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War in Ukraine, Part 1: Post-USSR Independence


Ukraine Independence Day celebrations, August 24, 2022. On this day, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine will fight "till the end".



Executive Summary:


During the period leading up to the Russian annexation of Crimea we discover how Russia developed and maintained its influence over Ukraine since Ukraine's independence from the USSR, and how it is affecting the current global situation as follows:


1. Russia controlled the Ukraine Government: Russia controlled the political narrative in Ukraine for two decades since Ukraine's independence, effectively suppressing Ukraine's sovereign potential as if it was a de facto part of the Russian Federation, to include neutralizing potential enablers of Ukrainian nationalism who promoted independence from Russian control mechanisms.


2. Post-Soviet Ukraine was demilitarized deliberately: Ukraine military capability has been constantly suppressed and reduced by means of Russian influence through a compromised Ukrainian political system which always supported Russian interests over Ukrainian interests. This is the main cause for Ukraine's unpreparedness in terms of advanced capabilities, and reduced equipment availability to resist Russian aggression effectively without NATO assistance.


3. Russia refuses to accept Ukrainian sovereignty: Russia considers Ukraine as native Russian territory, and refuses to acknowledge Ukraine as a sovereign independent nation with the right to pursue its own strategic objectives.


4. Russia started testing Western tolerance 14 years prior to the invasion of Ukraine: The 2008 Russo-Georgia War served as a testing ground for evaluating Russian regional power projection, the effectiveness of its defense strategy, and to assess Western political willingness to counter Russian aggression. The fact that the collective West failed to address the 2008 Russo-Georgia War effectively supported Russian confidence to expand its global expansionism strategy.


5. Irregular Warfare became the new Russian strategy: The development and deployment of new multi-domain Russian Special Operations Forces capabilities within Western territories was a product of the lessons learnt during the 2008 Russo-Georgia War to extend Russian military reach, and to develop a basic strategic power projection capability through clandestine irregular means. One of the more concerning special operations capabilities within the Russian GRU is the use of chemical weapons to target individuals within foreign territories without any foreign government resistance.


6. Russia has been at war with the West since 2014: Russia effectively declared a silent war against the West in 2014 with gradual escalation to the present. It started by exploiting the West's naivety pertaining Russia's ability to target Western vulnerabilities that exist within its economic systems, political systems, and historical imbalances in society (such as the Russian involvement in the enablement of the BLM movement in the United States).


7. The majority nations in NATO, excluding the US, still ignore the fact that NATO is already at war with Russia: At present, the traditional West is still ignorant to the fact that it has been the target of an undeclared silent war with Russia, and current Russian advantage at the strategic level is still greatly underestimated. The current Russian war strategy against NATO is by irregular means, currently exploiting legal 'grey zones' within Western society.


8. Russia has had the advantage over the West for nearly a decade: Western political stability and global influence has been eroded gradually by targeted Russian interference based on two decades' experience gained in Ukraine and Europe, taking advantage of Western ignorance of cause blindness relating to the current challenges it is facing affecting its respective societies' centers of gravity.


9. What Russia developed in Ukraine is already applied in the West: Russian activities in Ukraine relating to control over domestic politics, perception management and narrative control, and economic manipulation within a target society has become the template for how Russia is fighting a superior military, but economic- and socially vulnerable Western alliance by following a discreet undeclared irregular warfare doctrine;


10. The Russian grand strategy is expansion of Russian global influence: It is the Russian objective to divide nations into smaller independent states within strategic locations globally. The main purpose behind this strategy is inspired by Russia's belief in a future world order where strategic power is determined by the number of smaller 'independent' states represented by a global super power. This is one of the reasons why Russia is enabling so many independence movements within strategic important locations in an attempt to dilute the traditional [colonial] powers of influence to gain more power by representing a larger bloc of smaller nations to direct future global policies. Russia has always favored creating its own union of aligned nations instead of being part of a global body such as the United Nations for the simple reason that Russia believes that the inclusion of smaller [low-contributing] nations with equal voting rights to itself within world bodies (such as the United Nations), is not fair to global powers as Russia in terms of deciding what is acceptable in terms of global policy creation. Russia does not believe in the effectiveness of democratic process in terms of government control and public oversight, why it favors an authoritarian system of government controlled by a hierarchy of loyal political elite.


11. Russia effectively infiltrated the West post-USSR: Russia never abandoned its ambitions for global influence at the end of the Cold War as the controlling body of the USSR when the Soviet Union was disbanded. Instead, it just rebranded and updated its strategy by exploiting what the naive West was offering when it opened up to the idea of greater Russian economic inclusion. Therefore the assumption that Russian strategic objectives post-USSR disbandment differs from Russian objectives while leading the Soviet Union pre-USSR disbandment is incorrect. Russian strategic objectives have remained consistent throughout the transition from the USSR to the present, and all that has changed until now is the Russian strategy, and the means of achieving strategic goals.


12. The US has always been cautious of Russia: The United States has always been aware of the dangers posed by Russia, especially relating to its strategic competition goals, but its traditional European allies do not share the same US concerns. This is the main reason why the US society has been targeted through political divides, and why US politics is in such a fragile state as at present. Not only has the US been targeted by means of the creation of artificial divides within its society, but its economic system is also being targeted by mass disinformation which affects consumer trends in terms of investing in US financial instruments as a means of eroding away the US tax base. However, as the leading nation in the NATO alliance, it has the responsibility of managing alliance members in Europe who still struggle to rid itself from past Russian allegiance (such as the power of influence still being exercised by the pro-Russian enablers of the Cold-War era German Democratic Republic, an ex-Soviet aligned Republic, on the existing German Federal government). Just as Russia opposed a growing US influence in Ukraine, so did various influential European powers (who are also NATO alliance members) oppose Ukraine becoming US aligned, instead [silently] preferring a Russian controlled Ukraine. The ideological divide in NATO, which Russia exploits to its advantage, is the result of pockets of influential European resistance to US controls that came into existence in post-WW2 Europe.


13. The global 'Islamic State' phenomenon is a tool for Russian expansionism: Daesh, also referred to as the 'Islamic State", is perceived to be a global terrorist organization representing the interests of radical Sunni Islamists who believe they have been disenfranchised by the West, and most prominently the United States. However, Daesh evolved from powerful figures who used to be associated with the Ba'ath Parties of Iraq and Syria, both entities being allies of Russia until the US commenced its anti-Ba'athist operations in the Middle East in retaliation for its support to Al Qaeda during its Global War on Terror. When the US led coalition launched the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, Russia was heavily opposed to the US invasion of its ally. However, Daesh (Islamic State) entered the international public domain when it launched a ruthless military occupation of territories in Iraq and Syria starting in 2013 (Syria), 2014 (Iraq), and now everywhere Western oil and gas interests are found globally amongst a predominantly Muslim society. The 2014 expansion of the Islamic State caliphate in Iraq is significant for the fact that it is the same year Russia [silently] declared war against the Western nations it considers 'US controlled'. Therefore, specialists in the field of counter-terrorism should start looking at Daesh (Islamic State) from the perspective of an 'army for hire', and how Russia (and its allies) became enablers of its current global footprint of operations, and how the sponsors of Daesh are beneficiaries of the 'Islamic State' global network in terms of narcotics trade, human trafficking, arms trade, and foreign direct action with plausible deniability.


Foreword:


This timeline is a simplified, but somewhat comprehensive summary of events that contributed towards the current Russo-Ukraine War, and it is not a complete product. Since the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, we were all very much negligent about the true origins of this war and how it shaped the perception of Ukraine since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This war has divided so many nations along the lines of who is right (or wrong), with much [unjustified] blame being directed towards NATO, and specifically the United States of America. Unfortunately, much to the detriment of the people of Ukraine, we were all wrong and blinded to the real facts, why we have dedicated a team to filter through vast resources of confidential-, declassified- and open source information to explain how Ukraine nearly became lost to a belligerent Russia. May this be a lesson to us all.


(Note to reader: This is an ongoing project, and the contents of this article are updated constantly as more information becomes available. This article is non-partisan, and it is not funded nor sponsored by any government or organization which may be referenced within the article).


Introduction:


On February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine along multiple fronts with the main objective of occupying the country in a few days to enable the establishment of a pro-Russian government. Russian strategic objectives were short-sighted, and the capabilities of its armed forces exaggerated which resulted in a major failed operation for Russia with exceptionally high numbers in human- and material losses. For various reasons ranging from mainstream media disinformation, along with contradicting foreign policies amongst EU member states pushing their own narratives regarding the Russo-Ukraine relations, much of the details leading up to this war are nearly lost in history, why it is important to record the timeline highlighting all the activities by key role-players since Ukraine’s independence from the USSR, to the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022.


The main motivation for publishing this timeline highlighting Russia’s constant interference in Ukraine since independence is due to the extensive depth of disinformation that still exists amongst the majority global societies who are still divided in terms of understanding post-USSR Russia’s culpability in facilitation of the current Russo-Ukraine conflict. This divide is mainly a result of a phenomenon best described as Cause Ignorance (or ‘Cause Blindness’, whichever makes more sense in the absence of a better term), which basically implies the result of society’s focus on effects (symptoms) and consequently reacting to, or in accordance, with such effects while ignoring the cause(s) for the effects. In simple terms, people are more likely to desire the effects of an achievement instead of the causes for achieving the effects as an end result. Within a consumerist society, the concept of cause ignorance is exploited by businesses through marketing campaigns (information operations) promoting products and services (effects/symptoms) of production instead of (ignoring) how the products or services were developed (causes). The same phenomenon applies to the divide that exists between the wealthy and the poor, where the latter (the poor), choose to focus on the product (effects/symptoms) of the process of production as the definition of wealth, whereas the leaders of industry generate wealth by focussing on the causes of production leading to the desired effects/symptoms (the product).


From an information dominance perspective, the problems society are experiencing now are all effects of greater causes which are generally ignored by the target audience for the simple reason that the causes have been purposefully over-complicated and misleading to create an effect of difficult understanding to a point where it can be easily dismissed as being false in favor of a simpler narrative (the symptom). This same method is also used within the business environment to protect the means of production during the pursuit for constant competitive advantage (commonly referred to as business secrets). For the same reasons, people are more inclined to accept ‘simpler-to-understand’ sensationalist information, although not factually accurate, as the acceptable ‘truth’ instead of the actual truth most commonly perceived as more complicated resulting in a lower degree of understanding and acceptance by its audience. This phenomenon is more common in societies subjected to a constant declining standard of education which affects cognitive maturity within the target society (such as what can be witnessed in Africa in terms of declining government education standards during the information age compared to the global standard). The current global perceptions about the situation in Ukraine is one such example of when the effects of the causes become the adopted narrative amongst an audience not aware of being the subjects of long-term [dis]information operations due to the effects being simpler to understand than the causes, especially within the current context of global [distraction] events and flawed [government manipulated] historical record being passed as formal ‘education’. From an education perspective, we also see much decline in the quality of education, especially at the tertiary level, which contributes to the common misconception in modern society caused by the perception created by the current systems of formal education that everyone that fails to conform with such academic guidelines are wrong simply because their perspectives fail to fit the current narrative, and because of that, every person with an opinion (even flawed opinion) has the self-entitled responsibility to 'correct' what is perceived as 'incorrect' within our current society, a society that is influenced by various actors with different agendas to insist on corrective actions which are in fact based on flawed assumptions caused by ‘cause ignorance / cause blindness’. However, the danger in this presumption is that we are living in an era where the narrative to whom the majority people conform with are in fact flawed and compromised, and not necessarily correct. As people, we also tend to believe that certain activities during the past (such as the concept of the USSR within the minds of younger generation Russians), was better based on the ideas derived from ‘beacons of excellence’ recorded in historical scriptures by a small community of so-called academics with the authority to decide what is appropriate or not in conformance with political government prescribed education outcomes. For these reasons we find that the younger generation Russians believe that the world can 'return to the days when things were better' because of the people they saw coming out of those times (such as the ‘fearlessness’ of Vladimir Putin’s leadership style as the supreme leader of the Russian Federation). However, what the greatest victims of the current Russian era, the people of Russia, still has to figure out is that good will eventually always persevere over evil (just as before, repeated so many times during the challenging history of humanity).


To explain this concept better, we have listed the timeline of major events in Ukraine since independence from the USSR, and how each event contributed towards the making of the current Russo-Ukraine War, including the tactics used by Russia’s intelligence mechanisms (GRU, FSB), during the following phases of Ukraines history post-independence:


Part 1: Post-USSR Independence

Part 2: The Russo-Georgia War

Part 3: Russian Annexation of Crimea

Part 4: The War in Donbas, Eastern Ukraine

Part 5: Russian Invasion of Ukraine


However, this subject is extremely complex, and it does require greater understanding of the mechanisms of strategic power projection, and how covert intelligence services support their governments to achieve strategic objectives (Read: 5th Generation Warfare: The evolution of Warfare beyond the controls of the Nation State). Also, Russian strategic objectives are much different to any other nation in the world, and to understand its obsession with Ukraine better, we need to understand how Russia sees the world, and how it perceives itself within this world (Read: The Great Power Competition: How does it affect Africa?)


“The major effect of government controlled education involving historical programming is that history changes so quickly, you never know what’s going to happen yesterday”

Undisclosed Author


A Timeline of Russian Interference

The citizens of Ukraine celebrate their independence from the USSR, 1991



1990:


1990, July 16: The Rada (new Ukrainian parliament formed from the previous Soviet legislature), votes to declare independence from the USSR (Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics, or ‘Soviet Union’ in short). Ukrainian soldiers stationed in other Soviet states return to Ukraine, and the remaining reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is shut down.

1990, July 23: Leonid Kravchuk is appointed Supreme Soviet of the Ukraine SSR.

1990, October 24: The monopoly of the Communist Party of Ukraine on government power is abolished. Leonid Kravchuk, the sitting leader of Ukraine, remains the head of state of Ukraine.


1991:


1991, August 24: Following a failed coup in Moscow (commonly known as the August coup) by Soviet Communist Party hardliners who attempted to seize control from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Ukraine parliament declares independence for the second time, the date still celebrated as Ukraine’s official independence day.

1991, November 30: Leonid Kravchuk, the head of state of Ukraine, orders the commander of the aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, that the aircraft carrier remains the property of Ukraine as per the agreement of independence from the USSR.

1991, December 01: Ukraine, along with Crimea, become independent from the USSR based on the results of a referendum with 92% of the population in favor of Ukraine’s independence. Crimea joins Ukraine as a semi-autonomous state. The Russian Navy risks losing control over the territory of its main Black Sea base in Sevastopol, Crimea. At around 21:00PM, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sails out of the Sevastopol harbor to Vidyayevo in Russia. The order for the ship's urgent departure was given by the deputy commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, Yuri Ustimenko, who arrived in Crimea earlier for the purpose of enabling the ship's departure from Ukraine, acting upon instructions from the Russian Navy higher command who pre-empted the possible loss of the carrier to Ukraine upon declaration of independence.

Admiral Kuznetsov in service with the Russian Northern Fleet. The ship was designed and built in Ukraine, and effectively became the property of Ukraine as part of the approved terms of independence from the Soviet Union. The ship was taken by Russia from Ukraine on the day of independence under the cover of darkness.



The majority of the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov's crew chose to remain with Russia, why the instructions from Ukraine's head of state, Leonid Kravchuk, was ignored in favor of transferring the ship [illegally] to Russia. Based on the conditions of independence approved by the USSR, Russia effectively stole the Admiral Kuznetsov from Ukraine. However, since the ship was built by Ukraine, and the ship building design and expertise remained in Ukraine, Russia struggled to complete the ship in accordance with its original operational design specifications. Since the ship's induction into operational service with the Russian Northern Fleet in 1995, the ship has been problematic in terms of serviceability, effectively not having successfully completed a single operational deployment without experiencing major mechanical failures. Admiral Kuznetsov was deployed to Syria on October 15, 2016, while still undergoing maintenance. The carrier was withdrawn less than 6 weeks later to undergo a refit starting January 2017 after multiple arresting gear failures on the flight deck resulting in the loss of various combat aircraft. The carrier air wing was transferred to Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. The carrier has not been operational since, having undergone various setbacks, and at present the refit is expected to be finished by 2024, although this is expected to be delayed as a result of the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War. Since the ship arrived at the shipyard early 2017, it sustained damage resulting in a water leak when the floating dock sank in 2018, fire damage in 2019 after an onboard fire resulting from welding activities during the refit process, and on December 22, 2022, another fire broke out onboard the ship causing more delays and damage of unknown extent.


1991, December 05: Leonid Kravchuk is inaugurated as the first President of Ukraine. His term ends on July 19, 1994, when he hands over duty to Leonid Kuchma. Leonid Kravchuk served as the head of state of Ukraine until the approval of the newly created position of President after declaration of independence.

1991, December 08: The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is re-established by Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine at the Belovezh Accords in Belarus as a means of bringing together all the newly independent countries that originally belonged to the USSR. The CIS, which functioned as a shared Russophone cultural, social, and economic space, originated during the era of the Russian Empire until replaced in 1917 by the Russian Republic following the February Revolution in that year. The CIS Charter, which stipulates all the statutes of the group, had not been developed at the time.

1991, December 26: The Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) is officially dissolved.


1992:


1992, February 26: Crimea ASSR renamed Republic of Crimea in an attempt to be recognized as an independent sovereign state after the passing of a resolution in the Crimean Parliament.

1992, May 05: Crimea declares self-governance pending approval by a referendum.

1992, May 06: The Crimean Parliament includes a sentence in the constitution confirming Crimea remains part of the sovereignty of Ukraine.

1992, May 19: Crimean Parliament annuls proclamation of independence from Ukraine, and agrees to remain part of Ukraine.

1992, June 30: Crimean Communist Party forces Kyiv to extend the status of Crimean autonomy. The Soviet Black Sea fleet is divided equally between Russia and Ukraine.

1992, October 13: Leonid Kuchma, as an independent politician, becomes Prime Minister of Ukraine winning 316 of 450 votes in Parliament.


1993:


1993, January 15: Union of the Ukrainian Naval Officers demands an end to Russian interference in Ukraine's internal affairs causing for Russia to retaliate by initiating anti-Ukrainian protests to support an independent Crimean Republic via the Party of the Republican Movement of Crimea, Voters for the Crimean Republic, and Union of Communists who demands Crimea’s return to the USSR (now CIS).

1993, January 22: The Charter (Statutes) of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is signed by its member states, excluding Ukraine and Turkmenistan, the latter two nations choosing to participate as non-member states to limit Russian interference via the CIS mechanisms.

1993, February 21: A shipping container with around 1 metric ton of pure cocaine disguised as cans of corned beef originating from Columbia, is seized at the Vyborg border crossing between Finland and Russia by Russian law enforcement. This incident remains the largest [disclosed] narcotics seizure in Russia to date. However, what this incident exposed was how Vladimir Putin became involved in narcotics trafficking while serving as the Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg and the serving Head of the External Relations Committee of St Petersburg.


At the time of seizure, Viktor Cherkesov, the then Head of the Directorate of the FSB (successor to the KGB), St Petersburg, held a news conference confirming the successful seizure of the cocaine consignment by security forces, and that the consignment would be reappropriated for medical use. Cherkesov justified this decision in public by stating that Russia did not have sufficient supplies of cocaine for ‘medicinal use’, and that the consignment would help the government to supplement depleted stocks (which was never questioned again by the Russian public who found the explanation acceptable). The consignment then disappeared without further trace. This was considered a major success to be celebrated by security forces, especially during a time when Russia was subjected to high levels of government corruption post-USSR dissolution. The incident was exposed as Operation Acapulco which was managed by Russian mafia connected Israeli gangsters via the Netherlands. The shipping route followed departure from Columbia, then transit via Sweden to Finland from where it was shipped to St Petersburg. The consignment was addressed to the Mayor's Office of St Petersburg with delivery instructions to the Sanitary Department facilities. Viktor Cherkesov, a long associate of Vladimir Putin dating back to their services in the former Soviet KGB, became the deputy to Vladimir Putin when Putin became the head of the FSB (successor to the KGB) during 1998. On March 11, 2003, Cherkesov was appointed by Putin as the Head of the State Committee for the Control of the Circulation of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. During October 2007, Cherkesov was implicated in the mysterious deaths by poisoning of two Russian Drug Enforcement Agency officials who threatened to expose high level oligarchs (including the poisoning of former FSB officer, Alexander Litvinenko in the UK, who was investigating Putin and his allies' involvement in corruption and cocaine smuggling at the time). On May 12, 2008, President Dmitry Medvedev sacked Cherkesov, but was reappointed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the Head of the Federal Agency for Procurement of Military and Special Equipment (which explains why the Russian Forces in Ukraine was exposed for its high levels of military procurement corruption leading up to the Ukraine invasion). However, since the 1993 seizure, narcotics trade via Russia only increased, especially its global network which benefited much from covert government security resources support via its compromised leadership structures under the direct control of Putin as the Head of State. Basically, the purpose of Russian security agencies tasked with drug enforcement is only to limit foreign (non-Russian) competition, and to ensure that wholesale narcotics trade remained within the controls of the Putin connected political elite across the global Russian footprint.


1993, March 19: National Salvation Front refuses Crimean Ukrainian Congress entry to the Republican Council.

1993, March 21: Russia establishes an 'information bureau' in Sevastopol.

1993, April 14: Presidium of the Crimean Parliament calls for establishment of a Presidential post for the Crimean Republic.

1993, April 21: Russian Deputy, Valentin Agafonov, confirms Russia is ready to accept Crimea as an independent republic in the CIS.

1993, July 28: Russian Society of Crimea confirms readiness for an armed mutiny to enable the establishment of a Russian administration in Sevastopol.

1993, October 14: Crimean Parliament establishes the post of President of Crimea. Crimean Tatars oppose the election of a President for Crimea, stating that Crimea cannot have two Presidents (referring to sitting Ukrainian President as first President).

1993, November 06: Crimean Tatar leader, Yuriy Osmanov, is murdered, followed by a series of terrorist attacks throughout the Crimean Peninsula targeting mainly Ukrainian and Tatar politicians.


1994:


1994, January 30: Pro-Russian, Yuriy Meshkov, is elected President of Crimea.

1994, June 16: Ukraine Prime Minister Leonid Kutchma hands over his duties as Prime Minister to Vitaliy Masol after Kuchma resigned from the position, criticizing the Ukraine government for being too slow in terms of government reforms post-independence. He served as Prime Minister for 20 months.

1994, July 10: Former Ukraine Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma wins the second-round Presidential elections against then Ukraine President Leonid Kravchuk. Kuchma won the majority support from eastern Ukraine, the region where Russian occupation forces were focused during the February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine.

1994, September 08: Crimean Parliament degrades powers of the President from Head of State to Head of the Executive. Meshkov dissolves the Parliament.

1994, September 12: Yuriy Meshkov declares himself in control of Crimea.

1994, December 05: Ukraine, Russia, United Kingdom and United States of America sign United Nations treaty 52241: Memorandum on security assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. By undersigning this treaty, the Russian Federation acknowledged the borders and sovereign independence of Ukraine, with security guarantees provided by all signatories to support Ukraine in the event of any future conflict involving the threat of nuclear weapons being used against Ukraine in return for nuclear disarmament.


1995:


1995, March 17: With Special Forces assistance, the Ukraine Parliament removes Yuriy Meshkov and his party from power for their attempts to integrate Crimea with Russia. Meshkov is arrested at his residence, and immediately deported to Moscow.


1996:


1996, April 04: Interim constitution changes Crimean territory name to Autonomous Republic of Crimea.


1997:


1997, May 14: Viktor Yanukovych is appointed the governor of Donetsk Oblast. Looking back from the perspective of current events, this event is significant for the reason that it established the foundation for Donetsk Oblast’s subsequent break-away from Ukraine with Russian military support during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution in Kyiv.

1997, May 31: Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation is signed in Kyiv, fixing the principle of strategic partnership, the recognition of the inviolability of existing borders, and respect for territorial integrity and mutual commitment not to use its territory to harm the security of each other. With this treaty Russia recognized Ukraine’s sovereign control over Crimea and Sevastopol. In a separate agreement, Ukraine agrees to hand over 80% of the Black Sea Fleet (shared ex-USSR at the time) to Russia, along with a 20 years lease to the Russian Navy to operate from Sevastopol.


1999:


1999, March 25: Ukrainian politician and Soviet dissident, Viacheslav Chornovil, dies under mysterious circumstances resembling a motor vehicle accident. Various inner circle discussions within the Party of Regions revealed that Chornovil’s death might have been politically motivated since he was considered the main opposition candidate to Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma’s re-election campaign in 1999. Chornovil was a major critic of Leonid Kuchma and his government reforms. On August 23, 2006, then Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko attempted to reopen the investigation into the circumstances leading to his death but failed due to politically influenced opposition within the Prosecutor General’s office.

1999, August 09: Vladimir Putin assumes office as the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, with Boris Yeltsin serving as the President of the Russian Federation. He serves as Prime Minister for 9 months after which he assumes the office of the President of the Russian Federation from Boris Yeltsin on May 07, 2000, after Yeltsin announced his resignation at short notice without giving reason.

1999, November 14: Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma wins the second-round of the Presidential elections against Petro Symonenko.


During his second term, Kuchma rapidly lost popularity due to his multi-polar foreign policies which attempted to please the US, Europe, and Russia simultaneously. This policy failed because he was playing the major powers against each other to his personal financial benefit, and to the benefit of the first-generation Ukrainian oligarchs but failing to benefit the people of Ukraine.


1999, December 22: Viktor Yushchenko, as an independent, becomes Prime Minister of Ukraine winning 296 of 450 votes in Parliament. He serves as Prime Minister for 17 months before replacement by Anatoliy Kinakh.


2000:


2000, May 07: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assumes office as the President of the Russian Federation from Boris Yeltsin who announced his resignation at short notice without reason. He remains in office for 8 years until the end of his constitutionally prescribed maximum term in office on May 07, 2008.

2000, September 16: Georgiy Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist investigating alleged corruption implicating Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma, disappears. His beheaded body is found 2 months later in a forest outside Kyiv. Audio recordings eventually surface implying that Kuchma ordered his subordinates to get rid of Gongadze which spurs public discontent. Western nations reconsider their relations with the Ukraine Presidency.

2000, November 28: Ukrainian politician Oleksandr Moroz publicly accuses Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma of his involvement in the illegal abduction of Georgiy Gongadze and numerous other crimes, such as the sale of the advanced Ukrainian electronic warfare system ‘Kolchuga’ to Iraq (under leadership of Saddam Hussein at the time), while subject to an arms embargo, which drew the attention of the US who launched its own investigation.


These allegations were exposed in a surveillance operation which became known as the ‘Cassette Scandal’ which exposed Kuchma having approved these actions. In the recordings, recommendations were given by Kuchma to ‘deport’ Gongadze to Chechnya. Gongadze’s decapitated body was found in a wood two months later. The head of the SBU, Leonid Derkach, was terminated upon public demands for his sacking. Derkach was a known Russian asset, with high-level links to the Russian organized crime. On March 04, 2005, former Minister of Interior, Yuriy Kravchenko, died of two gunshot wounds to the head shortly before he had to testify in the case relating to Gongadze’s murder.


2001:


2001, April 26: The Cabinet of Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko is dissolved by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). This incident resulted in Yushchenko losing the support from Parliament in an act that was orchestrated by Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma.

2001, October 04: The Ukrainian Air Force shoots down Siberian Airlines Flight 1812 over the Black Sea while on route from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Russia. All 78 occupants died. The majority passengers were Israeli’s visiting family members in Russia. Initially Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma refused to have the Minister of Defence, Oleksandr Kuzmuk, resign and held accountable. One week later Kuzmuk was relieved of his duties, and Kuchma apologized to both Israel and Russia for the incident.


2002:


2002, October 23: Chechen terrorists seize the Dubrovka theatre with around 850 hostages in Moscow, Russia. This incident becomes known as the Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis (or 2002 Nord-Ost Siege). The siege ended when Russian security forces (Spetsnaz Alpha & Vympel assigned to the Russian FSB), launched an assault on the theatre after pumping a toxic chemical agent through the ventilation system. The hostage release operation caused the deaths of 131 hostages who died because of inhaling the toxic chemicals. The 40 insurgents also died when they were shot dead by security forces while unconscious. More than 700 hostages sustained injuries during the release operation. The chemical used by the FSB was a fentanyl derivative, more specifically a mixture of carfentanil and remifentanil. The incident response, considered a disaster in the West, caused for record high public approval ratings of Vladimir Putin’s handling of the situation, with around 83% of Russians declaring themselves satisfied with the results.


An important aspect about this event relates to the attackers. The insurgents were Chechens with sworn allegiance to the Islamic separatist movement in Chechnya who demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya, and the immediate end to the Second Chechen War. The most significant fact about the attackers is that they associated themselves as members of the defunct Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and specifically a radical extremist group within the Ichkeria movement which later inspired insurgencies within the Dagestan and North Caucasus regions of Russia (2000 – 2017). On August 09, 1999, Islamic fighters infiltrated Dagestan and declared it an independent Islamic state/caliphate (a term that sounds familiar going forward). This event prompted the start of the Second Chechen War when Moscow intervened with military force. However, during this time Russian armed forces faced less resistance during their invasion of Chechnya (compared to the First Chechen War), because of differing opinions amongst the various Chechen factions about the reasons for hostility. This basically divided the Chechens into various warring factions, the most radical groups having established themselves in the North Caucasus and in Dagestan, also aligning themselves with the Al Qaeda network. The significance of this development in Russia is that eventually with the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the majority foreign fighters were Russian speakers of Chechen origin who contributed their military experience gained through fighting Russian forces in Chechnya, Dagestan and North Caucasus, to the establishment of the Islamic State’s military capabilities, and most prominently the ruthlessness of the Islamic State military campaigns in both Syria and Iraq. At the start of the Islamic State campaign in Syria, Moscow was genuinely concerned about the future threat its radicalized citizens would pose in the ongoing insurgencies within the Muslim territories of Russia when these fighters returned home from various foreign areas of conflict. However, the Russian intelligence services only came to realize the opportunities offered by the Islamic State to enable Russian expansionism within strategic Muslim dominated territories which were predominantly Western aligned, through partnership with the Syrian government who also concluded that the Islamic State was a greater asset to ensuring the future survival of the Syrian regime and its territories, than it was a threat to the Syrian Ba’athist government. This is how the relationship started between the Russian intelligence services alliance (FSB, GRU, Wagner), and how they solved maintaining control over Russian citizens historically classified as a threat to the Russian Federation, but now converted into an asset for foreign expansionism enablement (Mozambique, Nigeria, Mali, Afghanistan). It is also due to this silent alliance why both Russia and Syria eventually failed to effectively engage Islamic State targets in Syria, and rather targeted militant groups supported by the West, sometimes providing CAS (close air support) in support of Islamic State ground operations.