Ukraine: Where It All Began
Why Russia Raged War
By Maeve Topliff
Although the media seems to have forgotten, there is still a war being carried out upon Ukraine.
It can be so hard to find accessible resources to explain what is going on and misinformation can be overwhelming. The levels of violence and hatred in the world can often make it all seem hopeless, but having a deeper understanding and educating ourselves is always the first step to making change. So here is a very shortened history to aid us all in that learning process.
From 1988-1991, the Soviet Union was a conglomerate of 14 Soviet countries. After it was dissolved, Russia still felt as though many soviet countries were its property. Some of them were okay with this, and some weren’t. Ukraine did not want to be under the control of Russia. However, there are two regions of Ukraine that are Pro-Russia and are on their shared border (that is important information for later).
America, the UK, and many European countries are part of an organisation called NATO. Amongst many things, NATO sets out rules and agreements about how we can own nuclear weapons. Russia is not part of NATO, nor does it support it. However, Since 2008 there have been discussions of Ukraine joining NATO, which Russia has branded as a threat to their borders and safety.
Ukraine is not an official member of NATO currently, but is a ‘partner country’ which means they may be allowed to join in the future. Russia wants Western members to guarantee this will never happen. If Ukraine was in NATO, all other NATO countries would be obligated to protect them against the invasion from Russia.
In December of 2021, President Putin stationed troops on the border between Russia and Ukraine which caused rumblings about an invasion. On the 21st of February, Putin moved to recognise the two regions of Ukraine that are pro-Russia as independent states. This meant he could move troops into these areas, which was a pretty clear indicator he was planning an invasion.
Western countries did speak out against Putin and in an effort to stop him invading Ukraine, placed sanctions on Russia. Sanctions are (typically financial) punishments used as a deterrent for war. However, the sanctions were criticised for not being strong enough as they were shirked off by government officials rather quickly. This is a common problem with sanctions as some countries are either so wealthy, or so profoundly in debt that they will easily take on the burden without batting an eyelid.
Since February 2022 a full scale war has broken out and while Russia seemed to overpower Ukraine, the country has fought valiantly and reclaimed much of their land. However, the Russian military has been merciless and targeted many civilian towns and cities. In a matter of months their lives have been turned upside down, their homes have become minefields, and safety is no longer guaranteed.