“You’re occupants. You’re fascists. What the f**k are you doing on our land with all these guns? Take these seeds and put them in your pocket, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all die here.” These are the words of a Ukrainian woman who confronted a Russian soldier in the port city of Henichesk along the Sea of Azov in the Kherson province of southern Ukraine on February 27, 2022, during the third day of the Russian invasion into Ukraine.
On February 24, Russia began the most significant military action in Europe since WWII, crossing the border into the sovereign state of Ukraine. A move condemned by nearly every other country in the world. Even some of Russia’s closest allies, such as China and India, have remained neutral. However, pro-Russian propaganda has been rising in those countries in recent days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin justifies his county’s actions by claiming that since Ukraine is a former Soviet republic under the Soviet Union that collapsed in 1991, it already belongs as a part of Russia. Furthermore, Putin claims Ukraine initiated the conflict with no verifiable evidence. The Russian president is also accusing Ukraine government of genocide in the Donbas region of Ukraine. A charge denied by international non-governmental organizations focused on human rights. There are also allegations Ukraine is a neo-Nazi regime. An accusation was made despite the apparent evidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Putin’s weakest arguments are that Ukrainians and Russians share a common history and culture.
Russia’s military outnumbers the Ukrainian forces on every front. Still, since the start of the war, the Ukrainian army has managed to slow Russian advance and force Russia to re-strategize its attack. Making Putin’s plans to annex Ukraine more difficult than he likely imagined.
International assistance to aid Ukraine in the fighting is stymied because Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) formed after WWII. The organization unites member countries under a policy whereby if one NATO member is attacked, the attack is considered an attack on all member countries.
While tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have fled the country, many are being welcomed by neighboring counties like Poland. All Ukrainian men of fighting age are ordered to stay and fight the invasion. People worldwide are attempting to travel to Ukraine in the hope of joining the Ukrainian forces and fighting Russia. There are news articles such as, “[w]ant to go fight for Ukraine? Here’s what to do,” published by the Military Times providing instructions for those who wish to join the Ukrainian side of the war. Already some American civilians have arrived in Europe intending to fight.
The United States Department of Defense has authorized $550 million in assistance to Ukraine to defend their country from Russia. The U.S. has donated over $1 billion in aid to the Ukraine military in the past year. Other countries like Belgium and Germany have been donating weapons packages that include surface-to-air missiles, machine guns, and anti-tank weapons.
Swift and powerful sanctions have been levied against Russia by several countries, including the typically neutral Switzerland, designed to halt Russia’s ability to participate in the world economy.
The Pentagon estimates military casualties on both sides to be around 1,500. However, those numbers are likely higher and will undoubtedly increase as the war presses on. One hundred two civilian casualties have been reported in Ukraine.
Hours of peace talks between the warring countries have yielded no results. Talks are said to begin again on Wednesday, March 03. Ukraine is asking for a cease-fire while Russia is escalating its attacks.
“[Putin] will never extinguish [Ukraine’s] love of freedom. [Putin] will never, never weaken the resolve of the free world,” said U.S. President Joe Biden in his first State of the Union address on March 02, 2022.