Russia is now six months after such a terrible full-scale invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, when Vladimir Putin announced his “special military operation” in a televised speech to his citizens.
Since then, Ukrainian cities have been under attack, and locals have put up bold resistance at street level to make sure the conquest is far from the formalities Putin and the Russian military apparently assumed would be.
As President Volodymyr Zelensky gives an example from the streets of Kiev’s capital city, tirelessly calling on the international community for support, his troops are holding back the Russian armed forces as best they can.
Meanwhile, the aggressor continues to employ the brutal tactics of siege warfare, surrounding the country’s cities and subjecting them to intense shelling campaigns, a strategy previously seen in Chechnya and Syria.
Units such as Kharkiv and Mariupol were destroyed by Russian rockets in their pursuit of gradual territorial gains in the east and south of Ukraine, while attacking residential buildings, hospitals and nurseries led to outraged accusations of intentionally targeting civilians and war crimes. committed.
In the west, over 5 million refugees fled the fighting, flowing into neighboring Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova, causing a serious humanitarian crisis.
US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined other world powers in condemning Moscow’s “unprovoked and unjustified” attack and promised to hold it “accountable,” while Western powers then instituted another round of economic hardship. sanctions against Russian banks and enterprises.
The Russian ruble has since dropped to historic lows against the US dollar, forcing the country’s central bank to introduce capital controls as Russian companies are boycotted around the world and its sports stars and musicians are prevented from competing in international competitions as Putin presides a state of self-authorship of pariah.
Tensions in Eastern Europe have been going on since December, when Russia stationed some 130,000 troops along its western border and then another 30,000 in Belarus, consistently denying that it had any attention to the incursions into Ukraine.
The situation drastically escalated when Putin decided to officially recognize the pro-Russian separatist regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DRL) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states, which allowed him to shift military resources to these areas in anticipation of the coming attack under the guise of extending protection to allies.
The decision to recognize the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, which first declared independence in May 2014 and has been involved in a bloody conflict since then, was made after a direct appeal for military and financial aid from their leaders Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik.
Russia previously denied Ukraine and NATO allegations that it helped arm and finance the rebels in a fight that cost more than 14,000 lives.
The international community immediately struck Russia’s calculated chess move, and the UN Security Council expressed “great concern.”
Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, insisted at the time that there would be no “new bloodshed” in eastern Ukraine, but warned the West to “think twice” before things got worse.
Behind all this is Putin’s fierce opposition to Ukraine’s accession to NATO in search of greater protection.
He is believed to wish for the return of former Soviet satellite states such as Ukraine, Georgia and possibly Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to embrace what he still considers their homeland, mourning their independence since the fall of the USSR in 1989.
The Kremlin leader previously annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 in response to Ukraine’s vote for his ally Viktor Yanukovych, disregarding the protests and international condemnation that followed.
Here are two maps that explain the turbulent situation in Ukraine as the conflict grows.
The first shows its borders within continental Europe (Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland lie in the southwest and west, while Belarus is in the north) and its main cities.
The second describes raids by Russian troops, tanks, armored vehicles and artillery units that remain concentrated to the east and south.
The Russian army has a strong presence in Crimea, and naval forces lurk in the Black Sea, which hold back grain exports for most of the summer, causing shortages in European supermarkets.
The seriousness of the situation for Ukraine is added by the significant gap in military power between the two combatants.
While Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict had less than 250,000. soldiers, Russia has almost a million soldiers at its disposal.
It also has much more sophisticated and richer military equipment, although arms donations to Kiev by allies have helped level the playing field.
Speaking about the disproportion between the two armies, Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, said it was unfortunate that his country was not part of NATO.
“We are not part of this family and we face the largest army in Europe ourselves,” he said.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we conducted our campaign to welcome refugees for the first time during the 2015 Syria War. Now, as we renew our campaign and publish this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we urge the government to go further and faster to provide help. To learn more about our Welcoming Refugees campaign, click here. Click here to sign the petition. If you want to make a donation, please click here on our GoFundMe site.