A Brief History of the Ukraine / Russia Invasion

Gabriel Rader, Editor

Through all the Ukraine Crisis memes and jokes, we as a nation must take certain aspects of this situation very seriously, as it could escalate faster than you could say “draft.” 

As of now, Russia has already invaded Ukraine, but how did we get to this point, and where is this headed?

The initial tensions between the two can be brought all the way back to 1991; during the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR),  Ukraine declared its independence.

Once they declared independence, they wound up being in third place for the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile–rich in uranium. They agreed to give up the power of these weapons in exchange for America, the United Kingdom, and Russia’s word that they’ll respect their independence.

Shortly after that, in 1994, Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

For a full timeline of Ukrainian history, please see PBS News Hour.

Fast forward 20 years or so full of small disagreements between Ukraine and Russia, which include power, trade, and economic disputes. Similar to the U.S. and North Korea disputes.

Add to the continued struggle for independence, the fact that Russia invaded Crimea (a part of independent Ukraine)  in 2014 and took over claiming it for themselves. 

In Becky Sullivan’s article “Russia’s at War With Ukraine. Here’s How We Got Here,” she stated, “Ukraine has wavered between the influences of Moscow [Russia] and the West [the rest of Europe], surviving scandal and conflict with its democracy intact.” 

But, it hasn’t been an easy life for Ukraine. Sullivan reports that since 2014 and the Crimea take over, 14,000 people have died.

In the article “Russia Invades Ukraine: a Timeline of the Crisis,”  we can note that In April of 2021, Russia took a few problematic steps further. They sent about 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders, which was claimed to be for “military exercises,” but many analysts predicted a war in the near future, which was obviously correct.

Later in August, President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinski met to discuss Russia’s escalating aggressiveness. During, Biden was quoted to be committed to “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.”

November of 2021, Russia was seen reinforcing its borders with Ukraine with even more troops, raising suspicion of an invasion. 

Since then, the world has been carefully watching the moves of Russia. 

This brings us to the current issue; on February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine’s “breakaway regions.” (Donetsk and Luhansk) and sent his troops there to “keep the peace”. 

BBC reported the following, on February 24, Putin announced to the world that Russia could never feel safe because of the perceived threat from Ukraine. As a result, he launched an invasion sending tanks from Russia, Crimea, and Belarus (Russian ally) as well as planes to bomb major cities. 

Many believe the reason for the invasion is that Putin “has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the West’s defensive military alliance, NATO.”

In simple terms, Putin hasn’t gotten over the dissolution of the USSR and is looking for a way to recreate it by overtaking Ukraine.

Putin continues to send tanks, warplanes, and now Chechen military to continue attempting to overthrow major cities such as Kyiv. 

According to BBC, Ukraine’s health minister, Viktor Liashko, said in a statement posted to Facebook on February 26 that a total of 198 Ukrainians had been killed in the fighting, up from 137 a day earlier, with more than 1,000 wounded, in only days.

The Ukrainians are not taking this lying down, though. President Zelensky refused to leave the country and is fighting amidst the people. 

As quoted in The Guardian,  retired special forces general Serhiy Kryvonos said, “The Russian army has better weapons and technical equipment than us, so we may lose battles or campaigns. But they can never win the country if the Ukrainian people are motivated.”

Take a look at TikTok or other social media sites, and you will see the many ways the Ukrainian people are fighting back–from fighter pilot The Ghost of Kyiv who is shooting down enemy planes to people creating hundreds of homemade bombs.

Countries around the world are also fighting back by enacting sanctions on Russia, such as stopping pipelines and shutting down bank communication with the country. As a result, the country’s economy is suffering. Please see a list of sanctions here.

Putin is not backing down, though. Vox  news stated that this is “becoming the most devastating conflict on the continent since World War II.” Many lives are at stake as of now and only more can be expected to be as time goes on.