President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that 137 soldiers and civilians had been killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting on the first day of Russia’s invasion of the country.
Russia launched its offensive by land, air and sea on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin declared war.
Putin, who for months denied plotting an invasion, said in a televised speech that he had ordered “a special military operation” to protect people, including Russian citizens, who are subject to “genocide” in Ukraine. Had given. He also said that Ukraine is an illegal state whose land has historically belonged to Russia.
What is the issue between Russia and Ukraine?
Ukraine, a country of 44 million people with a history of more than 1,000 years, is the largest country in Europe after Russia. He voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union, saying he intended to join NATO and the European Union. Putin, meanwhile, called Ukraine an artificial creation created by Russia from enemies, a feature that Ukrainians call shocking and false.
The Russian president also argued that Ukraine is a puppet of the West and has never been a good state anyway. Ukrainian crisis Putin has sought assurances from the West and Ukraine that he will not join the 30-nation NATO defense alliance.
He also wants the demilitarization of Ukraine and a neutral state. But last January, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged US President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine to join NATO. This has greatly upset Russia as it does not want Ukraine to move towards European institutions such as NATO and the European Union.
But why do Russia, America and Europe care so much about Ukraine?
Both Russia and the West see Ukraine as a potential regulator against each other. Russia considers Ukraine within its natural sphere of influence.
Much of it was part of the Russian Empire for centuries, many Ukrainians are Russian-speaking, and the country was part of the Soviet Union until independence in 1991. Russia was terrorized when an uprising in 2014 turned Ukraine’s pro-Russian president into a disproportionate one. The West towards the government.
Most of the former Soviet republics and allies in Europe had already joined the European Union or NATO. Ukraine’s withdrawal from Russian influence was like the last graveyard for Russian power in Eastern Europe.
The uprising in 2014
When Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president was ousted from mass protests in February 2014, Russia responded by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. He then supported an uprising in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, which is predominantly Russian-speaking. In April 2014, Russian-backed separatists seized government buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, proclaimed the establishment of “people’s democracies” and clashed with Ukrainian troops and volunteer battalions.
The breakaway regions held a popular vote the following month in a bid to declare independence and become part of Russia. Moscow did not accept the offer, simply using the territories as a tool to keep Ukraine on track and prevent it from joining NATO.
Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of supplying troops and weapons to the rebels. Moscow has denied that a Russian volunteer was fighting there. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board amid violent clashes between tanks, heavy artillery and warplanes.
An international investigation has concluded that the passenger plane was shot down by a Russian-supplied missile and launched from rebel-held territory in Ukraine. Moscow continues to deny any involvement.
What do the Ukrainians want?
The threat of a new Russian invasion has fueled a growing sense of national pride and unity among Ukrainians, even among those who grew up speaking Russian. Only in 2001 did opinion polls show that almost half of Ukrainians supported the country’s secession from the Soviet Union.
Today, more than 80% support Ukraine’s independence and more than half have joined NATO. Although stress is rampant across the country, life goes on more or less normally for most.
Both civilians and government leaders say they remain calm amid foreign reports of an impending invasion, and some even say they doubt Russia will actually invade. At the same time, a growing number of citizens are volunteering at defense units and enrolling in first aid courses.
(With inputs from TOI operators)