Northern Eurasia 2014: Crimean Crisis
In 2010 Ukraine elected a pro-Russian president, only to overthrow him in a revolution four years later when he rejected reforms and closer ties with Europe in favor of a Russian loan. Russia responded by massing troops on the Ukrainian border and providing covert military support for a separatist revolt in the Ukrainian republic of Crimea.
1 Apr 2009 2009 expansion of NATO▲
On 1 April 2009, Vilnius Group members Albania and Croatia joined NATO, as well as France, whose relations with the United States had improved.
30 Jun 2009–18 Dec 2011 US withdrawal from Iraq▲
Following international and domestic pressure, the United States and its remaining Coalition partners planned in 2007 to withdraw from Iraq. In accordance with a Status of Forces agreement, US withdrawal began on 30 June 2009 and completed on 18 December 2011, officially ending the Iraq War.
6 Apr–10 Oct 2010 Second Kyrgyz Revolution▲
In April 2010 demonstrations broke out in Kyrgyzstan, promoted in part by an anti-government campaign by the Russian-dominated media. Within days President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had lost power in the countryside; a week later he resigned and fled to Belarus. Bakiyev’s departure only led to escalating riots and ethnic violence continued, and it was not until October that a new, parliamentary, government was introduced.
23 Apr 2010–pres. European Debt Crisis▲
As part of the 1993 Treaty of Maastricht, EU member states had agreed to limit deficit spending, but this was largely ignored, and became impracticable during the Great Recession. As a result, many poorer Eurozone members had their credit downgraded and responded by imposing aggressive austerity measures, further stagnating their economies and fomenting political unrest.
2 May 2011 Death of Osama bin Laden▲
In Operation Neptune Spear, United States Navy SEALs of the US Naval Special Development Group (DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six) raided Osama bin Laden’s secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The CIA-led operation killed bin Laden—who was leader of Al-Qaeda and orchestrator of the September 11 Attacks on the US—and took his body back to Afghanistan for identification before burying him at sea. The action caused tensions between the US and Pakistan, with the latter running an investigation into how bin Laden had been hiding in their country for nine years without being detected.
29 Jul 2011 Syrian Civil War▲
The 2003-11 Iraq War had caused 1.5 million refugees to enter Syria. This, in addition to a severe drought in the Syrian countryside, dramatically increased public disapproval of President Bashar al-Assad. Protests against Assad inspired by the Arab Spring were violently suppressed until several military officers defected to form the Free Syrian Army, officially igniting civil war.
18–23 Feb 2014 Euromaidan Revolution▲
In February 2010 pro-Russian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych was elected to power in Ukraine and imprisoned pro-Western former Prime Minster Yulia Tymoshenko. When Yanukovych announced he would sign an association agreement with the European Union—which would have provided Ukraine with funds in return for liberalizing reforms—but then backed down at the last moment in favor of a Russian loan, he sparked a wave of protests called the Euromaidan movement in November 2013. Ukrainian security forces cracked down on the protesters, but this only exacerbated the situation. In February the protests turned to revolution and Yanukovych was forced to flee to Russia.
27 Feb 2014 Crimean Crisis▲
Just days after pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was forced from office by the Euromaidan revolution, unmarked Russian troops (“Little Green Men”) began seizing control of posts across the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine. Crimea, which had formerly been a Russian territory, had a large Russian population, and was home to the important Russian-leased naval base at Sevastopol, was quickly overwhelmed.