Moscow has sent troops to over a dozen countries with varying reasons since Vladimir Putin came to power just before the turn of the millennium.

Russia’s troop deployment to Kazakhstan after a series of violent protests that threatened the rule of Kazakh President Qasym Zhomart Tokayev has put a spotlight on Moscow’s military interventions around the globe.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, CSTO, a Russian-led military bloc, announced last week that Russian paratroopers have been deployed to Kazakhstan as part of a "peacekeeping force" that includes troops from four other former Soviet republics.

The forces totalled around 2,500 people, the secretariat of the bloc said, adding that the deployment comes in response to an appeal from President Tokayev to help stabilise the Central Asian country in the wake of “terror attacks” and mass protests sparked by a fuel price rise.

In recent years, the Russian Armed Forces have repeatedly participated in conflicts in the territories of both the former Soviet republics and in far-abroad countries, including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mali, Madagascar, Venezuela and Egypt.

Here we take a closer look at the five main military interventions undertaken by Russia.

Ukraine

The Euromaidan protest movement began in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in late 2013 after the government suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union.

The protests' scope soon widened and led to the Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan revolution, that culminated in the ousting of elected president Viktor Yanukovych, and the overthrow the Ukrainian government.

In early February in 2014, masked Russian troops without insignia took over the Supreme Council of Crimea and captured strategic sites across the peninsula. A pro-Russian government came in power and it conducted the Crimean status referendum, declaring Crimea's independence on 16 March 2014.

Moscow has annexed Crimea and Kiev forces are locked in conflict with separatists supported by Russia in the east of Ukraine. The fighting there has cost some 13,000 lives so far.

The move that hasn't been recognised by most of the world's nations and that triggered Western sanctions against Moscow.

Russia currently has about 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, according to Ukrainian and Western officials, amid Western fears that Moscow is preparing to invade Ukraine.

Syria

In March 2011, the Syrian regime faced an unprecedented challenge to its authority when pro-democracy protests erupted throughout the country.

Protesters demanded an end to the authoritarian practices of the Assad regime. But, the regime used violence to suppress demonstrations.

Opposition groups began to form in 2011, and by 2012 the conflict had expanded into a full-fledged civil war.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria began in September 2015 after a request by the regime for military aid against rebel groups.

Moscow deployed troops and military equipment to an air base near Latakia. Since then it has carried out air strikes targeting opposition groups.

The Russian government announced its troops would be deployed to Syria permanently at the end of December 2017.

Russia's entry into the Syrian conflict changed the political equation in the country with its direct intervention in support of Bashar al Assad. It facilitated his regime’s takeover of most of the Syrian territory.

It is estimated that there are 4,000 to 5,000 Russian troops in Syria.

Azerbaijan

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

New clashes erupted on September 27, 2020 after the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation.

According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, despite the November 10 deal ending the conflict, the Armenian army killed several Azerbaijani soldiers.

As part of the peace agreement brokered by the Kremlin, Russia has deployed a peacekeeping force to parts of Nagorno-Karabakh for an initial five years. This force comprised around 2,000-3,000 troops, a military presence in Karabakh is something the Kremlin has wanted since the early 1990s.

Georgia

Russia’s military presence in Georgia dates back to the final years of the Soviet Union, when resentments between Georgians and the Abkhazians and South Ossetians escalated into open violence. 

South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared their independence from Georgia in early 1990s. Russia had a leading role in the precarious ceasefire with the breakaway regions in 1992, which legitimised the Russian troops’ presence there.

The tensions turned to a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. 

Georgia attempted to recapture South Ossetia. Russia replied pouring troops in, ousting Georgian forces from South Ossetia and breakaway Abkhazia. Moscow recognises both as independent states. And there are now between 6,000 to 10,000 Russian troops in both regions.

Libya

Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 Arab uprisings and the subsequent overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi, leaving the country with two main rival governments. 

The Government of National Accord (GNA), is based in Tripoli and was formed as part of a UN-brokered process laid out in the 2015 Libyan Political Process.

The Tobruk-based House of Representatives was formed after 2014 elections and is led by the warlord of the self-styled Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar.

Russia has been engaging in Libyan politics by supporting Haftar, supplying him with mercenaries and weaponry.

Russia's largest military contractor Wagner Group has been sending mercenaries to help Haftar’s forces in Benghazi. Wegner is also supporting the LNA with tanks, artillery, drones, and ammunition.

Russian support to Haftar is not only restricted to Wagner, there are hundreds of other mercenaries in eastern Libya taking part in LNA’s operations.

More than 7,000 Russian Wagner mercenaries are still operating in Libya, according to Khalid al Mishri, the head of the country’s High Council of State.

Source: TRT World