On 24th of February 2022, the world watched with horror as Russia launched an attack on the neighboring country of Ukraine in what is considered to be the largest military assault on a European state since the Second World War. This was the result of a conflict between Ukraine and Russia that first began in the year of 2014. This attack has led to one of the largest refugee crisis causing around 3.6 million Ukrainians to leave their country. Russia and Ukraine have had a difficult relationship for a very long time and the current situation between them has its roots in history. Here are some important facts about Russia and Ukraine conflict which will give you a clearer picture of the scenario.
– The Russians and the Ukrainians share the same ancestors which are the Slavs. Both countries were a part of the medieval kingdom called the Kyivan Rus of which the current city of Kyiv was the capital. In 1240, the Mongols from Asia captured the Kyivan Rus and split it wherein Kyiv became a part of the commonwealth which included Poland and Ukraine whereas Moscow became the capital of the Mongol Empire.
– However, in the 1500’s the formation of Imperial Russia saw the inclusion of Ukraine and Kyiv. While most people in Imperial Russia considered the Ukrainians to be their brothers, the Ukrainians themselves thought that in spite of sharing similar roots, they were different from the Russians in terms of culture, food, language and music. It is this feeling of different that is the major cause of what is the reason for Russia and Ukraine war in the present.
– In 1917, the Russian Revolution led to the establishment of USSR: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which included Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Transcaucasus. However, the history of USSR states that some Ukrainians did not want to be a part of the Soviet empire and wanted independence. However, the Soviets defeated this movement and thus Ukraine became a part of the USSR.
– When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine finally became a free country. For the following few years, Russia and Ukraine maintained cordial ties with each other owing to their historical as well as sociocultural connect. However, in 2013, the then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, wanted to remain loyal to Russia and therefore refused to sign a deal which would have increased Ukraine’s economic activity with the European Union. This led to nationwide protests in the country which eventually forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country in 2014.
– The Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that in spite of the protests in 2014, there were some Ukrainians who wanted ties with Russia. He also expressed his concerns regarding the growing military alliance of Ukraine with the United States and Europe. Therefore, when the Ukrainian President fled the country, Russia took the opportunity and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. It also sent its soldiers to the eastern part of Ukraine under the pretext of maintaining peace and helping people who wanted to be a part of Russia. This was the start of the conflict of Russia and Ukraine.
– One of the important facts about the Russia and Ukraine conflict is that both countries signed the Minsk Peace agreement in order to halt the ongoing tensions in 2014 and maintain peace. But the unrest and conflict has continued in spite of the agreement and has claimed more than 14000 lives and caused almost 1 million people to flee Ukraine in the eight years that followed.
– Recently, the tensions between Russia and Ukraine went up a notch higher when the current Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky urged the American President Joe Biden asking him to let Ukraine become a part of NATO which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO is an intergovernmental alliance between 30 countries, 28 of which belong to Western Europe. As a part of this alliance, the member countries have agreed to mutually unite in military defence in the event of an attack on any one of its members by an external party. If Ukraine becomes a part of NATO, it will receive the military support of all the other NATO countries. This very fact has not been received very well by the Russian President Vladimir Putin who perceives this as a national threat to Russia.
– In response to this move, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered “military training exercises” near Ukraine borders threatening Ukraine of dire consequences if they decide to join NATO. But, the unrelenting nature of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has angered the Russians. As a result, on February 24th 2022, Putin ordered a full scale invasion in Ukraine with the aim to capture the country and be in charge of it because he believes that Ukraine is a brother country.
– President Zelensky, who is seen as a hero by most of his countrymen, has remained steadfast in his decisions and has refused to give in to the demands of Russia. He has inspired several people worldwide and received the support of the western countries by his powerful speeches. He says that Ukraine wants peace with its neighboring country of Russia but has also stated that if needed then the Ukrainians will defend their country’s independence. One of the interesting facts about Russia and Ukraine conflict is that the Ukrainian President has released a separate video for Russians nationals asking for their support in this war.
– Russian President Putin is demanding that NATO should not accept Ukraine as one its if members and that it gives a legally binding guarantee that it will not carry out military operations in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. However, most of the western countries believe that Ukraine should be able to decide its own future. Many countries have declared sanctions against Russia in order to show their displeasure with Putin’s move. However, both parties are refusing to give in and because of this the war seems to have no end in the near future.