Russian Forces Invade Ukraine Early Thursday Morning

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Jonathan Fernandes, News Editor

Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine around 5 a.m.  on Feb. 24.  This marks the biggest attack by one state upon another since World War II.  Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion with an attack by land, sea, and air.  President Zelensky of Ukraine has implemented martial law and closed air space, saying Ukraine will defend itself.  Ukraine’s president has offered to arm the populace to aid the fight against Russia.  Social media is rife with videos of chaotic gunfights and helicopters flying overhead.  Reports say dozens of Ukrainian soldiers died in the initial assault and the fighting continues to rage along the border.  President Biden’s full statement was released in which he condemned the attack and promised a decisive response by the US and NATO allies. 

 

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been mounting for weeks and with a large-scale Russian invasion finally under way, here is the timeline of events leading up to this conflict:

 

In Feb. 2014, Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych who was sympathetic to Russian interests.  A small-scale revolution saw more than 100 killed and a government put into power that immediately signed trade agreements with the European Union.  Ukraine veered away from Russian influence in a more pro-Western direction.  Two months later, Russia responded by invading and annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.  After this, two regions of Ukraine broke off to form their own republics: Donetsk and Luhansk.  A period of war in the Donbas, the eastern part of Ukraine, followed in which over 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians died from the fighting.  The war never goes anywhere and in 2014, the Minsk Accords were signed by Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany.  A cease-fire was called, ending the conflict.  Then, in April 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine with a staple of his campaign being a promise to return the Donbas to Ukrainian control.  

 

Now, in the beginning of 2022, President Putin of Russia is attempting to revert Ukraine’s pro-Western progress with a full-scale invasion.  Seeking to not only deny Ukraine access to NATO, but to rejoin them with Russia, Putin has chosen war to accomplish this.  Using the break-away states of Donetsk and Luhansk as justification, Russia refuses to acknowledge the sovereignty of Ukraine.  Using these states as a pretense, Putin has indicated Russia must invade to protect the peoples of Donetsk and Luhansk from “genocide”.  Putin then followed this by threatening “consequences that you have never experienced in your history”. 

 

The United States and NATO allies have pledged to enforce heavy economic sanctions on Russia as a result of their premeditated invasion.  President Biden has made his position clear on Russian aggression in regards to Ukraine, promising strict sanctions that would effectively cut Russia off from Western financing and resources.  President Biden and NATO allies have also promised US military support to Ukraine. 

 

President Biden’s full statement:

 

“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.

 

“I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team. Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. We will also coordinate with our NATO allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the alliance.

 

“Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine.”