Chronology of news events in 2014
— Russian troops take over Ukraine’s Crimea.
— The United States and other Western nations vow a tough response to Russia’s military advance in Ukraine and warn Moscow of economic penalties, diplomatic isolation and bolstered allied defenses in Europe.
— Russia calls for a national unity government in Ukraine as it tightens its stranglehold on Crimea in a bold combination of diplomacy and escalating military pressure.
— A defiant President Vladimir Putin dismisses threats of U.S. and European Union economic sanctions, alleges that “rampaging neo-Nazis” dominate Ukraine’s capital and says Russian and Ukrainian soldiers locked in a standoff in Crimea are “brothers in arms.”
— Israeli naval forces seize a ship laden with rockets allegedly bound for militants in the Gaza Strip and officials accuse Iran of orchestrating the 5,000-mile (8,000 kilometer) journey.
—Ukraine lurches toward breakup as lawmakers unanimously declare they want to join Russia and plan to put the decision to voters. President Barack Obama condemns the move and the West imposes the first real sanctions against Russia.
— Russia is swept up in a patriotic fervor for annexing Crimea with tens of thousands of people thronging Red Square and chanting “Crimea is Russia.”
— A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board vanishes on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, setting off a massive search for its whereabouts.
— Testimony in the first week of Oscar Pistorious’ murder trial is riveting and more evidence is expected as prosecutors seek to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the double-amputee athlete intentionally shot dead his girlfriend.
— Syrian rebels release a group of Greek Orthodox nuns in exchange for dozens of women held in government prisons — a rare deal between Damascus and al-Qaida-linked rebels, mediated by Qatari and Lebanese officials.
— A Swedish reporter is shot dead in Afghanistan while reporting in an affluent and well-guarded area of Kabul, highlighting fears of rising violence ahead of crucial presidential elections.
— President Barack Obama says the United States will “completely reject” a referendum in Crimea opening the door for the Ukrainian peninsula to join Russia, with Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at his side.
— Survivors says dozens of gunmen on motorbikes have killed more than 100 villagers in a conflict over land in northern Nigeria.
— Paris could deliver France’s first-ever genocide conviction, sentencing a former Rwanda intelligence chief to 25 years in prison over the 1994 killings of at least 500,000 people in the African country.
— Malaysia’s prime minister says a Malaysian jetliner missing for more than a week had deliberately diverted and continued flying for more than seven hours after severing contact with the ground, meaning it could have gone as far northwest as Kazakhstan or into the Indian Ocean’s southern reaches.
— Crimeans vote to leave Ukraine and join Russia, overwhelmingly approving a referendum that sought to unite the strategically important Black Sea region with the country it was part of for some 250 years.
— Russian President Vladimir Putin recognizes Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as an “independent and sovereign country,” ignoring sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries and creating the most profound rift in East-West relations since the end of the Cold War.
— President Vladimir Putin redraws Russia’s borders by reclaiming Crimea, provoking denunciations from the Western leaders who call Putin a threat to the world.
— Ukraine announces plans for massive troop withdrawals from Crimea, surrendering to Russia’s inexorable seizure of the strategic peninsula.
— President Barack Obama orders economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and a major bank that provides them support, raising the stakes in an East-West showdown over Ukraine.
— The Taliban kill nine people in a luxury hotel in Kabul that had tight security, boasting two weeks before national elections they can strike anywhere in Afghanistan.
— Pope Francis names initial members of commission to advise him on sex abuse policy, signaling an openness to reach beyond Roman Catholic church officials to plot the commission’s course and priorities: half of the members are women.
— Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirms than a Boeing 777 airliner with 239 people aboard that has been missing for 16 days plunged into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean.
— Ukraine’s fledgling government orders troops to pull back from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces storm and seize bases on the peninsula.
— President Barack Obama declares that a security summit took “concrete steps” to prevent nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists, though Russia and China fail to sign agreement to beef up inspections.
— Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, the Egyptian military chief who removed the elected Islamist president, announces he has resigned from the army and will run for president.
— The world rushes to help Ukraine, with the International Monetary Fund pledging up to $18 billion in loans, the U.N. condemning the vote that drove Crimea into Russian hands and the U.S. Congress backing even harsher sanctions against Moscow.
— Russian President Vladimir Putin calls President Barack Obama to discuss a solution to the crisis in Ukraine; they agree top U.S. and Russian diplomats should work on the details.
—A U.N. panel of scientists reports on how climate change is affecting humans and the planet and how the future will be worse unless something is done about it.
— A decisive victory in local elections gives Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan momentum that could see him start a campaign to become the country’s first directly elected president; ruling Socalists take a drubbing in France’s voting.
— The United States talks to Israel about releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard from his life sentence as an incentive to Israelis in the troubled Mideast peace negotiations.