On February 24, 2022, Russian forces unleashed a wave of attacks on neighboring Ukraine. Since Russia had been assembling troops on the Ukrainian border since October 2021, the large-scale deployment invasion north, east and south was not totally unexpected. However, US and European Union (EU) officials hoped that the threat of punishments dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from taking this radical action. To better understand how we got here is essential know a little about the long, complicated relationship between the two countries.
the tensions between the two countries dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ukraine and Russia were among the fifteen republics that broke free and formed their own governments. But President Putin has always maintained Ukraine should be part of Russia.
In the days leading up to the 2022 attack, he told the Russians: “Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space out. They are our comrades, those who are dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people related by blood, by family ties.”
However, the fierce independent Ukrainians do not share this feeling. In 2014 they ousted President Viktor Yanukovych for abandonment a trade agreement with Europe in favor of a rapprochement with Russia. Shortly thereafter, Ukraine temp worker President Alexander Turchinov signed an association agreement with the EU.
President Putin retaliated taking control of Crimea, a former Soviet republic that had been part of Ukraine since 1954. That same year, pro-Russian activists established a bastion in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government gave the separatists autonomy in the region to end the conflict. However, the militants did not achieve the full independence they wanted and sporadic fighting between Ukrainians and Russian separatists continues to this day.
Why has Russia decided to invade Ukraine now?
In his February 24, 2022, before dawn address to the public, President Putin affirmed that Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist” due to what he claimed was a constant threatens of modern Ukraine. The Russian leader is particularly concerned about Ukraine’s desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the goal of the consortium of 30 countries is guarantee freedom and Security of its members through Politics and military means. President Putin believes that Ukraine acceptance in NATO would threaten Russia’s borders and its sphere of affecting.
What is the world doing to stop the invasion?
Since Ukraine is not part of NATO, members cannot send troops to help them defend against Russia. But the United States and its allies impose unprecedented economic punishments against the country. On February 22, 2022, the EU, US, UK and Canada all agreed to prevent Russia from accessing its foreign exchange reserves. They have also made it harder for the country to receive funds from pro-Russian countries like China by removing some banks from the global international payment system, SWIFT. Meanwhile, Switzerland, which has historically remained neutral during the conflicts, announced that it was freezing all assets held by Russian individuals and companies.
Businesses are also joining the effort to end the war. Energy giants BP and Shell, global bank HSBC and the world’s largest aircraft leasing company AerCap are among a growing list of companies that have recently announced plans to leave Russia.
How are the Ukrainian people holding up?
the conflict was extremely difficult for the Ukrainians. At the request of the President, all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 remained defend their country. Meanwhile, women, children and age are leak to safety in large numbers. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that around half a million Ukrainians have crossed into neighboring countries since the start of the war. More than half of them went to Poland, while the others went to Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.
Stay strong, Ukraine! The world is with you!
Resources: NPR.com, CNN.com, BBC.com, CBSnews.com, Wikipedia.org, AlJazeera.com