What is Happening in Ukraine

What+is+Happening+in+Ukraine

What you need to know about the Russian-Ukrainian Crisis

EVE SLEMP

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Ukraine showed interest in joining NATO in 2008 and again in early 2021. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, guarantees freedom and security between the alliance of currently 30 countries in Europe and North America. It promises that if one nation is invaded or attacked by a third party, all the countries in NATO will defend that one nation. It was created in 1949 to protect countries against the Soviet aggression and includes countries from the previous Soviet Republics of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, and Russian occupied countries like Ukraine’s neighbor, Poland. 

Map of Ukraine showing where Russia is invading the Ukraine (New York Times)

Russia does not want Ukraine to join NATO, for Russia claims to “protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers from Ukrainian persecution,” according to US.NEWS, who are currently living in provinces in southeastern Ukraine. The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, views the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “disaster,” therefore, he is interested in regaining Russia’s dominance through the expansion of Russia into Ukraine. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until it gained its independence in 1991, which was when the Soviet Union collapsed. President Putin still does not recognize Ukraine as having the right to be its own country, therefore is attempting to take over Ukraine and regain territory. He views Ukraine wanting to join NATO as an act of hostility towards Russia. Originally, the West thought that Putin would take over only the two provinces backed by Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine (The Luhansk and Donetsk region), but as time progressed, Putin attempted to take over the entire country. If  Putin gains control of  Ukraine, he will thenborder NATO countries ofPoland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, which creates tension and the potential effect of a world war if Putin continues to expand into these allied countries. Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would “lead to consequences you have never seen in history” 

What is the history between Russia and Ukraine?

Ukrainian President Zelensky fighting side by side with his country’s army (BoomLive)

Russia and Ukraine are historically linked as far back as the 9th century when the Rus, a medieval group which established land in Russia, moved their capital to Kyiv, the modern day capital of Ukraine. Putin uses this as an argument of how Ukraine is historically bound to Russia. In 1991, Ukraine finally left the Soviet Union, but never established a strong democratic government and continued to have tense foreign relations with Russia. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a peninsula off of Ukraine, which helped establish the Russian separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. Crimea also gave Russia access to the Black Sea for trade. The regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have experienced tension and fighting between the Russian Separatists and the Ukrainian government since 2014, due to disputed demarcations. Russia views Ukraine as a buffer against NATO, while Ukraine sees Russia as a hostile aggressor who only wants to occupy their territory. According to The Washington Post, President Putin believes that Ukraine cannot exist without Russia, for Putin wrote in July, “Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.”

How did the invasion occur?

“Ukrainians will resist” – an anti-war protest against the threat of the Russian invasion (Aljazeera)

The shelling in Donbas, Ukraine began on Feb. 21 and has only intensified since then. On Feb. 24, the full-scale invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine commenced after President Putin authorized military action to “defend itself against threats from Ukraine.” Russian missiles hit Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv. Russian troops poured across the borders of eastern cities of Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Luhanks, and Mariupol. The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, is experiencing assassination threats from the Russians. The death of the president would likely result in the advance of Russian occupation and takeover of Ukraine. 

What happens next?

Nato countries, like Poland (pictured here) show support during the Ukranian crisis (ForeignPolicy)

There is no clear answer as to what will happen next, but the entire world is keeping a close eye on every move Putin makes, ready to take action if necessary. The United States predicted that the Russian attack on Kyiv may cause up to 50,000 civilian casualties and even more soldier deaths. Bordering NATO countries are preparing for an influx of Ukrainian refugees as they attempt to flee from their war-ridden country. As of now, NATO countries are remaining uninvolved in order to avoid a world war, but sending forces to reinforce borders. If NATO countries engage, the tension for a global-level war will rise exponentially. The United States sent troops to Poland and also $450 million to Ukraine in order to provide stronger security and aid to refugees as Russia continues to build up forces along the western border of Ukraine, in case Russia decides to continue expansion into NATO countries. All bordering NATO countries are building up these forces. Global economic instability will rise and an increase of gas prices and potential rise in inflation can be expected almost immediately, already concerns felt presently and it is already here in the United States. The speed at which Russia is invading Ukraine is rapid, therefore will most likely result in a quick, impending, and devastating end; and no one is coming to save Ukraine.