The Dawn of a War
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, mounting tensions finally boiled over in Europe when President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would be “de-militarizing” and “de-nazifying” Ukraine in what he referred to as a “special military operation.”
In addition to addressing the people of Russia and Ukraine, Putin also turned his message briefly to the rest of the world. His words held a grim promise to anyone who attempted to intervene in the conflict, pledging “consequences greater than any of you have faced in history.” From that moment on things in Ukraine were about to change for the worse.
It didn’t take long for a political response from the Western countries and other European countries that were concerned with the future of Ukraine if Russia continued with their invasion. President Biden publicly condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” by the Russian military. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, vocalized during a virtual seminar that NATO is working towards a world of democracy and emphasizing how “we are stronger and safer when we stand together.”
In just an hour’s time, Russia had advanced into Ukraine from all sides, leading to full evacuation of all airports and leading to the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, announcing this was not just a Russian military operation, but a “full-scale invasion” on the country. He also went on to say “This is a war of aggression. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.” This alarming statement seemingly kicked the world into gear, and slowly but surely the world began to show their support for the people of Ukraine in terms of political aid and sanctions against Russia and its leaders.
While an emergency United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting was held, the situation in Ukraine worsened. During the meeting, Russia’s Ambassador of the UN, Vassibly Nebenzia, tried to assure the world that there was no real threat to Ukraine, as Russia was simply there for the people Russia deemed as “junta”. He went on to finish his remarks by saying, “In conclusion we aren’t being aggressive against the Ukrainian people but against the junta that is in power in Kyiv.”
The declining stability in Ukraine proved differently, however. In response to Putin’s televised statement, Ukraine’s parliament passed a law that gave rights to its citizens to carry firearms in public. While echoes of explosions loom closer, civilians within Mariupol and eastern Ukraine rush to leave their homes in hope of safer grounds. Reports of intense shelling in Eastern Ukraine were flooding in, and the entire airspace of Ukraine was shut down.
At 1:00 A.M. on Thursday, a mere hour after Vassibly’s words, The Ukrainian Border Guard Service announced that not only were Russian soldiers invading from Russia, but attacking from Belarus as well. In response, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, declared a 30 day period of martial law. As the first night of fighting came to a close, President Zelenskyy made a public offer from the government, saying they would supply weapons to any civilian who wanted to fight. In just four hours, history began to repeat itself as the worst attack in Europe since World War II took form.
Swift Geopolitical Response
As time passes and the condition of the Ukrainian people worsens, the world is taking steps to put pressure on Putin to bring an end to the fighting. Although the Foreign Minister of Russia insists “nobody is going to attack the people of Ukraine”, and assures that there have not and will not be “strikes on civilian infrastructure or the personnel of the Ukrainian army”, the civilian death toll steadily rises along with reports of Ukrainian military bunkers and civilian apartment buildings being targeted for shelling attacks. If first-hand accounts of these tragedies or images of people huddling together, taking shelter in designated stations aren’t enough to dispute these claims, President Zelenskyy publicly accused the Russian military of attacking “kindergartens and civilian infrastructure.”
In response to the aggression that the Russian military is attacking with, multiple countries around the world took to placing sanctions on the country and its leaders. Some are taking more drastic measures, such as the Federated States of Micronesia who have severed their diplomatic ties with Russia in protest of the invasion of Ukraine. Even the Taliban is calling for Russia to rush towards a resolution to the war through “dialogue and peaceful means”.
In addition to the sanctions, funding for the Ukrainian military has been agreed upon by many countries around the world. While Putin continues to insist that there is “no other way to defend Russia other than by invading Ukraine,” the world sees the historic first activation of the NATO Response Force who are ready to deploy if there seems to be a need to get involved with ground action for the defense of NATO countries. As of Friday night, the United States offered to extract the President of Ukraine, but Zelenskyy respectfully declined the offer and chose to stay in Ukraine with his people.
The People’s Rise to Action
All over the world, people are stepping up and doing what they can to support the people of Ukraine. In the country itself, some citizens are stepping up, bearing arms, and defending their city alongside the military. Local media is advising civilians to prepare Molotov cocktails, and a brewery in Lviv, Ukraine switched their production to producing the explosives in mass.
In Russia, thousands of citizens took to the streets day after day across major cities in protest of the war they never asked to be a part of. Although the Kremlin has made it clear that the gatherings are deemed illegal without a permit due to their size and over 2,600 arrests have been made, the Russian citizens show persistence in making their opinion about this war known.
Meanwhile, all over the world people are doing whatever they feel will help to slow the progression of Russia’s advancement in Ukraine. Major soccer and NASCAR events have been pulled out of Russia where they were scheduled to be held and are relocating. The hit music competition Eurovision has banned Russia from competing this year, as well as many airlines ending partnerships with the Russian airline Aeroflot.
Actions are being taken against Russian propaganda on social media, with popular platforms doing what they can to ban Russian propaganda as well as YouTube demonetizing channels such as Russia Today. A well known hacker group, Anonymous, has declared an ongoing cyberwar on Russia until they pull back from Ukraine. So far these attacks have downed government websites, including that of the Kremlin, propaganda sites, successfully breached and leaked the database of the Russian Ministry of Defense website, and hacked Russian TV channels.
The tension continues to build in Europe as the world waits to see what will happen next. In the meantime, multiple countries will continue to put pressure on Russia in hopes to usher in the end of the invasion on Ukraine.