The escalation of tensions on the border between Ukraine and Russia, with the displacement of thousands of troops, puts Europe ahead of the possibility of a new armed conflict. Many international actors believe the Russian invasion is very likely, which would give rise to a new episode of the war between the two countries.
This confrontation, which intensified from 2014, has its main phases in the Donbass Region (the provinces -Oblasts- of Luhansk and Donetsk) and in the Crimean Peninsula, territories occupied by Russia, despite the fact that they are internationally recognized as part of the Ukrainian territory.
It is estimated that the conflict has gone away to date more than 10,000 dead (almost 5,000 on the Ukrainian side and 6,000 on the Russian side) and more than 20,000 wounded, in addition to tens of thousands of displaced persons.
On this occasion the conflict extends further to the west, in the oblast of Kharkiv, this is where Ukraine fears an invasion that could lead to a full-scale conflict.
But tensions between Russia and Ukraine this is not the only armed conflict what Europe has experienced over the last few decades. We review the most recent events on continental soil.
Nagorno-Karabakh War (2020)
Claimants: Armenia and AzerbaijanDuration: The conflict lasted a month and a half (from 27 September to 10 November)
Deaths: More than 7,000 (3,000 Azeris and 4,000 Armenians)
Details: Azerbaijan carried out an offensive on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been in dispute for decades. The country had the support of Turkey, with a significant number of Syrian mercenaries and with the supply of weapons by Israel, while Armenia received weapons from Russian side. After several failed ceasefire attempts, the two parties agreed with Vladimir Putin to resolve the conflict. With this understanding, Azerbaijan came to take control of the nine capitals in the region, in addition to all the surrounding areas that were under Armenian rule, and the border with Iran.
Wars in Georgia (1992-93, 1998 and 2008)
Claimants: Abkhazia + Russia and GeorgiaDuration: The first war (1992-93) lasted one year, one month and 13 days, the second (1998) eight days and the third (2008) 12 days.
Deaths: The figures are not clear. It is estimated that at least 25,000 people died in the first conflict, just over 500 in the second and about 900 in the third.
Details: With the recent fall of the USSR and the consolidation of the borders, the separatists of Abkhazia, a majority of the population of this region, took advantage of the tense situation in Georgia in 1992 (a state engaged in a civil war immersed) to try to proclaim their republic themselves, with the support of Russia. It was not recognized internationally, and also caused an offensive by state forces in the field. Tens of thousands of civilians were forced to move in the face of ethnic cleansing lived. At the end of this first conflict, Abkhazia became de facto independent, although it remained part of Georgia in terms of international recognition. Five years later, tensions flared up again with a series of Georgian insurgency attacks in the same region. The conflict was rapid and had no geopolitical consequences as it was confronted by Abkhazia. A decade later, and already in the present century, Russia turned even more directly to the separatists of Abkhazia and Ossetia, another area in a similar situation. After 12 days of clashes, the country then advanced by Dmitri Medvedev managed to expel the Georgian minorities from these territories and establish military bases in them, in recognition of their independence (something the international community has never done before).
Balkan Wars (1991-2001)
Claimants: Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia
Duration: Between the various wars in the Balkans, the conflict lasted ten years and seven months.
Deaths: Between 130,000 and 140,000
Details: The ethnic-religious divisions between the different regions of antiquity Yugoslavia they led to a series of bloody conflicts that lasted for more than a decade, which ended with the gradual dissolution of the state to give rise to the seven countries that exist today. First, it was Slovenia that achieved its independence with a brief confrontation that lasted only ten days. Later would come one of the most difficult episodes, the war in Croatia and its subsequent expansion Bosnia and Herzegovina. For history remains the political confrontation between the personalized nationalisms in the leaderships of Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia) and Franjo Tudman (Croatia), as well as sad events such as the matanza de Srebrenica (more than 8,000 deaths in one week, in an ethnic cleansing effort). Cities like Mostar The Sarajevo They were completely crushed. Later, the also terrible war would come in Kosovo, for more than a year and with an outcome that is still going on (many countries, such as Spain, still do not recognize this state). Finally the war came Macedonia. Years later, Montenegro peacefully became independent.
Chechen wars (1994-96 and 1999-2000)
Claimants: Russia and Chechnya
Duration: The first conflict lasted a year and eight months. The second lasted nine months, although the rebellious uprising would last for almost nine years.
Deaths: In the first war between 40,000 and 80,000 people died, most of them civilians (at least 3,600 Chechen soldiers and 5,700 Russians). In the second, the figures are much more confusing, as there was no clarity during the period of rebellious uprisings. The number of military casualties would be about 24,000 (more than 7,000 Chechens and more than 16,000 Russians) and civilians would be anywhere between 50,000 and 250,000,
Details: Russia tried to gain control of the self-proclaimed and unrecognized Chechen republic, and tried to overthrow its rulers with raids that culminated in the bloody Battle of Grozny. The local guerrillas, with the support of the Mujahideen and Ukrainian right-wing forces, initially managed to resist, although Russia, after months of fighting and with the city virtually completely destroyed, managed to surrender. The offensive by the Russian forces continued for several months, with practices that international organizations viewed human rights violations and war crimes. The tension would continue for the next few years, until in 1999 Islamic forces in the area declared their independence and demanded a holy war. Russia reacted harshly and besieged Grozny again, eventually establishing a loyal government in the region the following year. However, the rebellious action would continue for almost another decade, in an area that has only come to know a degree of stability in recent years.
Civil War in Albania (1997)
Claimants: Albania – Rural rebel forces
Duration: The conflict lasted about half a year
Deaths: Between 2,000 and 4,000
Details: The country’s transition to a market economy has led to an escalation of violence that has escalated into civil war. The United Nations has intervened in favor of the official forces. The resolution efforts at the ballot box, which included socialist victories (which were on the side of the rebels), were anything but peaceful, with accusations of fraud, violent episodes and unacceptable results. After a few months, the situation was redirected, which restored order and normalization in the country without major geopolitical consequences. In the ensuing years, Albania would finally complete its progressive transition to the Western world.
Transnistrian War (1990-92)
Claimants: Moldova and Transnistria
Duration: The armed conflict lasted one year and eight months
Deaths: Between 1,000 and 2,000
Details: This Moldovan region, located in a strip along the border with Ukraine, experienced years of tension as there was a strong nationalist sentiment supported by Russian forces. Moldova, in turn, had the support of Romania in the conflict. The clashes continued for months, with so many military and political movements, until the powerful Russian contribution tipped the scales in favor of the local side. The definitive ceasefire brought with it the fact that for three decades Transnistria was a de facto independent territory, with its own language, its own currency and its own government, and with a political organization that made it one of the last strongholds of the Soviet world, although internationally the area is still recognized as part of Moldova.