Russia Invades the Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin declares war on the Ukraine.

Russian forces are pushing towards Ukraine’s capital, Kieve, from several directions after Russian President, Vladimir Putin, authorised the invasion of Ukraine two days ago in a pre-dawn television address on 24 February 2022. He said that Russia could no longer feel “safe, develop and exist” because of constant threats from modern Ukraine.

Russian missiles first targeted airports and military installations, near cities across Ukraine, then armoured vehicles, tanks and ground troops entered Ukraine from three directions, namely, north, east and south and from Belarus, Moscow’s trusted ally.

US President Joe Biden promised action against Russia should it invade Ukraine.

In the televised explanation for the invasion, President Putin said that his goal was to protect people subjected to bullying and genocide by Ukraine and aim for the “demilitarisation of the Ukraine” . About fourteen thousand people have died in the separatist-led eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk where Russian-backed rebels have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014. Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky has denied any claims of genocide on Ukraine’s eastern border.

Zelensky has likened the Russian attack to Nazi Germany’s invasion in World War II.

Ukrainian President, Volodimr Zelensky, has vowed to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Putin has often accused Ukraine of being taken over by extremists, ever since its pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in 2014 after months of protests against his regime.

Russia retaliated by occupying Crimea and triggering a rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk, backing separatists who have fought Ukrainian forces in a war that has claimed 14,000 lives.

In late 2021, Russia began deploying a large contingent of troops and military hardware to Ukraine’s borders, while repeatedly denying any intention to invade Ukraine. In mid-February 2022 Putin scrapped a 2015 peace treaty for the eastern region and recognised Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states. He announced that he would send a peace-keeping force to these newly recognised areas to keep the peace. This move was heavily criticised by the United States, the European Union and the UK.

The red areas are under Russian control as at 25 February 2022. Image: Courtesy of Inst for the Study of War

As these developments were taking place, NATO members, particularly the USA and the UK, kept on supplying military hardware to Ukraine and promising support against any attack by Russia. Diplomatic solutions were not given sufficient attention as the US kept on flexing its muscles and promised Ukraine that any invasion of its territory will be met with appropriate measures.

Russia has for a long time fought against Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the West’s defensive military alliance, NATO. As he announced Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, Putin accused Nato of threatening “our historic future as a nation” and declared that any country that would even think of intervening in the military campaign in Ukraine would be met with a swift response and such consequences that have never been experienced in history. For three days, Western allies could only watch in horror as Ukraine stood alone against against the might of the Russian army. They exercised restraint in order to avoid the outbreak of World War III. The best that they could do was to impose multiple economic sanctions against Russia, including its leader, Vladimir Putin and foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. But Putin appears not to be bothered by the imposition of sanctions in the short-term.

As the battle continues, the damage increases.

As tens of thousands of Ukrainians flee the country to neighbouring countries to the west, is there anything that can be done to bring a quick end to the invasion? Putin himself has said that he will only accept a surrender from the Ukrainian army and that Ukraine should undertake to refrain from joining the EU or NATO. In other words, that Ukraine should remain neutral and act as a buffer between NATO and Russia.While President Zelensky has indicated his willingness to talk, he has refused to surrender the Ukraine and encouraged all able-bodied citizens to take up arms and defend their country. He even called upon those in western countries with military training to avail themselves to assist Ukraine while their politicians remain undecided.

The United States submitted a motion to the Security Council calling upon Russia to withdraw from Ukraine forthwith. The motion was vetoed by the Russian ambassador to the UN. What remains now is for the motion to be referred to the UN General Assembly where there are no veto powers. It is not clear when the General Assembly will meet. NATO has deployed additional troops and military hardware to NATO members bordering the Ukraine.

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