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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Borders, Bombs and Bans: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine 

The European Union has also joined the resistance against Russia, with the exception of Belarus

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RUSSIA/UKRAINE: Amidst the ongoing savagery taking place in several parts of Ukraine, perpetuated by the Russian military, under President Vladimir Putin’s commands, with the aid of Iran-made drones, the rest of the world awaits with bated breath, to see the horror unfolding. 

Since the inception of Putin’s “special military operation” that began on February 24 this year in Ukraine, Kyiv had refused to bow down before Russian bullying and retaliated fiercely by launching “counter-offensive measures” in several parts of the Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk regions and reclaimed territory sacred to Ukrainian sovereignty.  

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Moscow’s tirade has not died down, however, as it continues to attack civilian infrastructure in Kyiv using drones and military shells, all the while claiming to annex four regions of Ukraine- Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson- having conducted voting referendums in those areas just a few weeks ago.

The referendums have been severely denounced by Kyiv, Western governments and the United Nations as “sham” and “illegal”, accusing Moscow of annexing vast tracts of Ukraine under the guise of a legitimate election. In reality, several Ukrainian reports have suggested that these regions, occupied by Russian soldiers, have turned citizens into hostages and forced them to cast a “sham” vote at gunpoint.

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Now, as the shelling and attacks pile on, with Western allies aiding Ukraine with hefty multi-million-dollar packages and military hardware while Iran supposedly helping Putin with kamikaze drones and Shahed-136s.

Let us take a brief look at the history before the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine voted for independence, which was largely supported by the people and turned Ukraine into the second-largest European country, both in terms of land mass and a sizeable population of ethnic Russians.

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Following Ukraine’s self-sovereignty, the famous Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed in late 1994, transferred Ukraine’s nuclear weapons to the Russian Federation, rendering it a country without a nuclear arsenal. All the signatories, including the U.S., the U.K. and Russia, agreed to recognise and honour Ukraine’s sovereignty and its rights to its territory.

Following the Russian resistance to Ukrainian NATO membership in 2008 and Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 (to incorporate ethnic Russians), Putin began the manifestation of his political agenda- to unify Russia and Ukraine as they are “one people”.

When Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk broke away, under the leadership of what some Ukrainian officials suggest to be Russian-backed terrorists, Putin recognised these regions as independent in late February of 2022 and sent troops to “keep the peace”.

Russia’s full-scale invasion bombarded the eastern region of Donbas first, resulting in president Zelensky’s declaration of martial law in the land, cutting off all diplomatic ties with Russia. After nearly six months of severe shelling in several parts of Ukraine, including the major cities of Kyiv, Mariupol, Dnipropetrovsk and others. 

Over seven months into the invasion in mid-September, Ukrainian forces retaliated with great rapidity, reclaiming over a thousand square miles, including the northeastern region of Kharkiv. Putin was infuriated and somewhat overwhelmed by Ukraine’s strong military force and the wave of Western support for Kyiv’s cause. In response, Russians attacked Ukrainian infrastructure, rendering several powerless without power and water.

Putin’s military challenges began to increase as his mandatory military call-up to secure 300,000 able-bodied Russian men to fight on the battlefield backfired as hundreds of thousands began to flee in the opposite direction. The decision was highly controversial, nonetheless, with reports of men way past the age of military conscription being forced to turn up for registration in late September. 

October 5 was a landmark moment in world history as president Putin defiled all means of diplomatic relations and signed papers to annex four regions of Ukraine-Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia- as part of his referendums which Kyiv and the West dismissed as “sham”. Western wrath began to pour out as the United States and its allies, even the United Nations, slapped strict sanctions on more than 1,000 Russian people and companies.

What began as a worrying situation surrounded by hopes for dialogue and diplomacy has evolved into the “most blatant act of aggression in Europe since World War II,” according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.

Foes and Friends

Since the days of the infamous Cold War between 1947-62, the United States and Russia have maintained cordial relations, on the surface at least but resorted to light tiffs here and there over the military, economy or other diplomatic ties.

The Ukraine crisis has pushed the U.S. to a higher degree of ferocity- by backing Ukraine with several hundred and thousands of dollars of military hardware, even president Joe Biden calling out Russia for its hand in “war crimes” against the Ukrainian people. Now, the U.S. is on full course to aid Zelensky in every way it can to secure Ukrainian territory and win the fight against Russian autocracy.

Following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Boris Johnson, who prematurely resigned due to the Partygate Scandal, new Conservative premier Liz Truss has reiterated her support for Ukraine on many occasions, pledging military support and tactical battle skills to win the fight against Putin.

The European Union has also joined the resistance against Putin, with the exception of Belarus, whose leader would rather support his ally and diplomatic friend, Putin, than stand one with the west. Putin’s other friends have joined hands with him, including North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and supposedly Iran, whose sacred leader Ayatollah al-Khomeini is lately under the stress of his own making.

Another key country India has remained on the fence, perhaps to honour its diplomatic ties to Russia, since the Russian Federation is one of its most prized suppliers of military armaments, food grains and other essential items.

Arms or the Man?

Both sides of the two warring factions have conveniently made use of tactical war weapons, including drones, artillery shells, military tanks, Shahed-136s, and so on, to ravage what is left of the entire eastern tract of Europe. However, Putin’s patience may be thinning out after Ukrainian counter-measures and its supposed involvement in the Crimea Bridge blast could prove lethal to the Red forces.

If Putin ultimately decides to unpack his nuclear arsenal, launching the world into a full-blown state of war in the midst of rising poverty, hunger, inflation, soaring energy prices and a whole other list of issues threatening mankind, all one can do is simply wait for the storm to pass or buy a piece of land on Mars, like Bezos or Musk.

Also Read: Ukraine Acquires Territory That Putin Had Annexed to Russia

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