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Putin Invades its Small Neighbor, is Ukraine really a threat to Russia?

Reading about the devastation and atrocities caused by wars has always stunned us, and made us question why as human beings we can cause harm to who knows how many thousands of lives. Warmongers always won as they were the ones puppeteering the soldiers to put their lives on the front lines for ‘their’ cause. Somewhere, reading these in the history books filled us with the notion that people are not thinking that way anymore. We now realize the futility of wars and the destructive after-effects it leaves that takes a couple of generation to overcome. But in the light of the recent events, we can claim that people have not learned from the mistakes of our ancestors.

Of late, Ukraine and Russia, the two countries bordering each other in Eastern Europe, seem to grow immense tension between them. And on February 24, 2022, Russia sent its army into Ukraine and initiated invading the country to take over by force. People tagging it as World War III. Since this is the biggest war Europe has ever seen since the Second World War. Attempting to justify the invasion, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, states that the modern, leaning toward west Ukraine was a threat for which his country, Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist”.

But since the invasion of thousands of militants into the country, destruction of hundreds of homes, thousands of lives lost, and millions evading their homes to other “safer” places, we are left with the doubt: Was his fearful opinion on Ukraine worth the atrocity? 

What does Putin have in mind?

It was speculated that the Russian leader aspired to overrun Ukraine to depose its government so that its wish to join NATO remains a dream. When he failed to seize the capital Kyiv and after months of setbacks, he charges forward with full force.

His goal to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine” began on February 24 so that he could protect his people from what he has stated as “8 years of bullying and genocide” by the government of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov speaks of liberating Ukraine from oppression, standing with the notion that the country should be allowed to make its decisions. The democratically elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has said, “the enemy has designated me as target number one, and my family is target number two”.

On the other end of the loaded guns and tanks, Putin denies calling it an invasion or a war. He has a customized word for it, “special military operation” on its neighbor country. The narrative of Ukraine housing Nazis and genocide is an age-old notion reiterated by Russia consistently which is completely unfounded. Moreover, the accusations from Moscow claimed that Ukraine has a plutonium-based bomb to overpower Russia.

But now the tables have turned of making accusations as Russia continues its atrocities in the name of “fearful demeanor”. ‘A genocide’, that’s what the Us and Canada have begun calling it.

This is a crucial moment in the history of mankind as it can pivot the world’s perception of Russia and its place in the world. After nearly two months of destruction on a mass scale and losing thousands of lives to Putin’s cause, he states that it is not his plan to occupy Ukraine. He does not have any intention to impose anything on anyone by force. 

A brief history of Russia and Ukraine’s bad blood

The invasion at the end of February took many people by surprise since it was after a few decades that anyone has mentioned “ongoing war”. But difficulties in the relationship between Russia and Ukraine remain intact for centuries. The total understanding of the situation can be done by looking at 1,300 years of history.

The roots of both the countries initiate from the same medieval kingdom called Kyivan Rus. It was founded by a group of Vikings, the Varangians in the 800s. The people inhibiting Kyivan Rus are known as Slavs, ancestors of both Russia and Ukraine. The capital of the place was the city of Kyiv, which is the same Kyiv that is the capital of Ukraine.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia and Ukraine became independent countries. Now we come to the year 2013 when Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine at the time wanted the country to be loyal to Russia. This made him not sign a trading agreement between Europe and Ukraine. This backlashed the president as the Ukrainians protested. Yanukovych was kicked out of his office, and then elected a government that favored Europe and not Russia.

Now in 2014, Russia took over an area in southern Ukraine which is known as Crimea. Russia also sent weapons and soldiers to eastern Ukraine, claiming to assist people who wanted to be part of Russia. Since then, more than 14,000 people have died and around a million people have fled the place to avoid fighting. 

The status quo of the Russia and Ukraine war

In February 2022, Putin again claimed that Ukrainians and Russians are one people. He sees Ukrainians and Russians as brother nations and says that because Russia is the older brother, it should get to be in charge. Claiming that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, Putin in the month of February of 2022 stated that Russia is the older brother and it should take charge (or in Putin’s words, take “care”) of Ukraine.

To this bold statement of Putin, most citizens of Ukraine openly disagreed. Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that he wants peace to prevail yet if required they will defend the independence of the country.

Russians had no say about the invasion. Many are seen protesting against it. Many families have members from both countries because of which numerous people on both sides of the border are against fighting each other. 

The United States and other countries enraged at Putin

The United States and most of the countries of Europe are on Ukraine’s side. Their belief resides in the notion that one country should be permitted to decide its future.

Over time as Russia grew more assertive and stronger in terms of military power, its worries about NATO have increased. And at the beginning of December 2021, President Biden stated that he was not sending troops to Ukraine for fighting as the country is still not a member of the NATO alliance which is why it doesn’t fall under its commitment to collective defense in unfortunate times.

However, the US has sent antiaircraft and antitank weapons to the country, ordered an additional 7000 troops to Europe, and raised the American military presence in NATO countries that border Russia.

Meanwhile, the following countries are on Russia’s side, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Cuba. 

India’s stance on the Russia and Ukraine War

As of now, India’s stance remains neutral on the Russia and Ukraine War. But recently the Russian invasion hit India closer to home when the killing of an Indian student in Ukraine’s Kharkiv city was aired, and hundreds of Indian students in Ukraine, are still awaiting evacuation. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under pressure to condemn the actions of Russia.

 “The Government of India should stop its verbal balancing act and sternly demand that Russia stop immediately the bombing of key cities in Ukraine.” Tweeted last week by P Chidambaram, an Indian parliamentarian from the opposition Congress party.

Meanwhile, PM Modi has held conversations with both Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy and called for ceasing the violence immediately.

However, Russia’s atrocious actions have not been condemned by the nation 5 times so far stating that a “commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, to international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states”.

India’s stance toward Russia in the Ukraine war is not something surprising or new. Even when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, India was neutral at the United Nations.

Michael Kugelman, senior fellow for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, states that India has a special relationship with Russia that restricts India to condemn any action of the country.

“New Delhi has long viewed Moscow as its most reliable and trusted partner, a perception shaped by many decades of friendship, going back to the early years of the Cold War.” 

What is the latest on Ukraine’s defense against Russia?

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night address to the nation on April 18 that Russia had begun a fresh offensive in the eastern Ukrainian area which is called Donbas, located in between Russia and Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. Russian forces have concentrated their troops and firepower in the region after failing to overthrow Zelensky’s government in Kyiv.

Officials of the country have begun strongly urging residents to leave the front-line regions in the east where the bloodshed and devastation keep on increasing. On April 8, a Russian missile struck Kramatorsk’s train station killing over 52 people. Eminently, Russia denied the strike to kill innocent civilians, rather was targeting train stations to prevent the militants of Ukraine to move weapons and supplies to other regions. According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, more than 5 million people have left Ukraine in fear of the uncalled terror.

Social media has given a deep insight into the horror occurring in Ukraine as numerous courageous photographers share pictures of those who lost their homes, family members, and their lives. People are praying for this madness to stop, the people on social media strongly oppose the movements of Russia and condemn its action to overrun Ukraine. We can only hope this madness ceases soon and peace restores the world again.

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