacks and representatives of "Afghan" organizations, arrived in the conflict zone to take part in possible hostilities. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that "open aggression by Russia poses a threat to peace and security not only in Georgia but in the entire Caucasus region." Georgia has also said it is ready to respond to Russian aggression calmly but brutally.

Russia, hiding behind the Kavkaz-2008 military exercises, left a small grouping of the 58th Army near the border with South Ossetia, consisting of two reinforced motorized rifle battalions, which, in the event of a threat from Georgia, were supposed to enter the territory of the republic and provide assistance to the peacekeeping battalion.

The former commander of the 58th Army Anatoly Khrulyov said that these groups remained uninvolved, waiting for the completion of exercises on the other side of the tunnel and simply ensuring the passage of troops to places of permanent deployment.

According to the EU commission, Russia violated many norms even before the conflict. Prior to the war with Georgia, Moscow massively issued Russian passports to residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, only to begin allegedly protecting its citizens from Georgia.
Georgian child is playing with an empty Russian RPG-26 found in the conflict zone in South Ossetia. Tbilisi, Georgia, August 25, 2008. Photo: Cliff Volpe/Getty Images
What happened?
On August 7, 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered Georgian troops to cease fire and urged South Ossetian citizens to do the same. On the night of August 8, 2008, Georgian troops launched artillery shelling of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, and surrounding areas. The "president" of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity reported numerous casualties among civilians in the region and accused the Georgian president of genocide against the Ossetian people.

On August 8, Russia launched an invasion of Georgia. Russian and Abkhaz troops opened a second front, attacking the Kodori Gorge, which was held by Georgia. The Russian navy has blocked part of Georgia's Black Sea coast. Russian aircraft attacked targets both inside and outside the conflict zone.

On August 9, the UN held a meeting at which Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow would not agree to a ceasefire, as Georgian troops are still in South Ossetia. Although the UN called for an end to the war, Russia still sent troops to Tskhinvali. On August 10, Russia and Georgia exchanged artillery strikes.

On August 11, Russian troops launched an offensive, crossed the demarcation line between Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Georgia, and began advancing inland. Fighting continued around Tskhinvali with Georgian units cut off from the main forces. Russian aircraft struck targets in Georgia.
South Ossetian woman looks at the bodies of Georgian soldiers in Tskhinvali, Georgia, August 13, 2008.
Photo: DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP via Getty Images
Already on August 12, the fighting ended. The Russian military, along with South Ossetian militias, pushed Georgian troops out of South Ossetia and stopped near Tbilisi.

On the same day, French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Moscow to agree with Medvedev on a plan to resolve the conflict. The plan called for an end to hostilities and the withdrawal of Georgian and Russian troops to positions they occupied at the beginning of the conflict. At a meeting with Sarkozy, Medvedev officially announced the end of the war.

Active hostilities ceased, but Russian troops remained in Georgia until August 16.
Russian army's advance on the territory of Georgia on August 8-16, 2008
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
In December 2008, the European Union set up the International Commission of Inquiry into the South Caucasus War in August 2008. On September 30, 2009, the commission published its final report. It concludes that the war was started by Georgia and that Russia's previous actions were limited to months of fighting and tensions on all sides.

According to the UN, more than 118,000 people have become refugees as a result of the conflict. At the same time, about 30,000 South Ossetian refugees are in Russia, another 15,000 ethnic Georgians have moved from South Ossetia to Georgia, and another 73,000 have fled their homes in Georgia, including most Gori residents. But for the period from 12 to 20 August 2008, 17.9 thousand people returned to South Ossetia.
Russian soldier in an armored personnel carrier on August 22, 2008 near Igoeti, on the way from Tbilisi to Gori, Georgia.
Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
However, people are afraid to return to the villages adjacent to South Ossetia: they remain a zone of increased danger. Looting, hostage-taking, and burning of houses continue here.

Russia has turned from a peacemaker in the South Caucasus region into a participant in the conflict. Almost immediately after the end of hostilities, on August 25, 2008, the Kremlin declared recognition of the state independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This move allowed Moscow to strengthen its military presence in the region by establishing bases in these territories. Russia also started to provide both regions with its financial support.

The defeat in the five-day war with Russia almost completely deprived Tbilisi of its chances of resolving the conflict with the two rebel regions in the near future. After the war, the Georgian leadership hardly cooperated with the authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Over time, contact between residents of border regions have been minimized.
A woman sweeps around the body of 59-year-old Aleko Bibilashvili after being exhumed from a temporary grave on August 25, 2008, in Karalet, Georgia. Photo: Cliff Volpe/Getty Images
As a result of the August war, the position of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was significantly shaken. His party was defeated in the October 2012 parliamentary elections. And a year later, without waiting for the end of the presidential term, he flew abroad.

Russian troops are still in Georgia, controlling part of it. During the conflict, both sides held prisoners and hostages. The Ossetian side captured several dozen Georgian soldiers and more than 150 civilians.

The losses of the Russian side as a result of the war with Georgia are unknown. It is believed that 67 Russian servicemen were killed, 283 were wounded, and three people are missing.

At the same time, the losses of the Georgian army were officially announced in 2008 and amounted to 410 servicemen and 14 policemen, and up to 2,000 people were wounded.
Annexation of Crimea
February 20, 2014 – present
Two women with a child stand next to Russian paramilitaries near the Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalne near Simferopol, March 11, 2014. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Two women with a child stand next to Russian paramilitaries near the Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalne near Simferopol, March 11, 2014. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
This event was preceded by the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine - months of anti-presidential and anti-government rallies, which ended with the escape and removal of Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency in February 2014. His place was temporarily taken by the then Speaker of Ukraine's Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov. In Crimea, Russian propaganda presented these events as a "coup d'etat."
What happened?
During February 23 and 24, under pressure from pro-Russian activists in Sevastopol, the government changed - the head of the city instead of Vladimir Yatsuba became the so-called "people's mayor" Alexei Chaly. Two days later, on February 26, two rallies took place near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol: on the one hand, there were supporters of the Crimean Tatar Majlis and the new Ukrainian government, on the other - pro-Russian activists, members of the Russian Unity Party and its then leader and the future "head of Crimea" Sergei Aksyonov. As a result of the rallies, two people died: one man had a heart attack; another woman was trampled in the crowd.

On the morning of February 27, Russian Special Forces occupied the buildings of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea authorities in the center of Simferopol. On the same day, members of Crimean Parliament gathered in the seized parliament building, dismissed the government of then-Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilev and appointed Aksyonov, leader of the Russian Unity Party, in his place. He then declared non-recognition of the new leadership of Ukraine, and added that the Russian government "contributes to peace in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea."
The Russian Federation's role
Numerous armed groups have been deployed in Crimea since February 27. On the one hand, these were groups of Russian soldiers without signs - Russian propaganda called them "polite people." They acted on the orders of their own leadership and did not obey local authorities. On the other hand, there were self-defense units consisting of locals, Berkut Special Forces, Cossacks, and representatives of various Russian public organizations who came to Crimea to "protect their compatriots."

On March 1, the Federation Council officially allowed Vladimir Putin to use Russian troops in Ukraine, although they were already in Crimea at the time.

Russian servicemen, together with detachments of volunteers, blocked all facilities and military units of Ukraine's Armed Forces of on the peninsula, which command refused to submit to the new Crimean government.
Preparing the polling station before the so-called referendum on Crimea's "accession" to Russia. Simferopol, March 15, 2014. Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
On March 16, a referendum was held in Crimea, where residents of the peninsula were asked to choose between "the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation" and "the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine." Not only did the referendum contradict the Ukrainian constitution, but it was also held with numerous violations - in particular, non-citizens of Ukraine could vote, one person could vote several times, and even Soviet passports were accepted as proof of identity.

The results were announced an hour after the polls closed. The actual annexation of the peninsula was allegedly supported by 96.57% of Crimeans, and 82.71% of all Crimean residents took part in the referendum.

On March 17, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has proclaimed the independent Republic of Crimea. And the next day, March 18, 2014, Putin together with representatives of the illegal authorities of the peninsula - Sergei Aksyonov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Alexei Chaly - signed an agreement recognizing Crimea as part of Russia.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
On April 15, 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine determined the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as temporarily occupied. Apart from Ukraine, the annexation of the peninsula has not been recognized by the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and most countries around the world, including the United States and the European Union. In addition, Russia's seizure of Crimea violates a number of international agreements, including the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Guarantees for Ukraine, which was signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin along with the then leaders of Ukraine, Britain, and the United States.

The Russian occupation had serious economic consequences for both the peninsula and Russia. After 2014, the ruble lost its position significantly, so prices for all goods in Crimea immediately began to rise. In response to Russia's aggression, international sanctions began to be applied against the country, its leaders, state-owned enterprises, etc. Private business has been leaving the peninsula since 2014 to avoid falling victim to economic constraints. Currently, not only international but also Russian companies that are afraid of sanctions are almost not represented in Crimea.

In fact, Crimea has been cut off from the world. Diplomas issued by Russian-controlled Crimean universities are recognized only by Russia, international payment systems Visa and MasterCard do not work on the peninsula - instead only the Russian Mir system operates, and the rebuilt Simferopol International Airport operates flights only between Crimea and Russian cities.

Currently, the problem of water supply in Crimea has not been solved - the North Crimean Canal, blocked in 2014 by Ukraine, provided 85% of the peninsula's water needs, and the loss of this water led to a reduction in the cultivation of water-intensive crops. However, viticulture was able to adapt to the conditions of water shortage: both the area and the harvest from vineyards increased. After the start of a full-scale Russian war in Ukraine in February 2022, the occupiers blew up a dam that did not let Dnipro water into Crimea.

For Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, along with geopolitical, military, and domestic political consequences, is associated with economic losses - in particular, with the "nationalization" of state property on the peninsula, which was actually seized by the Crimean and Russian authorities.
Russian warships, including the captured Ukrainian corvette Khmelnytsky (2nd right), were moored in Sevastopol Bay on March 24, 2014. Photo: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP via Getty Images
Together with the peninsula, Ukraine lost two-thirds of its navy. Although an agreement was reached to withdraw all Ukrainian ships and aircraft from Crimea, Russia later suspended the transfer of military equipment, referring to the actions of the Ukrainian security forces in eastern Ukraine. Although it did not rule out the possibility of its restoration in the future.

Behind the visual facade of improvements (construction of a new airport terminal in Simferopol, opening of the Tavrida highway and a bridge across the Kerch Strait) for all these 8 years in Crimea many human rights violations have been recorded. This includes compulsory passportization, as without Russian-style documents Crimeans will not be able to get a job and receive medical treatment, as well as conscription into the Russian army. And also the mass persecution of Crimean people through religion (including the numerous Hizb ut-Tahrir cases) and political views took place. According to the Let My People Go human rights organization, the number of illegally detained Crimean citizens today is 127.

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to repeat that Crimea was seized without a drop of blood, but this is a lie. One of the first victims of the occupation was 39-year-old Reshat Ametov from Simferopol. On March 3, 2014, he went to the Crimean government building with a single picket, condemning Russia's actions in Crimea. And for some time he went missing - the last time he was seen alive accompanied by men in camouflage, who put him in a car and took him in an unknown direction. On March 15, his body, buried shallowly in the ground, was accidentally found by a resident of the village of Zemlyanychne, Bilogirsky District. There were traces of torture on Ametov's body and two stab wounds on his head.

In addition, two Ukrainian servicemen were killed during the Russian annexation of Crimea - Ensign Serhiy Kokurin and Major Stanislav Karachevsky.

According to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, as of 2021, the number of IDPs from Crimea reached about 49 thousand people. However, according to the head of the Crimea SOS NGO Denys Savchenko, the number of Crimeans who are temporarily or permanently on the territory of mainland Ukraine is at least 100 thousand people.
War in Donbas
April 2014 - present
A soldier is among the wreckage at the gate of Donetsk airport. September 18, 2016.
Photo: Joao Bolan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A soldier is among the wreckage at the gate of Donetsk airport. September 18, 2016. Photo: Joao Bolan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
In 2014, clashes and conflicts broke out in Donbas, in which Russian special services were involved. On September 25, 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia for the first time officially named the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine "Novorossiya". Earlier, on April 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin called southeastern Ukraine the same.

Pro-Russian forces in a number of regions of the country (including Donbas), inspired by the Crimean events, sought to repeat the Crimean scenario in their regions, and moved from "simple rejection" of the new Ukrainian government to active resistance and overthrow of its local supporters. On the other hand, the new Ukrainian government, trying to prevent a repeat of the Crimean scenario, announced the start of military operations against protesters who seized administrative buildings in the east of the country.

One of the key figures was Russian and former FSB officer Igor Girkin (Strelkov). He helped to annex Crimea, organized a gathering of Crimean MPs to create a referendum, and commanded the storming of a photogrammetric center in Simferopol. In April 2014, with his detachment, he crossed the border of Ukraine in the Donetsk region led to the seizure of Sloviansk, thus starting the war in Donbas.
Key events of the Russian invasion of Donbas from 2014 to February 24, 2022
What happened?
The fighting in Donbas began on April 12, 2014, when Russian troops led by Russian special services captured the Ukrainian cities of Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and Druzhkivka. In the seized Ministry of Internal Affairs offices, Russian saboteurs handed over the confiscated weapons to the locals and accepted the collaborators into their ranks.

On May 11, 2014, referendums were held in some districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Roman Lyagin was the head of the CEC in the illegal "referendum". The referendums raised only one question in support of the state independence of the so-called DNR and LNR republics proclaimed in April. The question was: "Do you support the act of state independence of the Luhansk People's Republic?". The answer was only "yes" or "no". The referendums were illegal and contradicted the constitution of Ukraine.

According to the referendum organizers, 96.2% voted in favor and 3.8% were against. According to KIIS research, in May 2014 only 30% of the population of Luhansk and Donetsk regions wanted to join Russia. Due to the non-recognition of the referendum by most countries and international organizations, there were no international observers. Numerous voting irregularities were also reported.

On June 20, 2014, Petro Poroshenko, who won the presidential election in Ukraine, ordered the anti-terrorist operation forces from Friday, June 20 to June 27, 2014, to cease hostilities in the terrorist-occupied territories of Ukraine and called on the militants to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Donbas issue. At the same time, negotiations took place at the level of the Contact Group for the Peaceful Settlement of the Situation in Eastern Ukraine. The so-called Prime Minister of the DNR Alexander Borodai said that the "militia" undertakes to cease fire and stop any movement of troops in Donbas. However, the occupiers violated the agreement, and on June 24, a Ukrainian helicopter was shot down near Slovyansk, killing nine people. In fact, Russia has shown that there will be no agreements and continued the offensive deep into Ukraine.

On July 1, 2014, Ukrainian security forces launched a full-scale military operation with an active counteroffensive along the entire front line and the total isolation of the conflict zone from military support of the Russian Federation.

In July 2014, the Armed Forces of Ukraine finally liberated Artemivsky, Maryinsky, and Slovyansky districts of the Donetsk region. In the Luhansk region, the battles for the cities lasted until September 5. At the same time, on July 17, 2014, a Boeing 777 passenger plane of Malaysia Airlines flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur (flight MH17) was shot down between the villages of Grabove and Rozsypne in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, controlled by the DNR militants. The attack killed 298 people - citizens of the Netherlands, Malaysia, and 16 other countries.

Until August, the Armed Forces generally successfully drove the occupying forces out of Ukrainian territories. But in August 2014, a massive invasion of Russian Armed Forces battalion tactical groups on the territory of Ukraine began. Various sources indicate that about four of them invaded Luhansk region and four more got to Donetsk region.

Since mid-August 2014, Ukrainian security forces have been fighting near Ilovaisk, but have been forced to stop due to a lack of forces for the final capture of the city. At the initial stage, Ukrainian troops surrounded pro-Russian militants, but on August 24, a significant number of regular Russian troops entered the rear of the Ukrainian group, changing the course of the fighting. Ukrainian troops were surrounded.

The route of the Ukrainian troops' exit from Ilovaisk along the "green corridor" in two columns was discussed with the Russian side. However, on the night of August 28-29, the Russian side handed over to the then Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Viktor Muzhenko a condition to leave without equipment. It was not accepted by the Ukrainian troops. They planned to make a breakthrough on August 29 at 3 o'clock in the morning.

At the same time, on August 29, Kremlin's website called on terrorists to "open a humanitarian corridor" for the besieged Ukrainian military. The Armed Forces decided to follow the previously agreed route, dividing into two columns: the northern one with the code name Bulava and the southern one with the code name Viter. But this operation turned out to be a trap: Russian troops fired on both columns.

On August 27, 2019, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published data on the losses in the battles near Ilovaisk in August 2014: 229 dead, 270 wounded, 423 missing. As of 2019, 10 people were still held hostage.

These events led to the conclusion of the first Minsk agreements, under which both sides were to cease fire. However, militants and Russian troops ignored the agreements and continued daily shelling of Ukrainian military positions.

In total, since the signing of the Minsk Agreements in late October 2015, Russian troops have violated the ceasefire over 2,000 times.

In January-February 2015, fighting for Donetsk airport resumed. Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the DNR, announced his intentions to seize the airport. At the time, airport defenders held the second floor of the new terminal building, and the first and third were controlled by pro-Russian militants. The battles for the Donetsk airport became a symbol of the invincibility of the Ukrainian army, and the defenders of the terminals were named Cyborgs.
In January, Russian militants shelled the airport with grenade launchers. On January 19, they blew up part of the ceiling on the second floor. The blast killed many Ukrainian defenders. Due to the downed connection, help did not arrive, and Russian troops stormed the airport. As a result, the Ukrainian military suffered casualties, some were taken prisoner. During the entire period of stay of Ukrainians at the Donetsk airport, more than 200 people were killed and more than 500 were injured.

With the fall of the Donetsk airport, Russian militants launched an offensive on Debaltseve, or Debaltseve bridgehead. As of the beginning of 2015, Ukrainian forces were holding the Debaltseve ledge: Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk, Ridkodub, Chornukhyne settlements. The number of Ukrainian forces was estimated at 2,500. 15,000 to 17,000 enemy personnel fought against them. In addition, Russia sent a significant number of the military to Debaltseve. Thus, on February 18, large formations of local armed men and Russian mercenaries, equipment, and weapons were transferred from Stakhanov.

In fierce battles, Ukrainian troops lost some positions. Thus, during the battles for Logvinove, the Ukrainian army got into a cauldron, from which it was quite difficult to withdraw troops. Those events led to the second Minsk agreements.

After that, from the end of February 2015 to February 24, 2022, positional battles continued on Ukrainian territory: the attack on Maryinka in 2015, the battles on the Svitlodarska arch, the battles for Avdiivka and Bakhmutka. As of June 2017, there were 34,000 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the anti-terrorist operation zone.

In 2018, Russia blocked Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov. Russia is also beginning to recruit troops under the guise of exercises on the border with Ukraine. As of August 2017, there was constant local fighting, and Ukrainian border guards reported shelling and injuries every day.

In 2019, the Ukrainian side agreed to disengagement of troops, withdrew from its positions in Stanytsia Luhanska, and removed the checkpoints. The Russian did not do any of this. The escalation of the conflict was exacerbated by Russia's non-compliance with agreements and the moving of troops from Russia and Belarus to Ukraine's borders.
The Russian Federation's role
Despite numerous facts about the Russian Armed Forces' participation and evidence of Russia's involvement in the war, Russia does not officially recognize the fact of its invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

Now the Russian Federation has adapted the temporarily occupied territories of the so-called LNR and DNR. Only rubles are valid in this territory. Local residents receive Russian passports.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
During the 8 years of war in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian terrorists massively detained journalists, activists, and volunteers. To date, at least 26 locations have been recorded in the occupied territories, where the militants' concentration camps and places of mass burial of their victims are located.

Prisoners are subjected to severe torture and physical and sexual abuse. And their relatives are often demanded to pay ransom for dismissal - depending on the family's wealth, the amount varies from 5 to 50 thousand dollars.

There is a large number of refugees from the eastern part of Ukraine. As of February 20, 2017, since the beginning of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, almost 1,800,000 people have become internally displaced persons.

As of 2019, 251 people have officially been held hostage in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and 410 people are missing.

Ukraine's losses from April 14, 2014, to January 31, 2021, amounted to 42,000-44,000: of which 13,100-13,300 were killed (at least 3,375 civilians, about 4,150 Ukrainian military, and about 5,700 members of armed groups).

29,500-33,500 were wounded, including 7,000-9,000 civilians, 9,700-10,700 Ukrainian servicemen and 12,700-13,700 members of armed groups.

The war in eastern Ukraine revealed a problem of lack of psychological assistance to the military after the fighting. At least 554 of them committed suicide during the anti-terrorist operation.

Total losses of Russia:

According to the UN, in 2019, among the militants of the DNR / LNR, 5,650 were killed, 12,500-13,500 were wounded

No country in the world has recognized the independence of the so-called republics. The standard of living in the occupied parts of Ukraine has fallen sharply.
Russian military operation in Syria
September 30, 2015 - present
Destructions in Idlib province, Syria, February 28, 2021.
Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Destructions in Idlib province, Syria, February 28, 2021. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
Syria gained independence in 1946 as a result of many coups. Another military coup in 1963 brought the Ba'ath party to power. Soon another coup took place in 1966, as a result of which its leaders were overthrown. The leader of the Syrian faction of the Ba'ath party, Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad, seized power in the country, declared himself president, and ruled until his death in 2000. After that, the ruling party did not change. Ba'ath remained Syria's only ruling party and its citizens could only approve the president in a referendum but not hold multiparty parliamentary elections.

At the same time, the Islamist movement was disintegrating throughout the country. Assad used scorched earth tactics in the battles for the city of Hama to suppress the uprising of the Sunni Islamist communities.

After the death of Hafez al-Assad, his son, Bashar al-Assad, succeeded him. Bashar expressed hope that the Syrian government would make some concessions in order to liberalize socio-political relations. This is how the so-called Damascus Spring was formed - political debates lasted from 2000 to 2001, and many forums were created where people could discuss social and political issues. However, the initiative ended in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of activists calling for democratic elections and civil disobedience campaigns. Syria remained under one-party rule.

Religious issues in Syria have escalated since 2006. Some politicians have accused others of inciting citizens to revolt. In such riots, the Syrian authorities defended themselves by relying on armed groups led by relatives or individuals close to Bashar al-Assad.

In addition, human rights have been constantly violated during times of unrest in Syria. In fact, from the moment the ruling Ba'ath Party was created in 1963 until 2011, the country was in a state of emergency. The law enforcement agencies were given broad powers to arrest and detain citizens.

Human rights activists were harassed, and the government banned websites such as Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube. Women and national minorities were discriminated against if they wanted to be statesmen or enter politics. Thousands of Syrian Kurds were stripped of their citizenship in 1962, and their descendants remained "foreigners" until April 6, 2011, when 120,000 of the approximately 200,000 Kurds became Syrian citizens.

All this in 2011 led to the civil war in Syria and the uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Subsequently, various military-political groups and international organizations joined the conflict. Russia has been actively involved in it since 2015.
What happened?
In March 2013, Bashar al-Assad was accused of using chemical weapons during the storming of Aleppo. This was also reported by the intelligence services of the UK, France, Israel, and the United States. The results of a blood test of several people who were in the city during the assault revealed signs of sarin use. However, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zobi denied that the Syrian military had chemical weapons and that they used them.

From March to August 2013, various political groups argued over the presence or absence of chemical weapons in Syria. Many studies have been conducted by various international organizations. Despite the lack of reliable evidence of the use of chemical weapons and who used them, the United States has begun preparations for military intervention in Syria.

In general, the conflict in Syria is often perceived as part of a covert war between Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, which support opposition-led Sunnis, and Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which support pro-government Alawite forces. In fact, Syria no longer belongs to the Syrians due to the intervention of international players. Therefore, the war there has been going on for more than 10 years.

Most countries have condemned the Syrian government for using weapons against civilians and refused to intervene in the conflict. But some countries were still involved. For example, Israel launched several airstrikes on airports, Israeli ammunition depots in Syria, and the Jamraya Research Center on the outskirts of Damascus.
A Syrian man mourns the bodies of relatives killed in a Russian airstrike on a market and residential area in Ariha, Idlib province, northern Syria, November 29, 2015. Photo: Mohammed Amin Qourabi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Some countries have severed relations with the Assad government - among them the Gulf states, Libya, Tunisia, Britain, Spain, Turkey, the United States, and Belgium. Canada closed the visa section but left the embassy in Damascus.

Turkey has helped the Syrian opposition and Syrian dissidents were hostile to the Assad government and helped to unite opposition factions. Russia initially said it would not enter the conflict, but later supported the Syrian government.

The riots in Syria have not stopped since 2015. For 7 years, various countries have alternately taken part in the war in Syria, fighting either on the side of the opposition or on the side of the government, which only deepens the conflict and creates an additional escalation. Missile strikes on the country were inflicted by the United States, Britain, and France. Russia actively intervened with its fighters and ships.
The Russian Federation's role
Russia's intervention significantly changed the balance of power in favor of Assad, helping him to recapture Aleppo and other important cities.

On September 30, 2015, the Security Council of the Russian Federation gave Vladimir Putin permission to use the Russian Armed Forces abroad. In particular, the use of the air force in Syria was envisaged.

After that, Russia three times announced the curtailment of the military operation and its contingent in Syria but still continued to participate in hostilities.

According to Amnesty International, in three months (December 2015 to February 2016), the Russian air and space forces and government forces in Syria have targeted hospitals, medical centers, and clinics in northern rural Aleppo at least six times, as a result of which many women, children, and civilians died. In December 2015, the organization said it had evidence that Russian aircraft were suspected of using unguided bombs in densely populated areas and as well as cluster bombs. Russia also supplied weapons and equipment to Syria.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
The conflict has been frozen since March 2019, there is almost no fighting, but there is still no political solution to the situation. Assad regained control of most of Syria. Today the country is divided into three parts. Two of them are supported by the United States and Turkey. Also, the military of Russia, the United States, and Turkey are still in eastern Syria.

During the war, 46 cases of violations of the laws or customs of war were reported, including the use of cluster munitions, which directly or indirectly damaged civilian facilities and infrastructure in Idlib.
The bodies of children killed in Russian airstrikes in residential areas of Aleppo, Syria, February 14, 2016. Photo: Beha El-Halebi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The war in Syria has also caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Nearly half a million people have died, and over half of the population - more than 12 million (UNHCR) - have been forced to flee their homes.

More than 90% live on the edge of poverty. Entire cities have been destroyed, and less than half of all hospitals in the country are functioning. The economy, undermined by a decade of war, lies in ruins.

More than half of Syria's remaining population, 12.4 million, is on the brink of starvation (according to the UN World Food Program). Many people live below the poverty line. The price of the minimum set of products per month (bread, rice, lentils, butter, and sugar) exceeds the average salary. By 2020, Russia's official casualties during the Syrian war are 112. The unofficial ones are 183-283. Russia also lost 19 planes and helicopters.

According to various sources, about 67,388-102,388 Syrian soldiers and police were killed.
The man mourns the death of seven members of his family who died at home as a result of pro-regime forces airstrike in the city of Sarmin, northern Syrian province of Idlib, on February 2, 2020.
Photo: Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine
February 24, 2022 - present
Street in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 20, 2022.
Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Street in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 20, 2022. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The reason for the conflict escalation
In fact, the Russian war against Ukraine has not stopped since 2014, but in February 2022 it gained much more momentum. The possible full-scale invasion of the Russian army during the 8 years of the war was repeatedly discussed. However, they began to discuss it as a real threat in the spring of 2021, when military equipment and personnel began to be massively transferred to the borders of Russia and Ukraine under the guise of exercises. In November of the same year, their number increased even more. The build-up of Russian troops took place not only in the territory of the aggressor country but also in Belarus, the occupied Crimea, and the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk not controlled by Kyiv.

At the same time, foreign media began to talk about the Kremlin's plans to invade Ukraine. They published intelligence data on the ways of the Russian army's offensive and the possible division of Ukraine in the event of its capture.
The Russian Federation's role
On February 17, 2022, a significant aggravation began in the combat zone in Donbas. The militants of the unrecognized LNR and DNR republics violated the ceasefire dozens of times, shelling Ukrainian positions along the entire demarcation line. And in the next two days, the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics first announced a mass evacuation to Russia, and then the general mobilization of all men aged 18 to 55 years.

On February 21, at a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, the aggressor country recognized the pseudo-republics as sovereign states. The relevant decrees stated that the "functions of maintaining peace" in the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions will be performed by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. That same evening, Russian TV broadcast a speech by Vladimir Putin, in which he stated that Ukraine was created by Lenin, so Russia can show what "the real decommunization" is.

Three days later, on the morning of February 24, the President of the Russian Federation made an "emergency appeal" to the citizens of the country. According to him, the DNR and LNR have asked him for help, so Russia is launching a "special military operation."

"Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years. To this end, we will seek the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. We will also prosecute those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation," he said.

This is how Putin actually declared war on Ukraine.

As in previous wars, the Kremlin did not call the invasion of Ukraine a war. Moreover, the country quickly passed a law punishing up to 15 years in prison for using the word "war" because it allegedly discredits the actions of the Russian military.
What happened?
Fifteen minutes after Putin's morning speech, missile strikes were heard in many Ukrainian cities as the Russian army launched an offensive. Within hours, martial law was imposed in the country, local authorities in various regions began to impose curfews, Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on general mobilization, and Ukraine severed diplomatic relations with Russia.

On the first day, the Russians targeted the military infrastructure of Ukraine: airports, airfields, warehouses, military facilities of the Ukrainian army, etc. In addition, the occupiers began to conduct ground operations (including the capture of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, Kakhovka HPP, North Crimean Canal) and attacks from the sea (attack on Snake Island).
A woman was injured in an airstrike on a residential complex near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. Photo: Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Belarusian army also helped the occupiers. On the very first day, several ballistic missiles were launched from the territory of the republic towards Ukraine. In addition, part of Russian troops entered Ukraine from Belarus. Later, the self-proclaimed President of the Republic Oleksandr Lukashenko explained this by the fact that Ukraine was allegedly preparing an attack on Belarus: "Therefore, we did not unleash this war, our conscience is clear."

According to the results of the first day, 57 civilian Ukrainians and 137 military personnel became victims of the war. The invaders lost about 800 personnel and more than 170 units of various equipment.

In the following days, shelling and fighting continued. Conventionally, the offensive of Russian troops could be divided into four directions: Kyiv (through Chernihiv and Sumy regions), Kharkiv, and south (Kherson, Mariupol, Zaporizhia), as well as LNR and DNR unrecognized republics. Yes, the Russian army tried to take Kharkiv several times, but without success.

Since the beginning of the war, the Russian authorities and propagandist media have been constantly spreading the thesis that the army is hitting only military targets - the same thing they said during the wars in other countries. However, these statements quickly became lies. As early as February 25, Russia fired on a residential complex in the town of Okhtyrka, Sumy region from Uragan multiple launch rocket systems - bomb shelters and a kindergarten were damaged. And that was just the beginning.

During March, Russian troops captured Kherson, destroyed almost all communications in Chernihiv, laid siege to Mariupol, and hit the city with airstrikes. In the first three weeks, about 100 bombs were dropped on the city. Russia has openly targeted civilian homes and storage facilities. In particular, the bomb was dropped on a maternity hospital and a drama theater, where children, women and the elderly were hiding.
Black smoke over the military airfield in Chuguyiv near Kharkiv, February 24, 2022.
Photo: RIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
At the same time, Russia announced through all federal channels that there had been no one in the maternity hospital for a long time and Azov military personnel were hiding there. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that the bombing of the hospital and maternity hospital in Mariupol was a conscious and purposeful decision of the Russian army, calling the maternity hospital a military facility.

The blockade in Mariupol has been going on since March 1: there is no electricity, water, gas, heating, or mobile communication in the city. It is impossible to deliver water, food, medicine, and children's goods to the people under siege. The first humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents were opened only on March 14. According to Ukrainian authorities, 140,000 people left the city before the blockade, and 150,000 were evacuated after the start. Another 170,000 as of March 28 were still under siege. At least 5,000 Mariupol residents died, about 210 of them children.
On February 28, the first stage of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine began. At this time, the parties established a ceasefire, but as soon as the talks ended, Russia shelled Kyiv and Kharkiv. Russia's conditions in the talks were of an ultimatum nature: to carry out so-called "demilitarization" and "denazification" in Ukraine, to provide legal protection to the Russian language, and to consolidate the country's neutral status at the constitutional level. They meant the refusal to develop nuclear weapons and deploy military bases of other states on the territory of Ukraine. Official Kyiv, on the other hand, spoke of a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and compensation for the destruction.

Following the results of six rounds and a tripartite meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey on March 30, the parties announced the first draft of the peace treaty, which was developed and agreed upon by the Ukrainian side. In particular, Ukraine is ready to refuse to join NATO and other military-political alliances but instead seeks to obtain effective security guarantees from other countries. The United Kingdom, China, the United States, France, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Poland, Canada, Israel, and other countries can become signatories of such an agreement. Russia must be there as well. The draft agreement does not regulate the status of the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea. However, the agreement mentions that Ukraine has not been going to return Crimea by military means for 15 years.

Russia, on the other hand, "in order to increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations," decided to reduce the activity of its troops in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.

At 5 a.m. on April 1, the Russian media reported that Russian marines were "cleaning up" settlements in the direction of Gostomel-Bucha-Ozera in the Kyiv region in order to gain a foothold there. But later that day, Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk announced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had liberated the city from occupiers who had kept it under control since February 25.

The Russian army left behind hundreds of dead civilians - tortured, shot in the head, with their hands tied, scattered right in the middle of the road, thrown into mass graves. The Mayor of Bucha also said that 90% of the bodies had bullet wounds, not debris. The same picture was revealed in other settlements liberated from the Russians in the Kyiv region: Borodyanka, Vorzel, Motyzhyn, etc.
Russian authorities called the video and photos of the killed Bucha residents fakes and provocations.

Russia's war against Ukraine has been going on for more than 40 days. The main efforts of the occupiers are focused on the capture of Mariupol, conducting an offensive near the city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region, and attempts to break through the defenses in the Donetsk direction. Moreover, in the case of Kharkiv, the Russians continue to blockade the city and strike it with artillery.

At the same time, the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine notes that the enemy has not refused to attack Kyiv again: "The situation remains tense. The enemy has retreated, he is now refocusing his directions and in the near future will try to take control of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and then we should expect another attack on the capital," said Deputy Chief of Staff of the Land Forces Command Oleksiy Gruzevych.

In addition to the occupied Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, on the 43rd day of the war, Kherson and most of the Kherson region, the cities of Energodar, Berdyansk, and Melitopol in the Zaporizhia region, Stanytsia Luhanska and surrounding villages in Donetsk region are under Russian control.
What did the Russian intervention lead to?
Since February 21, when Russia recognized the independence of the DNR and LNR quasi-republics, the United States, the European Union, and a number of other countries have imposed five packages of sanctions against the aggressor country. In particular, half of the reserves of the Russian Federation's Central Bank held in the G7 banks were frozen, five Russian banks were disconnected from SWIFT, and Russian propaganda media were banned from broadcasting. In addition, personal sanctions apply to both the "top" of the Russian government and those who have played a role in threatening Ukraine's sovereignty and independence.

To date, more than 40 countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines, including all members of the EU, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

As a result of the sanctions and in solidarity with Ukraine, international companies began to leave Russia en masse and suspend their activities. Among them are banks and international payment systems, food and medicine manufacturers, automakers, clothing and footwear brands, manufacturers of various equipment, and more. Russians have been banned from participating in international sports competitions, book and film festivals. And a number of services, applications, and computer and mobile games are no longer available to Russian users. Russia is currently the most sanctioned country in the world. A detailed list of sanctions can be found here.

Russia did not comment on the loss of its army for the first week. On the seventh day of the war, the Russian Defense Ministry reported 498 dead and 1,597 wounded soldiers. On the same day, Ukraine published the figure of 9,000 dead occupiers.

During more than 40 days of the war in Ukraine, seven Russian generals were killed: Lieutenant Generals Andrei Mordvichev and Yakov Rezantsev, as well as Majors Generals Magomed Tushayev, Andrei Sukhovetsky, Vitaly Gerasimov, Andrei Kolesnikov and Oleg Mityaev.

As of April 11, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the loss of personnel in the Russian army was about 19.5 thousand people. At the end of March, the Russian Defense Ministry put the figure at over 1,300 killed and more than 3,800 wounded. However, on April 7, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview that Russia had suffered "significant losses of troops," but did not name any figures.

There is no exact information about the killed Ukrainian soldiers from official sources (Zaborona wrote about why these data should be classified during the war). On March 12, during a briefing with foreign journalists, Volodymyr Zelensky named an estimated Ukrainian loss of about 1,300 people.

There is currently no complete information on the deaths among the civilian population of Ukraine. According to UN estimates, 1,480 people, including 123 children, were killed between February 24 and April 4. 2,195 people were injured, 183 of them children. At the same time, the organization notes that the real losses are much higher. On April 7, the Office of the Prosecutor General announced the figure of 167 killed children and 297 wounded.

About 4.3 million Ukrainians were forced to leave the country, and more than 7 million became internal refugees.
Shot minivan in the center of Bucha, April 3, 2022. Photo: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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