Russia and Ukraine: How Did It Escalate, and What’s To Come?

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Oluwadamilola Afe, Editor / Writer

On February 24th, 2022, Vladmir Putin, the president of Russia, announced a military operation that would take place in eastern Ukraine. Only shortly after, missile strikes were happening across the country, including their capital. Ukraine has stated that their borders with Russia and Belarus were targeted, and weakened. People from around the world are shocked, and are fearful of rising tensions, especially if and when a third party gets involved, as Putin himself has stated that “if anyone tries to impede their activity, they will see consequences they have never seen before.”

So where is this conflict coming from? What’s going on with Ukraine and Russia, and what’s to come of it?

This conflict has been in hands since 2014. Following a protest that happened within Ukraine that resulted in the impeachment of the president Viktor Yanukovych at the time, unmarked Russian soldiers began to take strategic positions within the country. After Putin was allowed to use militant force for the upcoming operation, Russia moved to forcefully take, or annex, Crimea, which is Ukrainian territory.  The unrest was triggered by protests from pro-Russian citizens, as Ukraine refused to sign a contract that would slowly assimilate them into the European Union. Putin has said that the objective of the 2022 invasion is to defend pro-Russian speakers in Ukraine, however Ukraine claims that is false, and Russia wants to forcibly take Ukraine back as their territory.

Russian troops began mobilizing in 2021 and 2022, where it became much more apparent that something was brewing between the two countries. Russia is extremely intent and focused on their goal, despite sanctions from other countries which, can be seen as passive ‘punishment’ for aggressions, such as cutting trade off from the aggressing country. Sanctions have come from the United States, the EU, and many other organizations who don’t agree with Russia’s actions. Russia has retaliated with their own sanctions as well. As Russia has already launched their attack, it looks dire for Ukraine as they are facing an impossibly large foe, especially with civilian lives at danger. Ukraine’s president has declared martial law, so that the government can keep civilian life safer by imposing more control over them.

Many people have had talks of being drafted, or a nuclear war happening, but those fears are nothing but exaggerations. A draft is extremely unlikely to happen due to the fact the military is mostly voluntary, and there are enough current troops right now to avoid a forceful conscription. Draftees also won’t contribute much to the war as they won’t have the experience, drive, or initiative a voluntary soldier would, and would take more time and energy to train. Fears of a nuclear war are also the result of constant fear-mongering. No country as it stands right now is willing to engage in nuclear warfare, as many superpowers are equally able to retaliate with the same amount of force, and that doesn’t mention the ethicality of nuclear warfare either. The U.S., Russia, nor Ukraine will suffer from something as powerful as a nuclear bomb. It is too crude and will cost needless civilians their lives.

A war more likely to happen is what has been happening for years now between countries under most of our noses – cyberwarfare. Countries engage is technological warfare by sending government-backed hackers to attack other nations and countries. Objectives and goals range from stealing information and secrets to shutting off major services, like power grids and other major things. An example of this is when government-backed hackers attacked a solar plant within the United States, called SolarWinds, and caused a major power outage along with information being stolen. Cyberwarfare has been happening across multiple nations for a very long time, and is a type of warfare many never hear or even know about.

Although the tensions in Ukraine are growing, as a person living in the United States, you don’t need to worry about an all out war that threatens you at home. This invasion is still breaking, and much has yet to develop from the situation. There’s no need to call doomsday just yet.

Keep yourself updated on the situation with news outlets, and articles about the growing events.

#PrayForUkraine