Ukraine was a cornerstone of the Soviet Union until it voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence in 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) pushed eastward, bringing into the fold most of the Eastern European nations that had been in Communist orbit.
NATO, an intergovernmental military alliance, was founded by 12 member countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, etc) on 4th April 1949 with a purpose to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. In 2008, NATO declared its intention to offer membership to Ukraine someday in the distant future - crossing a red line for Russia.
Vladimir Putin has indicated that NATO's expansion is an existential threat, and the prospect of Ukraine joining the Western military alliance is a "hostile act." He has emphasized his view that Ukraine is part of Russia, culturally, linguistically, and politically. While some of the mostly Russian-speaking population in Ukraine's east feel the same, a more nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking population in the west has historically supported greater integration with Europe.
Here is the entire timeline of the important developments that led to the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine:
2008: Ukraine initiated ties with NATO and showed interest to join it, which was unacceptable to Russia.
2010: Viktor Yanukovych becomes President of Ukraine and strikes a gas pricing deal with Russia in exchange for leasing a naval base in the Black Sea Port of Ukraine.
2013: Yanukovych suspends talks with the European Union and reaffirms ties with Russia, triggering mass protests in Ukraine. Due to this, Yanukovych’s Government was overthrown.
2015: The Washington Post reported the presence of ‘elite units’ of the Russian army in Ukraine.
2017: Ukraine and the European Union sign an agreement for opening markets for free trade of goods and services, along with visa-free travel for Ukrainians across European Union nations.
2018: Russia completes the construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait, which obstructed the waterways to Ukraine.
2021: Satellite images show a growing build-up of Russian troops along the Ukraine border. Russia presents detailed security demands to the West, including that NATO ceases all military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine and that the alliance never accepts Ukraine or other former Soviet nations as members of NATO.
January 10, 2022: US and Russian officials meet in Geneva for diplomatic talks but differences remain unresolved as Russia repeats security demands that the US disagrees to accept.
January 24, 2022: NATO puts forces on standby and reinforces its military presence in Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets.
January 31, 2022: US and Russia spar over the Ukraine crisis at a special closed session of the UN Security Council. However, the discussion remains unresolved.
February 1, 2022: Putin denies planning an invasion and accuses the US of ignoring Russia’s security demands.
February 6, 2022: The American officials cited anonymously in US media that Russia has set up its military forces (more than 150,000 Russian troops) and is ready to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
February 12, 2022: The US President warned Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause widespread human suffering and that the West was committed to diplomacy to end the crisis. Putin complained that NATO has not yet responded satisfactorily to Russian demands that Ukraine should be prohibited from joining the military alliance and that NATO should pull back forces from Eastern Europe.
February 21, 2022: Ukraine requests an urgent meeting of the UN General Security Council following the announcement by President Vladamir Putin that Russia would officially recognize certain areas of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk region as independent states. The UN remains fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders. The UN described the situation as ‘critical’ and assured the Council that the Secretary-General would continue to work towards a resolution to the current crisis.
February 22, 2022: Russia deploys troops in two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine after recognizing them as independent on Monday, accelerating a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.
February 23, 2022: Countries such as Australia, Canada, Norway, Japan, the United States, and the European Union have imposed tough economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.
Meanwhile, four additional flights have been announced on top of the three special Air India flights on Feb 22, Feb 24, and Feb 26 by the Indian Government to bring back Indians from Ukraine. Other airlines such as Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, and Qatar Airways are also operating their routine flights from Ukraine to India.