By now, news must have spread to the remote corners of the earth about the war between Russia and Ukraine. These two nations are too close for comfort, and one of the major reasons they have this intense conflict. And if you are wondering why Russia attacked Ukraine, we did some digging for you; read on.
Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?
Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union (Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR), a former northern Eurasian empire from 1917 to 1991. Russia was the core and backbone of the USSR until its disbandment.
After the end of World War II and the subjugation of Germany, the cold war began between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was because both nations were seen as superpowers. After the Cold War, several of the former Soviet republics have retained close links with Russia and formed multilateral organizations. Some former Soviet countries, including Ukraine, have expressed interest in joining NATO since the 1990s. But Russia doesn’t want that.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries. It was established in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II. NATO ensures the implementation of the North Atlantic Treaty and checks Russia’s excesses.
NATO has its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. This means Ukraine will be a party to host Russia’s enemies and weapons, and Russia doesn’t want that. They share a border with Ukraine, so it’s just too close for comfort.
Before this time, there had been tension between both countries for annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The Pro-Russian separatists also claimed two republics in the eastern part of the country: the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, much to the Ukrainian government’s dismay.
There has also been skirmishes and fighting between Ukraine’s troops and separatists in the Donbas region.
Is it Putin’s war or Russia’s war?
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, disliked the dissolution of the Soviet Union and deemed it a catastrophe. He has been striving to rebuild the empire throughout his 22-year role in government in Russia. He has sought to rebuild Russia’s influence over former Soviet states, like Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
Ukraine’s drift toward the West and NATO aggravates Russia because it does not want to see NATO, or the EU, expand eastward to their backyard. To Russia, it would threaten their sovereignty and the lives of their citizens and create tension. So it’s safe to say that it’s both Russia and Putin’s war. Russia has security concerns, and Putin wants to rebuild his lost empire.
The War Demands
Russia demanded legal assurance from Ukraine to never join NATO or the EU, but they refused. On Ukraine’s part, they aspire to move away from their post-Soviet orbit of Russia. They don’t want to be held back because they used to be with Russia and want to exercise their full independence. It’s like a couple that has divorced for many years, the wife wishes to date or remarry, but the ex-husband feels slighted and would not allow it.
When was day zero?
The invasion began at about 05:00 EET (UTC+2) on 24 February 2022 when Putin announced a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine. After this, missiles began to hit locations across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv.
Kyiv is the capital city of Ukraine and, therefore, the main city the Russians are interested in capturing. Ukrainian citizens have fled to neighbouring Hungary, the Czech Republic, Moldova and Poland. Refugees are provided with food, shelter, and even pets are allowed. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 2 million people have fled the country.
Sanctions on Russia
Russia’s latest actions have drawn international condemnation, with the US, EU, Japan, Australia and the UK all announcing new sanctions on Russia. However, the country has already lived under sanctions for its Crimea annexation, 2016 US election interference, cyberattacks and more. The sanctions on Russia include:
- Blocking certain Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT international payment system. They will not be able to initiate financial transactions internationally.
- The EU decided to freeze any European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov
- Tokyo plans to aim at Russian financial institutions and individuals with the sanctions, as well as halt exports of military-use goods such as semiconductors.
- South Korea decided to tighten export controls against Russia, by banning exports of strategic items, and block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system
- The British government plans to impose an asset freeze on major Russian banks, including state-owned VTB, its second-biggest bank, and stop major Russian companies from raising finance in the UK.
- Britain will also ban Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from landing in the UK, suspend dual export licenses to Russia, and ban exports of some high-tech exports and parts of the extractive industry.
- Canada plans to target 62 elite individuals and entities, including members of the elite and major banks, and cancelled all export permits to Russia.
- Canada plans to prioritize immigration applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada.
- The Czech Republic banned Russian airlines from flying to its country and plans a speedy exit from two international banks set up in the Soviet era, while the finance ministry will analyze Russian-owned companies’ access to Czech public funds.
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), a major Apple supplier and Asia’s most valuable listed company, said it had a robust export control system and would follow the rules.
- Australia placed sanctions against 300 members of the Russian parliament who voted to authorize sending Russian troops into Ukraine.
- Australia is also working with the United States to align sanctions on key Belarusian individuals and entities who helped Russia.
- New Zealand imposed targeted travel bans on Russia and prohibited trade to its military and security forces.
Racism in the time of war?
Africans and Indians fleeing the conflict in Ukraine have been facing racism and discrimination at the border between Poland and Ukraine.
This was deduced from evidence gotten from videos shared out of Ukraine. The videos clearly show the Ukrainian border guard vehicle, so it’s hard to deny it.
Some Africans claim to have been stopped rudely by officials from crossing the border for not just some time but days. Despite the cold, lack of food and other supplies. Others report being sent to the back of the line to let white refugees cross first. This is a hard pill to swallow, especially when one wants to feel solidarity with Ukraine. A total of 4,000 Nigerian citizens are reportedly still stranded in Ukraine.
Aside from Africans, Indians fleeing Ukraine are also not receiving the help they need. Some Indian citizens seeking refugee in Poland were stuck at the border on Sunday and could not cross. Thank God for the Indian volunteer, Ruchir Kataria from Poland, who was in cell phone contact with Indians stuck at the border crossing into Medyka. When they tried to cross, the Indians were told to “Go to Romania.”
The group had already made long journeys on foot to the border without sleeping or eating for three days. They had no way to reach the border with Romania, hundreds of kilometres away.
In light of this, everyone should do well to know that Ukrainians aren’t the only ones suffering in this war—there are thousands of foreign expatriates who have their livelihood there in Ukraine. As Africa and the stronger nations of the world are standing in solidarity with them, they should do well to aid other world citizens. Who knows, tomorrow war may be knocking on their doors, and they will be fleeing not just across borders but across the dangerous ocean.
Conventional war + Cyberwar
While the Russians were shelling buildings and trying to take Kyiv, there were cyberattacks from an assembled Ukrainian hacker team and planned counter-attack from a hacker group in support of Russia.
On a lighter note
Ukrainian farmers moving abandoned Russian tanks with tractors
Russian soldiers abandoned many combat equipment and there are aa few videos on social media showing the abandoned tanked moved with tractors.
Kill the aggressor with his equipment
The Ukranian President announced that the abandoned tanks and ammo will be used against Russian forces.
It is our hope that the Russia-Ukraine crisis will soon be over and peace will return to Ukraine.