Conflict in Europe: Russia invades Ukraine

design and illustration: Makenna Shrager

Tensions are high between Russia and Ukraine as their relationship keeps growing sour. With the events continuing to develop, the future actions of these countries are unpredictable.

Ukraine used to be a part of the Soviet Union until it fell in 1991, becoming an independent country. Russia wants to hold control over Ukraine, which is causing high levels of tension between the two nations. Ukraine wants to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, but Russia doesn’t want a NATO neighboring country. Specifically, Russian President Vladimir Putin is strongly against the expansion of NATO, according to multiple news sources.

“Putin wants to have a protective buffer or bubble around Russia,” Government Teacher John Carmicahel said. “So, he wants to go to Ukraine and take over, and when he’s done there, he’s probably going to move north to Belarus, which is the country right above it. He could start adding more buffers.”

Putin is an authoritarian dictator and rose to power after the president before him unexpectedly resigned. He was elected as president in 2000, meaning that he has been in power for 22 years now. He wants to stop the spreading of democracies around the world and NATO.

“Putin is a power-hungry dictator who wants to rebuild the USSR, not necessarily as a communist regime per say, but he wants to reclaim former lands that were part of the USSR,” AP World History Teacher Jamie Paoloni said.

On Feb. 24, Russia began invading Ukraine declaring war. Russia has struck multiple cities in Ukraine, including its capital city Kyiv. These strikes are causing many Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries.

“Ukraine just wants to be left alone,” Carmichael said. “They’re sovereign; they want Russia to leave them alone.”

On Feb. 28, Russian and Ukrainian delegates met on the border of Ukraine and Belarus to discuss the situation. It hasn’t stopped the fighting though. 

Due to the fact that Ukraine isn’t a part of NATO, it is why other nations aren’t joining in to fight against Russia physically. If Putin did go and invade a NATO nation, that’s when other nations fighting, and a potential world war, would start.

“NATO is a group that joins together by treaty. They say ‘if you’re attacked I’m going to defend you’ and vice versa ‘you’ll come to defend me if we’re attacked’, but the problem is Ukraine is not in NATO,” Carmichael said.

The high tension between Russia and Ukraine will affect other nations and the whole world as well.

“Right now, China is just sitting there watching, and if the world doesn’t do anything, they’re going to go into Taiwan and take that over,” Carmichael said. “The world is watching. On top of that, if no one stands up to Putin, he’s going to keep doing it in Eastern Europe, so that’s going to have a huge impact on other countries.”

To support Ukraine, the United States is sending Ukraine aid packages that will include billions of dollars worth of items to protect Ukraine including security, weapons and humanitarian assistance. The United States has also now laid down sanctions on Russia, impacting trade and damaging Russia’s economy.

“This event is a clear indicator as to the aggression of Putin. In the past, actions like Putin’s generally escalated into war, but at this point, it is hard to say,” Paoloni said.