Russia’s long-feared invasion of Ukraine continues its raging six months since Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” against the country in the early hours of February 24, the leader said. Russia claims, baselessly, the need to “demilitarize and demilitarize. Nazify” neighboring country after eight years of fighting in the Donbas.
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led by example from Kyiv, tirelessly rallying the international community in support, his people have built an impressive resistance, holding back Russia’s armed forces. as much as possible, most recently focusing their efforts on retaking Crimea.
Meanwhile, the invaders continued to use brutal siege warfare tactics, besieging the country’s cities and subjecting them to intense artillery campaigns, a strategy once seen in Chechnya. and Syria.
Ukrainian cities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol have been hit by Russian missiles in pursuit of gradual territorial gains in eastern and southern Ukraine while targeting residential buildings and hospitals. and incubators have led to outraged accusations of civilians being intentionally targeted and committed war crimes.
Zelensky’s initial calls for Nato to implement a no-fly zone remained unanswered as the West feared such action would be seen by Russia as a provocation and draw the alliance into a war. much larger in Eastern Europe.
However, US president Joe Biden, British prime minister Boris Johnson, his European counterparts and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres all condemned Moscow’s “unprovoked and unjustified” attack and promised to keep it. “responsibly”, with the West offering some tough economic rounds. The sanctions target Russian banks, businesses and oligarchs while providing more weapons, hardware and defense funding to Ukraine.
That said, the allies have also faced criticism for not doing enough to support the millions of refugees from the conflict who have fled their homelands for neighboring countries. such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
The simmering tension in the region, which began in December when Russian troops gathered on the border with Ukraine, really escalated in the last week of February when Putin officially recognized the pro-Russian separatist regions. of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states.
This allows him to channel military resources into those areas, in anticipation of an oncoming attack, under the guise of extending protection to allies.
That development means months of frenetic diplomatic negotiations pursued by the likes of US secretary of state Antony Blinken, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and British foreign minister Liz Truss in the hope of averting The final disaster went nowhere.
But what are the main issues behind the conflict, where does it all begin, and how might the crisis unfold?
How did the crisis begin?
Go back to 2014 for more context now.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula that year after the country’s Moscow-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power by mass protests.
Weeks later, Russia threw its weight behind two separatist rebel movements in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, the Donbas, which eventually saw pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk declares the independent states DPR and LPR, although they are not recognized by the international community at all.
More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting that has dragged on over the years, which has ravaged the region.
Both Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to back the rebels, but Moscow denies the accusations, saying Russians who joined the separatists did so voluntarily.
A 2015 peace accord – the Minsk II agreement – was brokered by France and Germany to help end the large-scale battles. The 13-point deal forces Ukraine to give autonomy to separatist regions and amnesty to rebels while Ukraine will regain full control of its border with Russia in rebel-held territories. .
However, the agreement is complicated as Moscow continues to insist it is not a party to the conflict and is therefore not bound by its terms.
In point 10 of the agreement, there is a call to withdraw all foreign armed forces and military equipment from the disputed DPR and LPR. Ukraine says this alludes to forces from Russia but Moscow has previously denied that it has any troops in those countries.
Last year, increased ceasefire violations in the east and a concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine raised fears that a new war was imminent, but tensions have eased as Moscow withdrew most of its forces after the war. rehearsal in April.
How is the current situation?
In early December 2021, US intelligence officials determined that Russia was planning to deploy up to 175,000 troops near the Ukrainian border in preparation for an invasion that they believe could begin as early as 2022. .
Kyiv also complained that Moscow has deployed more than 90,000 troops near the border between the two countries, warning that a “large-scale escalation” could happen in January.
In addition, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Ukraine said that Russia has about 2,100 servicemen in the east controlled by Ukrainian rebels, and that Russian officers hold all commanding positions in the separatist forces.
Moscow has previously repeatedly denied the presence of troops in eastern Ukraine, did not provide any details on their numbers and locations, and said that the deployment of troops on its territory. I shouldn’t care about anyone.
Meanwhile, Russia accused Ukraine of violating Minsk II and criticized the West for not encouraging Ukraine to comply with its conditions.
Amid the acrimony, Putin rejected a quadrilateral meeting with Ukraine, France and Germany, saying it was futile because Ukraine refused to comply with the 2015 treaty.
Moscow has also strongly criticized the United States and its Nato allies supplying Ukraine with weapons and holding joint exercises, saying it encourages Ukraine hawks to try to retake rebel-held areas. by violence.
Mr. Putin is known to be deeply resentful of what he sees as Nato’s gradual eastward shift since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and is determined to block Ukraine’s access to his ranks.
What could happen next?
With Mr. Putin’s announcement on February 24, the worst-case scenario is now a reality.
The Kremlin has previously routinely denied that it has any plans to invade, claims few believe – with good reason, it turns out.
Even after the Russian President declared war, a Russian envoy to the United Nations denied that Moscow had any grievances with the Ukrainian people, who he insisted would not be targeted, merely power holder.
That has been proven to be completely false.
Western leaders, united in condemnation, have turned Russia into an ordinary country on the world stage, their sanctions promise to harm the Russian economy, possibly eventually put renewed pressure on Mr. Putin at home, despite his best efforts to silence the media that were critical and initially opposed to the move.
Meanwhile, Mr. Biden has moved to assure the international community that Russia will be held accountable for its actions.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and devastation this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a unified and decisive way,” he said. definitely,” he said.
Now, however, the war continues in what has become a war of attrition.
Russia failed to capture Kyiv and despite numerous attacks on Ukraine’s air bases and air defenses, its air force was unable to gain complete control of the skies over Ukraine. when suffering heavy losses, limiting the ability to support ground troops.
While Ukraine’s arms-funding allies have provided a major boost to the defense effort, however, Russia has captured about 20 percent of the country, giving Putin a boost in any confrontation. future negotiations.
Ukraine will not be interested in giving in to the aggressors and any appeasement by Moscow will send a dangerous message to other autocracies around the world that the West is willing to stand up for it. their values.
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