What you need to know about the war between Ukraine and Russia

Be in the know based on this background summary

BY BRENNA KHIEV, STAFF WRITER; Fact Checked by Paul Auger

Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, 2022. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, claimed Russia was unsafe due to modern Ukraine. Putin also claimed the invasion to be for the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of modern Ukraine.

Putin’s demands are for Crimea to be recognized as part of Russia, deny access of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Ukraine and for NATO to reverse eastward expansion, requiring NATO to remove its military forces from member states that joined from 1997 onward. 

Roughly 3000 civilians of Mariupol and Kharkiv died during the war. Up to 6000 Russian Armed Forces and 4000 Ukrainian Forces have been killed as well.

An estimated 3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia’s invasion. Ukrainians have fled to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Belarus, Moldova and Russia.

Countries providing support to Ukraine include Germany, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, the U.S, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Croatia and Italy.

President Biden announced today an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine. The assistance will include equipment from the Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help them defend their country.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is linked to Ukraine’s relationship with NATO. Cooperation started when Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1991. In September 2020, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine approved of Ukraine’s new National Security Strategy with the aim of gaining membership in NATO.

NATO was set on denying Ukraine membership due to concerns on how it would affect the relationships between European leaders and Russia. Promises to accept Ukraine as part of NATO faded when Russia began to invade.

NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance originally created to give security against the Soviet Union. NATO’s purpose is to secure freedom and security through political and military means.

For background, Ukraine has wanted to be a member of NATO since at least 2008. Things changed two years later when Victor Yanukovych was elected president. Yanukovych didn’t want to join NATO but he fled from office after a popular uprising. 

After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Ukraine’s government formally applied to NATO membership again. While Russia has made it clear that Ukraine will never join NATO, NATO has said it is not Russia’s decision. The NATO Alliance is being very cautious about letting Ukraine Join for fear that Russia might follow through with their threats.

Also worth noting is what transpired after the breaking of the Soviet Union: Ukraine found itself with 1,600 nuclear warheads. Ukraine signed a pact (the Bucharest Summit Declaration) with Russia in 2008 stating that Russia would get all the nuclear weapons in exchange for promising never to invade Ukraine.

As of today, Ukraine and Russia are still at war with bombings having been spotted in Kyiv, Kharkiv and many more.

Some reports this week are now deeming this is a war of attrition, defined by Encyclopedia.com as “a term used to describe the sustained process of wearing down an opponent so as to force their physical collapse through continuous losses in personnel, equipment and supplies or to wear them down to such an extent that their will to fight collapses.”

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