Ukraine and Russia: here’s what’s happening


Ukraine residential building destroyed by attacks.

“Peace on our continent has been shattered,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. 

Russia and Ukraine have always been at their ends, tensions rising and falling since the creation of the latter. However, the pot seemed to boil over when Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked the U.S. President Joe Biden to let Ukraine join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO).

After Russia spent weeks building a huge military force along its Ukrainian border in Belarus, Russian president Vladimir Putin launched what can only be described as a full-scale invasion of the country. However, how did it come to this?

Russian forces had invaded Ukraine before, in 2014. Much like the current attack, Putin claimed that assault was simply a defense of Russians who live in the eastern Donbas region. Putin used the invasion to claim part of Ukraine, annexing Cremia . The region, despite not being recognized internationally, has been in indisputable Russian control since the attack.. 

Since then, proxy wars between separatists funded by the Russians and the Ukrainian forces have been fought. A 2015 peace deal mostly ended larger battles but did nothing about the side fighting, leaving more than 14,000 people dead.

Days before the current invasion, Putin recognized the independence of two regions in Donbas: the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The move led to the U.S. and its allies to levy sanctions on Russia. Putin speaks often of the ethnic ties that Russia and Ukraine have as he warns NATO expansion encouraging toward his borders. Now, Ukraine’s ambassador told the UN that Putin’s wild ambition to “reestablish the Russian Empire” has expanded past Crimea.

Weeks before the offensive, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former senior intelligence analyst, said she thinks that “legacy issues [are] at play” for Putin and that “he believes that he is the last Russian leader who would be willing to take such risks to reassert Russia’s role as a great power.”

Ultimately, Putin is worried about the power of his government, according to former NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder the perpetuation of Ukraine’s independence is worrisome to him, that a thriving, democratic Ukraine is a threat to his government, as it will give Russian citizens the idea that they could enjoy what Ukraine enjoys, and overthrow his government. Many believe Putin’s objective is to topple Ukraine’s current government so it can be replaced by a pro-Russian rule.

However, that is no excuse for what Putin has done.

Vladimir Putin used the Russian military to commit crimes against humanity, including, but not limited to: the killing, torture, and rape of civilians; bombing civilian hospitals; and wanton destruction. Any one of these actions is unacceptable in any situation; Putin has no reason to do these things. Matilda Bogner, a lead investigator for the UN says that “[u]nfortunately, the longer this conflict goes on, the more violations [they’re] finding.”

Besides this, Putin had ordered Russian personnel to have nuclear weapons on high alert, meaning to be fired at any time, doing so which would break another international law. 

This obvious abuse of power is seeing no end in the close future. NATO is deploying multinational troops in hope to alleviate the pressure on Ukraine, and several countries have sent munitions over to them.

It is the hope of the international community that conflict between Russia and Ukraine ends sooner rather than later, as many lives have been taken, and many more to come if it continues.