Ukraine. The fighting between Ukrainian military and
Prorussian separatists in eastern Ukraine escalated in
January. According to
Countryaah.com, many people were killed and the electricity supply
was knocked out in the industrial city of Avdiivka in severe
winter cold. President Petro Poroshenko canceled a visit to
Berlin and returned home for a crisis meeting. According to
the UN, the ceasefire was broken almost every day, and the
number of casualties rose in the spring. In three years,
over 10,000 people had been killed. A quarter of the victims
were civilians. About 24,000 people had been injured.
Poroshenko planned a referendum on Ukrainian membership
in NATO, after investigations showed a majority for NATO
membership. Parliament voted during the year for Ukraine to
apply for membership, and Poroshenko hoped that the country
would meet the requirements for 2020. NATO Secretary General
visited Kiev, and it was decided to work together on a
so-called roadmap for Ukraine's path to NATO membership.
In February, Ukraine's security service accused the
Russian Federation of cyberattacks against, among other
things, the Ukrainian electricity grid.
In fighting in February, some thirty people were killed.
The parties agreed on a new ceasefire in the presence of the
contact group with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine,
Germany, France and the Russian Federation.
A former Russian MP criticizing the Russian annexation of
Crimea was murdered in Kiev in March. The Ukrainian
government accused Moscow of being behind the act against
Denis Voronenkov, who was granted asylum in Ukraine.
Ukraine sued the Russian Federation before the
International Court of The Hague (ICJ) at the beginning of
the year on charges of supporting terrorism through
financial aid to the Prorian militias that killed civilians
and shot down a Malaysian passenger plane in 2014. In April,
the court declared that it could not prove Russian
financing. But Ukraine got right in its demand for an end to
Russian discrimination against minorities in Crimea. The
Court would continue to investigate the Russian Federation's
debt to the war in Ukraine.
The central bank's reputable head Valeria Gontareva
resigned in May. Gontareva, which was cleared up in one of
Europe's most corrupt banking systems, had been subjected to
threats and pressures from powerful oligarchs and feared for
its security. In a disintegrating economy, Gontareva had
pushed through economic reforms that opened for an IMF-led $
17.5 billion aid package to Ukraine.
In May, former President Viktor Yanukovych was indicted
in his absence for, among other things, treason by
supporting the Russian Federation's attack on Ukraine.
In May, the EU decided on visa waivers for Ukrainian
citizens to the EU Member States - Britain and Ireland
excluded. The decision came into force in June and was
celebrated with festivities in Kiev.
When the Eurovision Slag Finals were held in Kiev in May,
the mood of fighting with civilian casualties in eastern
Ukraine was disturbed. President Poroshenko canceled his
presence at the festival.
In May, Ukraine decided to block access to the most
widely used Russian social media on the Internet. The ban is
valid for three years. The closure mainly affected the
people of eastern Ukraine and received criticism from human
rights organizations for violating freedom of expression.
In July, the EU approved its previously so contentious
cooperation agreement with Ukraine. It happened before a
summit in Kiev between EU leaders and President Poroshenko.
The agreement includes political and economic cooperation,
and the Kiev government hopes it will lead to future EU
membership for Ukraine. The agreement entered into force on
Georgia's former President Micheil Saakashvili was
deprived of his Ukrainian citizenship in July. He was
charged with false information in connection with being
granted citizenship in 2015. But in September, Saakashvili
moved into Ukraine across the border from Poland during a
riot, when hundreds of his followers crowded police and
Ukraine extradited two Russian journalists in August, one
of them a TV reporter who was accused of anti-Ukrainian
propaganda when reporting from eastern Ukraine. The decision
was condemned by the OSCE cooperation organization. Two
journalists from Spain were also declared unwanted.
In September, the president approved a new law that all
school education from grade 5 should be in Ukrainian from
2020. Minority languages may only be studied as an option.
Neighboring countries such as the Russian Federation and
Thousands of people demonstrated in Kiev against
President Poroshenko in October, demanding tougher measures
against corruption. One of the speakers was Micheil
Saakashvili, who demanded Poroshenko's departure. Following
the protests, Poroshenko promised a special court against