In the autumn of 2021, Putin began to engage in coercive diplomacy on Ukraine as it stationed large troops in intimidating formations strategically around Ukraine’s borders. It eventually escalated into an ongoing war between both nations in February 2022. But why did Russia Invade Ukraine? Read along to find out.
What is Ukraine’s Relationship with Russia?
According to Russian irredentism, Ukraine was regarded as a daughter state belonging to a larger Russian state before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
As such, Putin and many other Russian leaders do not accept Ukraine as a separate nation or real state and seek to integrate it into the larger Russian fold.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also seeks to reinstall Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture. Furthermore, he aims to resist the further Eastward spread of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Additionally, Putin seeks to recover its historical sphere of influence around its western borders. Reclaiming Ukraine is seen to be pivotal to achieving this goal.
Why Did Russia Invade Ukraine?
So, why did Russia invade Ukraine? Putin claims that his invasion of Ukraine was in order to denazify and demilitarize it.
However, it has been established that conquering Ukraine was vital to restoring “Historical Russia” – which has been one of Putin’s biggest goals since becoming Russian president.
According to him, Ukraine had neo-Nazis as leaders and they were persecuting the Russian minority present in the country. Before the Invasion, Putin announced that he intended to support two Russian-backed states via a special military operation.
The two states, the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk had been engaged against Ukraine in the Donbas conflict since 2014.
In the last week of February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic as independent states, although the developments are disregarded by the international community.
This move enabled Russia to move military supplies into the areas as it prepared for its assault on Ukraine while pretending to provide aides to allies.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in an attack that is regarded as the biggest on a European country since the Second World War. The invasion is seen as an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war that began in 2014.
What Events Followed Invasion?
Russia started by launching air strikes as well as a ground invasion, leading to Ukraine’s enactment of martial law and ordering a general mobilization.
The war raged on, causing thousands of military and civilian casualties. Russia bagged sanctions and international condemnations due to the invasion.
The Council of Europe expelled Russia while several other countries imposed sanctions on Russia and Belarus (its ally). In March 2022, the International Court of Justice passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding a full withdrawal.
Millions of Ukrainians have escaped to neighboring countries including Poland, Romania, Moldova, and the Czech Republic. About 8 million Ukrainians are internally displaced.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to receive military and humanitarian aid from multiple countries, mainly the United States, Germany, and Great Britain.
Can The Ukraine War Become a Nuclear Conflict?
As Ukraine’s resistance stiffens, concerns are growing that President Putin may resort to the use of Nuclear weapons.
In September 2023, Putin made a televised address in which he ordered a military mobilization of 300,000 reservists and further reasserted his willingness to use nuclear weapons against the West if it interfered.
Ukrainian President Zelensky has appealed to NATO to implement a no-fly zone, but the West fears that Russia may interpret its granting such appeals as a provocation and drag the war to a larger part of Eastern Europe.
Zelensky has stated that Russian officials have begun to “prepare their society” for the possible use of nuclear weapons. However, he maintains that he does not believe that the Kremlin is not ready to go that far yet.
Russian President Putin continues to pursue his goal of reuniting every member of the USSR and believes that the conquest of Ukraine is pivotal to achieving such dreams.
He also seeks to reclaim a historical sphere of influence and resist the advancement of NATO. Meanwhile, Putin frames the invasion of Ukraine as a war of necessity, not choice.
While the West continues to condemn Russia’s invasion, it maintains certain boundaries as it fears Russia interpreting any of its action as a provocation – leading to a larger nuclear war.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to stand its ground despite being battered by larger Russian forces.
At present, the death toll has reached thousands, with Russian forces targeting Ukrainian hospitals, residential buildings, and even nurseries in their attacks.