Russia-Ukraine conflict escalates

The tensions between Russia and Ukraine, which have been boiling for years, finally exploded into a war in early 2022. Ukraine had previously desired to join NATO which Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, strongly opposed. Putin’s problem with NATO and Ukraine joining is that for the past 25 years the NATO alliance has been expanding eastward which Putin views as a threat to Russia. He sought to prevent Ukraine from ever joining NATO by invading and getting rid of its government, but disguised his intent by stating to Russians that his goal was to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine. On Feb. 24, Putin announced the start of a full-out invasion of Ukraine.

Russia used missile and bombing attacks to damage Ukrainian military assets, residential areas and hospitals. However, after failing to seize Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Russia began withdrawing troops in late March from the city, instead focusing on the eastern front of Ukraine. The effects of the violence have been detrimental: there have been over 5000 civilian deaths and 6000 civilian injuries reported. Russia is also guilty of war crimes in Ukraine including bombings of civilian areas, executions, torture and rape.

On Sept. 21, Putin announced a partial mobilization or draft, which was met with multiple protests across Russian cities. Police cracked down heavily on these protests and detained more than 1300 Russian citizens. Following these protests, the Moscow Prosecutor’s office threatened participants of these protests with up to 15 years of prison time. Thousands of Russians are fleeing the country, avoiding war, resulting in traffic miles long near the border and one way tickets increasing 27 percent in price.

In early October, a bridge connecting Russia to Crimea was bombed though it is unknown who bombed it. This explosion is a detrimental blow to Russia as the bridge is an important supply route in getting Russian soldiers to Ukraine. Putin has taken retaliation for what he calls a “terrorist act” from Ukraine and bombarded cities across Ukraine including Kyiv. However, a few days after these attacks, Putin declared that there will be no more heavy attacks on Ukraine and that most of their targets had been hit. Putin said that Russia had not intended to destroy Ukraine, but he doesn’t regret anything.

With Putin stating that there will be no more heavy attacks and the stoppage of deployment, it seems as if this war might be slowing down. However, all eyes will remain on this conflict as it persists.