In the first two months of 2022, war in Eastern Europe is seemingly becoming an inevitable and irreversible reality. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia since 2012, stated his intention to invade Ukraine with the aim of protecting the people subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kyiv (Ukrainian) regime. Therefore, he allegedly aims to solely want to demilitarise Ukraine, but not to occupy it permanently. On the other hand, Ukraine is argued to be a free, sovereign, independent State with a progressive, democratically minded people. Therefore, contrary to what Putin stated, and despite arguably inhibiting some neo-Nazi elements, Ukraine deserves to maintain the sovereignty of its territories, and Russian invasion is assuredly not the answer to Ukraine’s domestic shortcomings.
Putin now argues that actions towards peace in 1941 were a mistake, and thus aims to ensure they are not repeated. In this light, it was announced that a special military action was about to take place against Ukraine. Despite the picture painted by Putin’s propagandists, Ukraine does not pose a threat to Russia.
The question prevailing among all this is – why is this invasion taking place now and what is going on in Putin’s mind? The main issues which led to this occurrence were a gift of strategic advantage and a weak Ukrainian leader. Putin is aware of the lack of stability, both economically and politically in Ukraine, thus resulting in Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s popularity rapidly decreasing. In addition, there are strategic questions which go back to 2020, when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko asked for Russia’s assistance in mitigating protests in their country. Here, Putin had a military staging post where he could launch an attack from, with the newly-established leading influence in Belarus, a strategic neighbour to Ukraine. This border’s the north of Ukraine’s largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv.
It is believed that numerous internal Ukrainian issues were irritating Putin, urging his interference. A Ukrainian politician, Viktor Medvedchuk, was Putin’s close friend and it is argued that he was Putin’s “main eyes, ears and influence in Ukraine”. This ended when Viktor was charged with treason and placed under house arrest. To counter the Kremlin influence, Ukraine’s President targeted the pro-Russian TV stations and also increased his efforts to fight against other Russian influences within Ukraine. In addition, Ukraine’s President also renewed a push towards membership in NATO. This final point of action was the tipping point for Putin.
Presently, Ukraine still lacks EU or NATO membership, but close relations are found between the two parties. The Western nations accused Russia of staging a fake crisis on Ukraine’s border, where Putin’s forces were mobilising in preparation of their imminent. This accusation was denied by Russia, alternatively stating that they were simply conducting military exercises. On the other hand, US President Joe Biden, stated that Russian troops were not planning to invade only from the eastern border, but also through Belarus (northern border), the area surrounding Kyiv, and from Crimea in the south. Joe Biden also declared: “I’m afraid to say that the plan we are seeing is for something that could be really the biggest war in Europe since 1945, just in terms of sheer scale”.
With Putin’s announcement of a special military operation, large-scale military actions started in Ukraine on Wednesday, 23rd of February. This invasion marks the end to Ukraine’s independence, which they have held since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Moreover, Putin also said that those who decide to interfere against the Russians, in an attempt to deter Moscow’s forces, will suffer consequences which were never experienced in history, hinting towards their nuclear arsenal, the largest in the world.
Back in October 2021, Putin stated that even though troops were seen at Ukraine’s border, an invasion was not being planned. Even with the increasing Russian troops and combat aircrafts together with the storage of blood supplies, Ukrainian government still didn’t believe that such an invasion would truly take place. On February 22nd 2022, Putin recognised the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk which were two break-away regions in East Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists, supported and incited by Moscow. Putin alleged that he would direct Russian troops in these two regions as a peacekeeping function. Now Europe is rapidly spiralling into a new phase, witnessing once again a reality in which “a European great power attacking the capital of another sovereign European country”.
Thursday 24th February 2022 – the day in which Putin declared war on a sovereign state in Europe. This day marks the start of Putin’s merciless and systematic launch of missiles, warplanes and tanks into Ukraine. Therefore, this day will forever be entrenched in history as the day in which the Russian threat would once again start pressuring NATO and the EU, possibly pushing Europe into its largest conflict since the Second World War.