Separation Of Ukraine From Soviet Union And It’s Conflict With Russia

Separation Of Ukraine From Soviet Union And It's Conflict With Russia

Ukraine and Russia have recently been in news over the increasing tensions between them. Ukraine had been a part of the Soviet Union before becoming independent. In regards to this, let us know more about the country and its conflict with Russia.

Crux of the Matter

Formation Of The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union the United Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) emerged after the 1921 civil war in Russia. It was the largest country in the world. It comprised of 15 soviet republics including Russia.The state was under Communist rule and Vladimir Lenin had emerged as the leader of the Soviet State.

Breakdown Of The Soviet Union

  • Several social, economic and political problems paved way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • The Policy of Glasnost introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev allowed for the first time participation of other parties for election.
  • Using this new freedom, several republics started independence movement.
  • In 1991, a coup was staged but it failed. Gorbachev had been put under house arrest.
  • By then, several republics became independent and Soviet Union was officially dissolved in December, 1991.

    15 separate countries emerged after the Soviet Union dissolved- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Major Events In Ukraine After Independence

  • 1991: Ukraine became independent.
  • 1994: It joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace agreement.
  • 2004: Orange Revolution took place and mass protests happened after pro-Russian candidate won the presidential elections. Re-elections happened where Viktor Yushchenko won.
  • 2006: Russia shut off gas supply to Ukraine causing economic slowdown.
  • 2008: Talks between Ukraine and European Union (EU) began.
  • 2010: Pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych became the President.
  • 2013- Ukraine withdrew from talk with EU leading to protests in the country.

Conflict Between Ukraine And Russia

  • The relationship between Ukraine and Russia became strained in 2014 after Russia took control of Crimea, and seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • EU and US imposed sanctions on Russia. NATO and the Western governments have accused Russia of sending regular troops into Ukraine.
  • Tensions escalated in April, 2021 after a Ukranian soldier was killed in a fight between Ukranian and pro-Russian separatists.
  • It is being expected that Russia will soon have more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.
  • It is estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed so far.

  • In 1863, use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. This severely curtailed literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia.
  • Following Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power. Stalin suppressed all political opposition to his rule inside the Communist Party and inaugurated a command economy. 
  • The USSR took an early lead in the Space Race with the first ever satellite and the first human spaceflight. In the 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed when the Soviet Union deployed troops in Afghanistan in 1979.

Russia Found Guilty Of Human Rights Violation In Georgia War

Russia Found Guilty Of Human Rights Violation In Georgia War

In a landmark verdict, the European Court of Human Rights has found Russia guilty of Human Rights violation in Georgia in 2008. In that light, let’s look at what happened there as well as several wars Russia has been engaged in with former Soviet territories.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Claim
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently found Russia guilty of human rights violations during its 2008 war with Georgia. It was found guilty of civilian killings, property destruction, torturing prisoners of war, etc.

2008 Russia-Georgia War
All regions involved are former parts of the Soviet Union. Also, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are officially part of Georgia but consider themselves autonomous.

  • 2006: Georgia publicly accused Russia of supporting the two regions’ separatism.
  • August 2008: Georgia launched an attack on South Ossetian to “neutralize separatist positions”. The attack came after months of clashes between the two.
  • Russia immediately launched an attack on Georgia – reached within 30km of Tbilisi (Georgian capital).

The war, lasting 5 days, saw more than being 228 Georgian civilians killed. In its report, the European Union (EU) also found Russia guilty of ‘long history of provocation‘ and ‘disproportionate reaction’.

Russia has been involved in conflicts with several nations previously being part of the Soviet Union. The major such wars are as follows.

First Chechnya War
Chechnya is a Muslim majority region, which declared independence from Russia after the Soviet breakdown.

  • 1994: Chechens under Akhmad Kadyrov declared jihad (holy war) on Russia after it invaded Chechnya against separatist forces.
  • 1996: Russia retreated, making Chechnya practically independent.

Second Chechnya War

  • Islamic extremism increased in the region – Akhmad Kadyrov switched to the Russian side.
  • 1999: Russia launched an attack after Chechen rebels allegedly killed 300+ people in bombing attacks inside Russia.
  • Such guerilla attacks continued, but Russia eventually won in 2009 and gained control of Chechnya.

Ukraine Crisis

  • February 2014: Pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown after pro-West protests broke in the nation.
  • Russia soon annexed Crimea (belonging to Ukraine) – part of re-establishing authority and partly due to its expansionism.
  • 13,000 people were killed, out of which 3,300 were civilians as per 2019 UN report.

Read about Russia’s relationship with Germany here.

  • The Russo-Georgian War was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century. Since the war, Russia has occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the ceasefire agreement of August 2008.
  • The Rose Revolution was a change of power in Georgia in November 2003. The revolution was brought about by widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections and culminated in the ousting of President Eduard Shevardnadze, which marked the end of the Soviet era of leadership in the country.
  • The Battle of Tskhinvali was a battle for the city of Tskhinvali, capital of the breakaway state of South Ossetia. It was the only major battle in the Russo-Georgian War.

Putin Signs Bill Granting Lifetime Immunity To Former Presidents

Putin Signs Bill Granting Lifetime Immunity To Former Presidents

As Russian President Putin has made himself immune from prosecution for lifetime, let us look at the new provision and its implications.

Crux of the Matter

Permanent Immunity To Presidents
Russia President Vladimir Putin has signed new legislation that grants lifetime immunity to former presidents after they leave the post. It does so by making former Presidents members of the Senate for a lifetime.

What’s More To It?

  • Also protects their families from prosecution for crimes of their entire lifetime.
  • Exempted from police investigations and arrests.
  • Previously, former Presidents were immune to prosecution only for the crimes done while in office.
  • Immunity can now be revoked only in serious cases like treason and requires an overwhelming majority of the upper House, which has been called ‘impossible’ by analysts.

The new law is a part of constitutional amendments recently brought by Putin. One major Amendment allows Putin to continue as the President till 2036, who would have been otherwise required to leave in 2024.

One more Bill is awaiting Putin’s signature, which would make information of employees of “judicial system, law enforcement, and regulatory and military bodies” confidential. The move came 1 day after opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed to have “tricked” an agent into admitting that the Government had tried to poison him.

Navalny, Putin’s staunchest critic, was poisoned in August allegedly by Russian agents. Navalny later revealed the agent’s number, which would now be illegal according to the new provision.

Immunity To President In India

  • Article 361 of the Constitution says that the President “shall not be answerable to any court” for exercising “powers and duties of his office”.
  • The President is also immune from criminal proceedings and arrests during his/her office.
  • However, she/he is impeachable under Article 61, which has to be preferred by either House of the Parliament.

  • A law, first adopted in 2012, allows Russian authorities to label foreign-funded NGOs engaged in political activity “foreign agents“, a term that carries negative Soviet-era connotations. Despite the backlash, the bill was passed in the upper house with an overwhelming majority.
  • A duma is a Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions. The term comes from the Russian verb ‘dumat’ meaning “to think” or “to consider”. Since 1993, the lower house has also been known as the state duma.
  • Russian writer Sergei Kalenik began an online comic series in 2011 named “Superputin” – in which the Russian President saves his nation by judo-chopping terrorists. Putin is depicted as a superhero who fights the twin evils of public protest and terrorism.

Belarus Presidency On The Path Of Russia?

Belarus Presidency On The Path Of Russia?

With the recent elections in Belarus being declared by many as “rigged“, the country took a step towards matching the Russian elections, described in equal terms at the international level.

Crux of the Matter

Recent “Victory”
Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus recently won the Presidential elections, with more than 80% of votes going in his favour. Lukashenko has been the President since 1994, and was described by the former US President George Bush as the “last dictator in Europe”.

Opposition And Rigging
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya became the main candidate against Lukashenko after the other two opponents had their candidacies rejected. The first, Viktor Babariko, was arrested, while the other candidate Valery Tsepkalo fled to Russia fearing action by Lukashenko. In his statement, Lukashenko claimed that people supporting the rallies of Tikhanovskaya would be treated as terrorists.

After the results, the elections were declared “rigged” by most of the opposition leaders and experts. Tikhanovskaya fled the country, citing threat to her whole family as the reason for the escape.

About Lukashenko
After becoming the President in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko dismantled the parliament in 1996 and reappointed it in 2000 with his “handpicked” members. In 2004, he removed the limit of “two-terms” on Presidents.

All elections since Lukashenko came into power have been declared unfair and rigged by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and several sanctions have been levied on him by the UN, the US and several other powers over human rights violations and unfair elections.

Covid-19 Dealing
Lukashenko is among the leaders who have chosen ‘unusual’ measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. No lockdown was imposed in the country, with Lukashenko claiming instead that the virus can be cured by “sauna and vodka”.

On The Russian Path?
In July, 2020, Russia passed a referendum enabling Vladimir Putin to continue his reign as the President till 2036. The amendment allows him the chance to contest in Presidential elections of 2024 and 2030. The referendum was supported by over 78% of the Russian voters, while the opposition leaders claimed that the elections were rigged and unfair.

The referendum also banned same-sex marriages in Russia, with Putin, who associates himself with the Russian Orthodox Church, declaring that gay marriage wouldn’t be allowed as long as “he is in the Kremlin”.

A Short History Of The Nation

  • Belarus was under the rule of several countries before World War I.
  • 1918: It was declared as the independent Belarusian National Republic.
  • 1919: Russia annexed it.
  • 1922: Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR) became the founding member of the USSR.
  • 1930s: More than 100,000 people executed in Belarus by orders of Joseph Stalin, with several thousands being sent to forced labour camps.
  • 1941: Nazi Germany invaded Belarus and killed more than 1 million people, eliminating most of the Jews in the region.
  • 1945: Most of Belarus was merged into the Soviet Union after World War II ended.
  • 1986: More than 20% of agricultural land in Belarus was “contaminated” by the Chernobyl explosion in neighboring Ukraine.
  • 1991: Belarus declared independence as the Soviet Union was dissolved.
  • 1994: Alexander Lukashenko became the President.

Relationship With Russia

  • Belarus and Russia have shared a cordial relationship since the independence of the former.
  • 2002: First conflict between the two was observed when Belarus rejected the Russian proposal of a union.
  • 2010: A tussle over the supply of oil and electricity from Russia has been going since 2010.
  • January 2020: Lukashenko accused Putin of attempting to merge Belarus back into Russia. In return, Russia withdrew its oil subsidies to Belarus.
  • July 2020: Belarus got 33 “private military contractors” of Russia arrested on the charges of inciting riots. Russia declared that the contractors were present there only due to missing a connecting flight back to their country, and warned it of “grave consequences”.
  • Little Russia is a geographical and historical term used to describe the modern-day territories of Belarus and Ukraine. The term was first used by Galician ruler Bolesław-Jerzy II in 1335.)
  • The Pahonia is the historical coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was also the official emblem of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in 1918 and of the Republic of Belarus from 1991 to 1995. On May 14, 2007 the Pahonia was declared cultural heritage of Belarus.
  • The cultural heritage of Belarus includes both material and immaterial assets, in accordance with the Law on Protection of Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Belarus. In 2007 a total of 4,811 objects of heritage were listed.

Vaccine Claims By Russia – How True Are They?

Vaccine Claims By Russia -  How True Are They?

Russia made claims of the first Covid-19 vaccine recently, though the fact was proved otherwise. With allegations of hacking also coming, the incident added to Russia’s history of hacking and interference.

Crux of the Matter

Russian Vaccine Claims
Russia recently claimed success in finding the Covid-19 vaccine and declared it the “first vaccine” of Coronavirus in the world.

Sechenov University has successfully completed tests on volunteers of the world’s first vaccine against Covid-19. The vaccine is safe.

Russian Embassy in India

How True Is It?
Only the Phase-I of the Covid-19 vaccine trials has been completed in Russia. Phase-I involves administering the vaccine to a small group of people – 30 to 80 – to evaluate drug’s safety and toxicity at different levels of doses. To compound the troubles, Russians are facing the allegation of “hacking” from the UK, Canada, and the US.

In its latest statement, the British National Cyber Security Centre claimed that APT29, a Russian hacking group, also allegedly a part of the Russian intelligence, attempted to steal data of the Covid-19 vaccine development research.

It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary, the UK

Russia has denied the claims, labeling them as “nonsense” in its official statement.

Russian History Of Hacking
Russian hackers, allegedly supported by its government, have hacked into other countries’ systems multiple times with different motives.

  • 2007: Estonia, earlier under Soviet rule, planned to shift a Russia World War II memorial. However, Russia reportedly disabled Estonia’s internet and spread false images, which triggered violent protests.
  • 2008: Russia invaded Georgia and reportedly hacked its internet system.
  • 2014: Ukraine’s election commission was taken down 3 days prior to its national elections. Police reports claimed that the hackings were done to make the Pro-Russia candidate win.
  • 2015: Attempts were made to hack into Germany’s parliamentary network. Germany blamed Russia for the attempts.

Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia and on the other hand there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this [the hackings].

Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany
  • 2015-16: The campaign of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party candidate, and other candidates were hacked multiple times. These hacks were reportedly done by Russia to aid Donald Trump in winning the 2016 Presidential elections in the US.
  • 2016: Russian interference through cyber portals was alleged by politicians during the Brexit movement.
  • 2019: Several pro-Russia propaganda and fake news portals were discovered in Poland by investigative journalists.
  • Fancy Bear is a Russian cyberespionage group which is known to target government, military, and security organizations, especially NATO-aligned states. Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has said with a medium level of confidence that it is associated with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.
  • Federal Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund is one of the state extra-budgetary funds established to finance medical services to Russian citizens. The activities of the fund are governed by the Budget Code of Russia and Russian law.
  • The financial crisis in Russia in 2014–2015 was the result of the sharp devaluation of the Russian ruble beginning in the second half of 2014. A decline in confidence in the Russian economy caused investors to sell off their Russian assets, which led to a decline in the value of the Russian ruble and sparked fears of a Russian financial crisis.