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  1. Russia Main Page
  2. The Bolshevik Revolution
  3. Emergence of the USSR
  4. The Berlin Blockade and the Cold War
  5. Dissolution of the USSR
  6. Financial Crisis, Political Upheaval, and Putin's Rise to Power
  7. A Shocking Hostage Situation, a Move Towards Climate Change, and Radiation Poison
  8. Crumbling Relations with the United States and Conflict with Georgia
  9. String of Suicide Bombs Sparks Fear of a Crackdown by Putin
  10. Protests and Unrest Surrounds the 2012 Presidential Election
  11. Russia Blocks U.N. Action in Syria, Passes New Laws against Political Activists
  12. Russia Joins World Trade Organization while at Odds with U.S. over Weapons Pact, Snowden, and Syria
  13. International Protests and Multiple Bombings Threaten 2014 Olympics
  14. Russia Annexes Crimea, Experiences Economic Fallout Due to Sanctions
  15. Putin Signs Gas Accord with China, Begins Eurasian Union as Ukraine Fallout Continues
  16. Nemtsov Is Assassinated, Two Aircraft Crash in 2015
Putin Signs Gas Accord with China, Begins Eurasian Union as Ukraine Fallout Continues

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Source: Sergei Guneyev/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

After a decade of discussion, Russia's Gazprom signed a deal to sell natural gas to China's National Petroleum Corporation in May 2014. The deal was a $400 billion, 30-year supply contract for 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The supply would start in 2018. The fuel would come from a new pipeline in eastern Siberia. By 2014, China consumed about 4% of the world's gas, but about half of the world's iron ore, coal, and copper. However, China was on its way to being the world's biggest gas user by 2035. That same month, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an Eurasian Union. Kazakhstan and Belarus joined Russia in the new economic alliance that hoped to one day rival the European Union. With a combined $2.7 trillion gross domestic product between the three countries, the union has promise. However, the fallout from recent events in Ukraine, which had been expected to be a part of the new bloc, could hurt the union and prevent it from growing to the same level as the European Union.

As the fighting and chaos escalated in eastern Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe threatened additional sanctions, on May 7, Putin announced the withdrawal of the 40,000 troops from the border with Ukraine, urged separatists to abandon plans for a referendum on autonomy, and said Russia would participate in negotiations to end the crisis. "I simply believe that if we want to find a long-term solution to the crisis in Ukraine, open, honest, and equal dialogue is the only possible option," Putin said. Both the U.S. and European officials responded with a heavy dose of skepticism that Putin would follow through.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on July 17, killing all 298 passengers and crew members. The crash occurred in territory where pro-Russian separatists have been battling Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian, European, and American officials said the plane was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, citing satellite images. President Putin denied having any role in the disaster. Most analysts said rebels may have thought they were targeting a military transport plane rather than a commercial jet. A day before the crash, the U.S. imposed further sanctions on Russia in response to Putin's refusal to stop arming the separatists.

In late July 2014, the U.S. accused Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an agreement between the two countries banning medium range missiles. The treaty stated that the Russian Federation may not possess, produce, or test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 310 to 3,417 miles, nor produce or possess launchers of such missiles. Senior U.S. State Department officials said that Russia had violated the treaty, citing cruise missile tests by Russia dating back to 2008. That same month Russia sent 20,000 troops to the border of Ukraine. The move was in response to an aggressive campaign by the Ukrainian military, which included taking control of some of the border crossings that Russia had been using to arm the rebels.

On Sept. 5, representatives from the Ukrainian government, the Russian-backed separatists, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who had been meeting in Minsk, Belarus, announced that they had agreed on a cease-fire, an agreement called the Minsk Protocol. The terms include an immediate end to fighting, the exchange of prisoners, amnesty for those who did not commit serious crimes, a 6-mile buffer zone along the Ukrainian-Russian border, decentralization of power in the Donbass region (the area dominated by the Russian-backed rebels), and the creation of a route to deliver humanitarian aid. However, the fighting continued despite the cease-fire. Between the signing of the cease-fire and early December, about 1,000 civilians and soldiers were killed-about 25% of the total 4,300 military and civilian fatalities. In addition, NATO reported that Russia has continued to supply the rebels with combat troops, vehicles, backing up claims by the Ukrainian government.

The cease-fire was all but shattered in January 2015 when the fighting between separatists and the government intensified in eastern Ukraine, rebels took over the Donetsk airport, and evidence mounted that Russia was supplying the rebels with increasingly sophisticated weapons. Poroshenko said as many as 9,000 Russian soldiers were taking part in the fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk, a claim Russia denied. Amid the crisis, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France met in Feb. 2015 to try to resurrect the Minsk Protocol. After 16 hours of negotiations, the parties agreed to a cease-fire and to end the war in eastern Ukraine.

Next: Nemtsov Is Assassinated, Two Aircraft Crash in 2015
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