Explainer: Russian invasion of Ukraine
On Thursday, February twenty-fourth, of 2022, Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. The question on the minds of many right now, is why. Why did Russia invade Ukraine? To understand that, one needs to look to the past.
In the wake of World War Two, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), was formed in response to the Soviet Union. The point of this was to have an alliance to exist during peacetimes and to curb the spread of the Soviet Union. After the war, the Soviet Union went through hardship that led to its collapse in the early 1990’s, while NATO had only grown since the war. NATO currently consists of thirty countries across Europe and the western hemisphere.
Ukraine has expressed interest, in recent years, in joining NATO. This can be seen with the amendment to their constitution wherein they state their intentions to join NATO, and over the years, moves have been made between NATO and Ukraine to further this goal. These moves have been seen by Russia, Mr. Putin specifically, as an affront against Russia as he is unhappy with the eastern influence that NATO has in Europe.
Putin claims that NATO had made commitments to stay away from Europe, but defied these commitments after the Soviet Union fell. Now NATO has a large number of European countries in the alliance, and adding Ukraine would put NATO right at Russia’s borders. Mr. Putin believes this is going too far, especially as he has been committed to bringing Russia back to the powerhouse that it was before the Soviet Union fell. This Soviet Union powerhouse once included Ukraine, but after it was dissolved, Ukraine decided to declare independence in 1991. So the idea that Ukraine would want to join the once competitor of the Soviet Union, has really disgruntled Putin.
As of right now, Mr. Putin has made many claims about why he has started the invasion, saying that there is a genocide occurring in Ukraine fueled by Nazi sentiments which is simply untrue. The real reason behind the invasion seems to be the history between Russia and Ukraine, and Putin’s inability to let go of the past.
Currently, neither NATO nor any other country or alliance has made efforts to provide actual military support to Ukraine, but they have expressed their disdain for Russia’s actions in many different ways. The United States for example has placed sanctions on Russia and condemned their military actions as well as providing verbal and humanitarian support to Ukraine. Surrounding European countries are taking in refugees from Ukraine and giving them asylum. Some countries are providing Ukraine with weapons which has been a controversial move as some leaders are afraid that Mr. Putin will take that as an attack against Russia and wage war against them. So far, Ukraine has managed to stand its ground in the face of Russia’s attack, but Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has repeatedly asked for direct military assistance for his people, this has not occurred yet.
On a smaller scale, people who wish to help Ukraine can donate to reputable charities that are providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine such as UNICEF.
Even though he has been met with fierce resistance, Putin has not backed down yet but he is facing threats to his position from all sides. World leaders have condemned him as well as corporations, his people are angry as they are feeling the effects of the sanctions imposed on Russia, and his close friends, the wealthy oligarchs, are unhappy with him as their assets are being affected by the sanctions as well.