The Ongoing War Between Russia and Ukraine

Chinmayi Joshi '25

Political conflicts constantly occur, however, occasionally these conflicts turn violent and lead to the deaths of innocent people. Invasions caused by imperialism are not merely a thing of the past, but are occurring right now. Russia, the largest country in the world by landmass, is invading its smaller neighboring country, Ukraine. There has been a lot of build-up and tension before this occurred. In 2014, a Russian-backed Ukrainian leader was ousted from office after multiple protests. Russia, angered by the removal of a pro-Russian leader, seized the Ukrainian region Crimea, triggering a rebellion in which certain eastern parts of Ukraine rebelled against the government and wished to separate. With ongoing conflict over the issue, fighting claimed over 14,000 lives. Russia recently acknowledged these separatists, and backed them as independent[1].

In addition to supporting the separatist areas, Russian president Vladimir Putin continues to claim that the Ukraine government is committing genocide. Putin paints himself as a hero, claiming that he wants to liberate the Ukrainian people undergoing a genocide, and wants the “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of  Ukraine. Critics argue that since the Ukrainian president, Volodymr Zelensky, is Jewish and vehemently anti-Nazi, such claims are unlikely to be true. As such, he thinks of Russia’s invasion as similar to the German invasion in World War Two [2].

Russia, perhaps seeking to imperialize nearby nations, loathes the presence of western NATO forces stationed in neighboring countries. Putin feels threatened by the presence of NATO in Eastern Europe, and the invasion of Ukraine is a means of stopping growing a western presence in post-Soviet states. Ukraine wished to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a defense organization whose fifth article states that if one member country is threatened, the others are obliged to aid with any means possible.  Now in a desperate bid to protect its democracy and autonomy, Ukraine is attempting to defend itself against Russia’s vast army and resources [2].

After growing tensions, Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 24th. Russian forces swarmed into Ukraine from four major places. First, the Northern route that includes the Chernobyl power plant is a corridor to Kyiv: a maneuver that allows Russian troops to cut a shorter path to Ukraine’s capital. It also provides an opening for aid from Belarus, Russia’s ally, to easily enter Ukraine. The Russians also entered through the Northeast, and have so far seized the area up to Kharkiv. Another point of entry for Russia was from the east, heading west and effectively liberating Luhansk and Donetsk, the two areas that were rebelling against Ukrainian leadership. The last major entry point was through the 2014 captured land, Crimea, and the Russians were able to launch an attack upwards as well [2, 3].

In response, NATO nations have placed numerous economic sanctions on Russia, such as cutting off banks from accessing the SWIFT money transfer system. This limits the flow of currency across international borders. Russia can get around this, however, due to the backing of China. NATO countries are also attempting to freeze Russian international assets. Sanctions have been placed upon Putin himself, as well as his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. These personal sanctions include a travel ban and freezing their individual international assets [4]. However, troops are not being sent to Ukraine itself, only to strengthen nearby NATO nations. 

As Russia’s aggression increases, Ukraine must find a way to retain its independence, and possibly with little help from the western hemisphere.