The Russo-Ukrainian War, previously referred to as the Ukrainian crisis in its early stages, is an ongoing international conflict between Russia, alongside Russian-backed separatists, and Ukraine, which began in February 2014. Following Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and supported pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian military in the Donbas war. The first eight years of conflict also included naval incidents, cyberwarfare, and heightened political tensions. In February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In early 2014, the Euromaidan protests led to the Revolution of Dignity and the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Shortly after, pro-Russian unrest erupted in eastern and southern Ukraine. Simultaneously, unmarked Russian troops moved into Ukraine's Crimea and took over government buildings, strategic sites and infrastructure. Russia soon annexed Crimea after a highly-disputed referendum. In April 2014, armed pro-Russian separatists seized government buildings in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region and proclaimed the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) as independent states, starting the Donbas war. The separatists received considerable but covert support from Russia, and Ukrainian attempts to fully retake separatist-held areas failed. Although Russia denied involvement, Russian troops took part in the fighting. In February 2015, Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk II agreements to end the conflict, but the agreements were never fully implemented in the years that followed. The Donbas war settled into a violent but static conflict between Ukraine and Russian proxies, with many brief ceasefires but no lasting peace and few changes in territorial control. Beginning in 2021, Russia built up a large military presence near its border with Ukraine, including within neighbouring Belarus. Russian officials repeatedly denied plans to attack Ukraine. Russian president Vladimir Putin criticized the enlargement of NATO and demanded that Ukraine be barred from ever joining the military alliance. He also expressed irredentist views and questioned Ukraine's right to exist. Russia recognized the DPR and LPR as independent states in February 2022, with Putin announcing a "special military operation" in Ukraine and subsequently invading the region. The invasion was internationally condemned; many countries imposed sanctions against Russia and increased existing sanctions. Russia abandoned an attempt to take Kyiv in early April 2022 amid fierce resistance. From August, Ukrainian forces began recapturing territories in the north-east and south as a result of counter-offensives. In late September, Russia declared the annexation of four partially-occupied regions in southern and eastern Ukraine, which was internationally unrecognized. It spent the winter conducting failed offensive operations in the Donbas, and in the spring dug into positions for an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. The war has resulted in a refugee crisis and tens of thousands of deaths.
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