Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? Keys to understand the conflict

Ukraine.- The army of Russia invaded Ukraine after the Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in the east of the neighboring country in the early hours of Thursday, February 24, 2022, but why russia attacked ukraine?

The Russian president assures that the military deployment in Ukraine is intended to protect people from “abuses and genocides” that the Ukrainian government has perpetrated for 8 years.

Brief timeline of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia

To understand the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it is necessary to go back 8 years, to 2013when they were made mass protests in Kyiv against the suspension of the association agreement of the European Union signed by the pro-Russian president Victor Yanikovich.

The protests began by groups of university students, but soon became more massive, accentuating the division of Ukrainian society between pro-Russian and pro-European.

Read more: Russia against Ukraine: a very unequal military battle

The protests intensified in 2014, leaving almost a hundred dead, which led to the impeachment of the Ukrainian president and the intervention of the Russian army in the Crimean peninsula, which Putin’s government joins after the “yes” victory in a referendum rejected by the UN and Western countries. Consequently, the G8 leaders expel Russia of the group, which becomes the G7.

Later, in April 2014, the conflict spreads to the Donbas regionin eastern Ukraine, detonating a war between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatistsaided by Russia, which has caused more than 14 thousand dead on both sides to date, according to UN estimates.

In 2017, Vladimir Putin sent a message to the then president of the USA, Donald Trump, in which he clarified that Russia will never return Crimea to Ukraine. The Donbas war drags on for the next few years, with little fruit in efforts for a ceasefire.

It is until 2021 that the tension escalates more drastically. Russia decides to withdraw its US ambassador after President Joe Bien declares that he considers Putin a murderer.

By April 2021, Kiev reports that more than 100 thousand Russian military are concentrated in the region, the highest number in the Russia’s border with Ukraine since 2014. Moscow limits itself to saying it is conducting exercises in response to NATO’s “threatening military activities” near its borders.

Photo: AFP

The diplomatic tension between Russia and USA escalates with the deportation of 10 employees of the Russian embassy in Washington, to which Moscow responds by expelling 10 US diplomats.

In an attempt to rapprochement, the presidents of Russia and the USA meet in Geneva, with few results, followed by more military exercises by the Russians and NATO.

At the beginning of December 2021, the international press announces that Russia prepares an invasion against Ukraine by early 2022 with more than 175 thousand soldiers. The European Union and United States warn Putin that they will respond to any aggression against Ukraine.

For his part, the Russian president insists that Ukraine should not become a member of the NATO, demanding “security guarantees” from the West. The tensions escalate in the following weeks.

By February 21, 2022, Vladimir Putin declares the separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansky as independentordering the deployment of russian troops in those territories. The West rejects such actions and Germany and the USA announce sanctions against the Russian gas pipeline project.

On February 23, Ukraine declares a state of emergency and authorizes the use of weapons for its citizens. In turn, they ask all Ukrainians to leave Russia and hours later there are cyberattacks against the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine. Photo: AP

The war begins: Putin’s motives

The highest point of tension is reached February 24thwhen the president of Russia announces a “special military operation” in Ukraine to protect people from “abuses and genocides” perpetrated by the Ukrainian government.

A couple of days before the Russian troops began the invasion, Vladimir Putin asserted that “Ukraine is not just a neighboring country”, but that its “history, culture and spiritual space” is one with Russia.

“Our kinship has been passed down from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and memories of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that bind millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. Because we are one people,” declared the Russian ruler.

He even claimed that modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia, recalling the actions of Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union in transferring to the country territories that previously belonged to Poland, Romania and Hungary.

Shelling has been reported in various parts of Ukraine since Russia announced the military operation. Photo: Special

After the fall of the USSR and the formation of the Russian Federation, Moscow recognized the new geopolitical realities, and even did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country, Putin said.

Likewise, he maintains that the true sovereignty of Ukraine is only possible in association with Russia, for which he blames the modern Ukrainian authorities for the decline of the country and the rejection of the Russians.

“Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. However, many people will listen to me. And I will say one thing: Russia has never been and will never be ‘anti-Ukraine.’ what Ukraine will be depends on what its citizens decide,” the Russian leader said.

With the deployment of Russian troops, bombing began in much of Ukraine, including the capital Kiev, with attacks directed mainly at Ukrainian military bases.

Read more: Russian air strike leaves 18 soldiers dead in Odessa, Ukraine

The international community’s reaction has been to condemn Russia’s attacks, while Ukraine’s president declared martial law and called on world leaders to “stop Putin.” The reports of the first victims of the war begin and the Ukrainian population undertakes a chaotic flight from Kiev.

With information from EFE and The world.

This is how the first Russian attacks against Ukraine were experienced