Yes, we write funny headlines but yes, there’s also some major news happening elsewhere in the world that you should be abreast of—and it’s serious.
As many of you have likely heard by now, Russian military forces have invaded Ukraine by land, air, and sea from the borders of Russia, Belarus, and Crimea. CNBC reported that “there have been multiple reports overnight of explosions, bombings and Russian military vehicles entering Ukraine from various parts of the border (of) Russia, with a growing number of casualties being counted on both sides.”
Here’s an explainer on how everything unfolded and why
On Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision “to conduct a special military operation…to protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years,” repeating what CNN described as “a baseless claim about Ukraine’s Russian-separatist-backed Donbas region.”
Putin denied Russia was planning to occupy Ukrainian territories saying, “We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force,” just before making statements that give the exact opposite impression.
“Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, for our people should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history,” he said.
Less than 20 minutes later, Russian forces launched a series of missile attacks against locations near Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
So why is all of this even happening?
Well, conflicts between Russia and Ukraine have been going on at least since 2014. Mostly, it appears to be a battle over territory, as conflicts between bordering nations often are. Tensions reportedly escalated Monday when Putin stated that there were two independent “republics” in Ukraine that are pro-Russia and he announced plans to send Russian troops into the region to conduct “peacekeeping” operations, which is a weird way to describe a military invasion and missile strike that has killed more than 40 people and counting, according to Axios.
Essentially, the battle over Ukraine is a battle for influence and power. Ukraine’s government, now under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has pivoted toward the West in recent years, aspiring to join the EU and NATO and to move away from its post-Soviet orbit of Russia.
Putin, meanwhile, has decried the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a catastrophe and over his 22-year rule in Russia he has sought to rebuild Russia’s power base and sphere of influence over former Soviet states, like Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine — something of the jewel in the crown in the USSR, and a natural buffer state against Europe.
Putin has often extolled the historical unity of Russia and Ukraine and did so again Monday when he ordered troops into the Donbas.
Axios reported that before the invasion, Russia had hit Ukraine with a series of demands “including a legal guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO,” but “at the same time, Putin amassed more than 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders and conducted unprecedented military drills— preparing the option to take military action if Russia didn’t secure the concessions it was seeking.”
This is why even before Thursday’s deadly strike, leaders in the U.S. and Europe denounced the invasion as a violation of international law.
According to Essence, António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in a statement that he was “greatly concerned” by Putin’s Monday announcement, calling it a “violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
“Peace on our continent has been shattered,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “We now have war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged to history.”
Stoltenberg is apparently right about that last part because, according to Reuters, two sovereign European nations haven’t engaged in a conflict of this magnitude since World War II.
Are you keeping up with what’s happening in Ukraine???