In early 2014, fast-paced developments saw the Ukrainian Parliament vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. In the southern Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, a pro-Russian mayor had been installed and fears were growing that the Kremlin were stoking separatist sentiment.
Previous political agreements had led to the establishment of Russian army bases in Crimea. With the support of pro-Russian civilian militias, Russia tightened its grip on the region. Soldiers moved from one Ukrainian army base to the next to negotiate with the national forces. Violence erupted as pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protest groups faced each other, with deaths and wounded on both sides.
After pro-Russian forces stormed the Parliament building, a referendum on the future of Crimea was announced. The vote concluded in favour of separation. Within four weeks, Crimea had left Ukraine and become a part of Russia.
Sevastopol, March 07, 2014 - Russian soldiers without insignia surround a Ukrainian military base. © Pierre Crom
Simferopol, March 16, 2014 - People cast their ballot during the referendum to decide whether Crimea should become part of Russia. © Pierre Crom