Croatia aimed to leave Yugoslavia as a sovereign country, while the Serbs, supported by Serbia, opposed the secession and wanted Croatia to remain a part of Yugoslavia. The Serbs effectively sought a new Serb state with new boundaries in areas of Croatia with a Serb majority or significant minority, and attempted to conquer as much of Croatia as possible. The goal was primarily to remain in the same state with the rest of the Serbian nation, which was seen as an attempt to form a "Greater Serbia" by Croats (and Bosniaks). In 2007, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) returned a guilty verdict against Milan Martić, one of Serb leaders in Croatia, stating that he colluded with Slobodan Milošević and others to create a "unified Serbian state". In 2011 the ICTY ruled that Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač were a part of a joint criminal enterprise of the military and political leadership of Croatia whose goal was to drive Krajina Serbs out of Croatia in August 1995 and repopulate the area with Croatian refugees.
At the beginning of the war, the JNA tried to forcefully keep Croatia in Yugoslavia by occupying the whole of Croatia. After they failed to do this, Serbian forces established the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) within Croatia. After the ceasefire of January 1992 and international recognition of the Republic of Croatia as a sovereign state, the front lines were entrenched, United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was deployed, and combat became largely intermittent in the following three years. During that time, the RSK encompassed 13,913 square kilometers (5,372 sq mi), more than a quarter of Croatia. In 1995, Croatia launched two major offensives known as Operation Flash and Operation Storm, which would effectively end the war in its favor. The remaining United Nations Transitional Authority for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) zone was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia by 1998.
The war ended with a total Croatian victory, as it achieved the goals it had declared at the beginning of the war: independence and preservation of its borders. However, much of Croatia was devastated, with estimates ranging from 21–25% of its economy destroyed and an estimated USD $37 billion in damaged infrastructure, lost output, and refugee-related costs. The total number of deaths on both sides was around 20,000, and there were refugees displaced on both sides. While many refugees from both sides returned to their homes, and Croatia and Serbia progressively cooperated more with each other on all levels, some tension still remains because of verdicts by the ICTY and lawsuits filed against each other.