The Russia-Ukraine Conflict: How Did It Get Here?

IMG Source: AP/Republic World

MANILA, Philippines — In the early morning hours of Feb. 24, chilling air raid siren sounds blasted across the City of Kyiv, signaling the city is under attack, after Russia launched its military operations in Ukraine’s capital.

As of writing, 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed during the ongoing invasion, and 1,115 people have been wounded, as stated by Ukraine’s Minister of Healthcare Viktor Liashko on his Facebook Page.

Based on Al Jazeera’s report, a Ukraine official said  that there have been more than 3,500 Russian soldier casualties.

All over the world, the media’s attention suddenly shifted from the coronavirus pandemic to the ongoing Russian attack in Ukraine.

IMG Source: AP/

Why Does Putin Want to Conquer Ukraine?

Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union (SU), and was one of the most powerful republics, serving as Europe’s largest producer of wheat. In 1991, the SU collapsed and Ukraine declared independence.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a key player in triggering the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, is a security alliance built to counter Soviet aggression in Europe during the Cold War.

NATO has opened its membership to Ukraine, but as of date, that offer has not been formally accepted.

Now, Russia’s President Putin believes that Ukranians and Russians are one people so Ukraine should not be a separate state and must be prevented from joining NATO.

Putin believes The Kremlin has the right to control Ukraine as it was once part of the historic imperial Russia.

IMG Source: BBC
Former Soviet Union Countries | IMG Source: World Atlas

Putin’s Side

In his statement, Pres. Putin said the special military operation “aims to protect people who have been bullied and subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.”

He said the People’s Republic of Donbas, occupied by pro-Russian separatist groups Donetsk and Luhansk, asked for their help.

As a response, they will “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to bring justice to those who committed multiple bloody crimes against civilians and Russian citizens.

Notable events in the tension buildup before the attack (as outlined in a report by Al Jazeera)

In November 2021, more than 100,000 Russian troops started to surround the Ukraine border.

Alarmed by the development, US Pres. Biden warned Russia of the consequential economic sanctions it will face should it invade Ukraine.

The diplomatic talk between Russia and US took place in Geneva on Jan. 10, 2022. However, the Kremlin’s demands were not accepted by Washington.

After that meeting, Washington released a response to Russia’s security demands; after a few days, Putin said its main concerns have not been met but they are open for further talks.

By Feb. 6, Russia’s military formation for an invasion was already at 70 percent.

The Pentagon ordered 3,000 more troops to protect its ally, Poland. Several countries urged their citizens to evacuate Ukraine.

On Feb. 12, Presidents Biden and Putin met through a video conference. Biden told his Russian counterpart that the West eyes diplomacy for resolution, but asserted that they are “prepared for other scenarios”.

Putin insisted that Russian demands for NATO to pull back and reduce its presence in Eastern European countries, and to not include Ukraine have still not been addressed as he had hoped.

Several days later, Vladimir Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states from Ukraine and ordered troops into these territories as “peacekeepers”.

On Feb. 24, the Russian invasion in Ukraine began.

During Day 1 of the attack, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law.

In Al Jazeera’s daily monitoring of the invasion, there are currently more than 340,000 refugees: 115,000 in Poland, 160,000 are internally displaced, 50,000 in Hungary and Romania, and 16,000 in Moldova.

Other nations have expressed their strong disapproval of this invasion by imposing sanctions on Russia: US and UK have imposed sanctions against Russian banks, Germany has halted the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.

Meanwhile, Pres. Zelenskyy posted a video of him with his constituents, reassuring Ukranians saying, “We are all here defending our independence, our state and it will be so further.”

Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC

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