Russia & Ukraine | Zoey Preston
Updated: Feb 26
For the past few months, Russia has been building up forces near the Ukrainian border, slowly surrounding the country on all sides, deploying over 150,000 troops to surround the country.
Conflict in this area is nothing new––disputed territory on the Russian and Ukrainian border has led to war between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military since 2014, including Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Tensions between Russia and NATO over the past several years haven't helped either. NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a political and military alliance between Europe and North America promoting democratic values and collective defense. 2020 saw Ukraine pass legislation aiming to join the treaty. However, Putin has continually pushed against Ukraine joining NATO after the organization expanded to include countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
But Russia’s recent movement of troops looked, to many, like preparation for a full-force invasion or some kind of large-scale military action.
On Wednesday, the conflict came to a head when Russian forces launched an assault on Ukraine from three sides. President Putin, appearing on TV quickly after, justified the invasion by claiming that Ukraine was a threat to Russia Ukraine was a threat to Russia and NATO’s Eastward expansion. He believes Ukraine is a part of Russia, and his goal is to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine––most of his arguments being false and full of propaganda.
Since Russia declared war, they’ve begun targeting several airports and military headquarters and are focusing attacks around major cities and specifically Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. They’ve also taken control of a Ukrainian airbase and Chernobyl, the site of the world’s first nuclear disaster.
As many Ukrainians and Kyiv fled the city to the Polish border, Ukrainian President Vlodmyr Zelensky released a statement pledging that Ukraine will defend itself and asking for help from world leaders. He believes that he is Russia’s number one target, saying “According to our information, the enemy marked me as target No. 1, my family as target No. 2. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
So far, the West is responding economically: the United States, the UK, and Canada have all issued sanctions against Russia. Some considered removing Russia from SWIFT, an international banking system, in the hopes of cutting off Russian funds from moving in and out of the country. However, Joe Biden said that while it is “always an option,” it’s not the Western powers’ plan as of now.
So, what exactly does all this mean, and what effects will it have on the world as a whole?
Many wonder what this means for the global economy; it could lead to an increase in energy prices and supply shortages. Russian oil exports could cause a shift in oil prices across the world.
Obviously, the threat of global war is still looming over us. This is the biggest grab for land since World War II and could possibly lead to an all-out conflict. However, the U.S. is determined to stay out of conflicts and is committed to peace; Biden has not taken any military action yet and doesn't plan to. However, he says he’s committed to defending NATO allies and has sent troops to several countries in the alliance, particularly in Eastern Europe.