Facing Russia, Ukraine invasion

On Feb 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia believes that portions of Ukraine still belong under his influence and that the land is rightfully Russian territory. However, the build up to this invasion is several years in the making. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed by the US, Canada, and other Western European nations as a peacetime military alliance that promotes democratic values and peaceful resolutions. When the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO brought in most of the European countries that had previously been under communist influence. NATO is now hundreds of miles closer to Russia. NATO also started plans to bring Ukraine into its organization, which would put NATO right up next to Russia. 

In 2014, mass protests forced President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, a close ally of Russia, out of position. Russia then invaded and annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine. This also spurred pro-Russian rebellions. In April of 2019, current president Volodymyr Zelenksy was elected by a large majority in Ukraine. And at the end of 2021, Russia presented NATO with demands to ensure its security; one demand was that Ukraine must never join NATO. 

Jump to February 2022, and Russia invades Ukraine in an attempt to regain control. The invasion has been ongoing since Feb. 24 and has elicited a mixed reaction from Ukrainians, Russians, and the rest of the world. 

Zelensky, president of Ukraine, in which he addressed the Russian people as “a citizen of Ukraine.” He told them that they do not need nor want a war, but Ukraine will fight, if they have to. He also addressed the issue that Russian people do not have a free press; their government controls their press and the news. In fact, Putin has signed a law that criminalizes any “fake news” that contradicts what the government claims. But many activists, journalists, musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, doctors, bloggers, comedians, and TikTokers highlighted their common humanity with Ukrainians. 

Since then, digital activists have spread the message to Russians through pop-up ads on the internet and social media. Many Russians have protested the war, holding up signs reading “no to war!”, pleading for peace which has led to police interference. One online petition for peace amassed 930,000 signatures within the space of four days. Apple, Ikea, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coke, and Pepsi have all withdrawn from Russia, in addition to many major car brands. There has been an increase in prices and layoffs. There are limited essential goods one person can buy. And payment systems such as ApplePay and basic cash withdrawal have stopped operating. 

Many Ukrainians have volunteered to fight for their country, while two million of the brothers and sisters have fled Ukraine as refugees. The majority of the refugees are women and children, since Ukrainian men from age 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country. Many European countries have opened their doors to accommodate the surge within the space of a week, and the Biden administration allowed temporary protection from deportation for tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees already in the US. The European Union is granting temporary protection and residency permits. The company Airbnb is using their platform to raise money for their hosts in Ukraine. 

The Russian invasion is made up of mass shelling, in what many are calling a “blitzkrieg”, a military phrase coined during World War II to describe an intense military campaign to bring swift victory. However, many military experts have expressed that it’s one thing to cross a border, and it’s another thing to lay siege to a populated city with armed forces defending it. Ukraine called for a cease-fire to evacuate the citizens; however, the shelling is still continuing along the escape-routes. 

Many of the fleeing Ukrainians have been forced to leave behind belongings, friends, family, and even their pets. The shelling has mostly been concentrated on Ukraine’s north, south, and center in residential areas such as Chernihiv, Kyiv, and Mykolaiv in an effort to break Ukrainian morale. Russia has also focused their attacks on the Ukrainian nuclear plant in Chernobyl

The US and other Western countries have provided Ukraine with weapons and supplies, but not troops. The Biden administration seeks $10 billion to help Ukraine against Russia and to cover “additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance in Ukraine and the neighboring region in the coming days and weeks,” which was met with bipartisan support in Congress. 

The invasion has led to more unstable stock markets worldwide as well as a national increase of gas price. The average now is four dollars per gallon, the highest it has been since 2008. The US has placed sanctions on Russia exports, specifically oil. The whole process has disrupted global supply chains, which were still recovering from the pandemic, which has created more shortages. And “neutral countries,” such as Finland and Sweden, have seen increased support for joining NATO. 

For more and updated information, visit AP News, New York Times, BBC, or any other major news publication.