Russia-Ukraine war: recap and updates

Addison Michael, Staff Writer

Spring of 2021 marked the beginning of Russia’s extensive war preparation, peaking with the initial invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The events of the year unfolded in this order:

– Spring 2021: Russia begins gathering troops in close proximity to Ukraine borders, calling it ‘training exercises’.

– Feb. 2022: Troops begin surrounding Ukrainian borders.

– Feb. 2022: The United States (U.S.) sends troops to Poland and Romania, as well as threatens Russian president Vladmir Putin with economic sanctions.

– Feb. 24, 2022: Russian forces invade Ukraine after Putin authorizes ‘special military operations’.

Shortly after the invasion, Ukraine’s allies Germany, England and the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia as punishment. These included halting authorization for a soon-to-be operating natural gas pipeline (once operational, the pipeline would financially benefit Moscow) and freezing assets between Russia and the U.S. in order to cut off most financial transactions. More retributions would come in the upcoming months.

Almost nine months later, the war rages on, resulting in nearly 40,000 civilian fatalities (and counting) as of early November. It’s estimated that around 200,000 soldiers – Ukrainian and Russian – are either injured, missing or deceased. Repeated attacks on civilian infrastructure have left more than 4.5 million Ukrainians without power, inducing apprehension of what is to come. 

Having decided 300,000 troops wasn’t enough, Putin announced the assemblage of an additional 18,000 Russian troops on Nov. 4. According to Ukrainian forces, eastern attacks have increased significantly; however, Ukrainian troops are holding a strong defense. On Nov. 8 Russian headquarters in Melitopol, Ukraine were attacked – casualties and further details are still unknown. 

Allies continue to remain cautious when it comes to the supplies and weaponry sent. The possibility of Ukraine’s radical success is concerning to them as it could push Putin to escalate to nuclear weaponry in desperation. Dr. Ulrich Speck, a German foreign policy analyst based in Heidelberg and Berlin, spoke on the allies’ prudent contributions.

“The idea seems to be that Russia should not win, but also not lose,” said Speck. 

Despite being located a great distance from the conflict itself, even the U.S. cannot evade the impacts that the Russia-Ukraine war is having on the world. Inflation in the U.S. skyrocketed with the presence of COVID-19, growing higher as the toll of the sanctions strikes. The virus has already left the country in a vulnerable state, allowing the sanctions to impact its economy harder than it should.

Most recently, two Polish civilians were killed as a result of a presumably accidental missile strike that occurred near Ukraine borders on Nov. 15. Both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskly have denied any fault in the incident. As of now, it is still unclear which was responsible.

The combined efforts of democratic countries have implemented a unification that would usually take much longer to develop in other circumstances. 

“We must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul.  We must remain unified today and tomorrow and the day after and for the years and decades to come.” said President Joe Biden. 

For Ukraine’s allies, unification is a common goal – and it’s working.