Russia-Ukraine war: On February 24, 2022, the temperature was around 20 degrees below freezing point when millions of Ukrainians woke up with sirens of perilous emergency. Although the citizens were acquainted with Russia’s ill intentions, they were oblivious that a topsy-turvy journey had been waiting for them.
Barely a few minutes after a chaotic sunrise, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on television screens with a chilling announcement that he dubbed a “special military operation”. Putin opined that he had “left with no other option” except of launching a full-fledged war against its neighbouring nation. The acknowledgement came nearly a month after the West intelligence had ascertained Putin’s intention after he started amassing Russian forces and battle tanks near border regions.
During his 30-minute long speech, the Russian President cited two reasons for his vicious action– Ukraine’s willingness to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)– an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member states – 28 European and two North American nations. And the other was– Ukraine’s alleged atrocities on Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
The man of hopes– Zelenskyy
Although it was clear that the way ahead for Ukraine would not be a ‘bed of roses’, it was highly anticipated that its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would flee the country, leaving his countrymen in tumultuous circumstances amid the fact the United States ensured a safe passage for him.
Instead, the actor-turned President filmed a rebellious video of himself on a darkened street outside the presidential offices with his four closest aides arrayed behind him. “We are all here,” said the 45-year-old leader, in a declaration of their determination to stay in Kyiv and defend their independence.
Subsequently, in order to guard the sovereignty of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy signed a decree on the general mobilization of the population– means men between the ages of 18-60 were prohibited from leaving the country. Within hours, the country witnessed a huge line of vehicles where desperate citizens waited for more than 48 hours to cross the borders.
How it started
At first, Putin launched an offensive near border regions and eventually headed towards Ukraine’s national capital Kyiv. However, amid international condemnation of executing war crimesthe aggressor took a u-turn and left the national capital. Also, the Russian forces seized the Chornobyl site– a nuclear site where more than 100 people were killed in a disaster in 1986. This attracted international condemnation worldwide and nuclear watchdog forewarned of potential repercussions.
In the meantime, Ukranian forces executed a significant setback for Russia after they sank the Moskva– Russia’s Black Sea fleet flagship. In May, the war-torn country lost its strategic port city– Mariupol and later Russia captured Lyman, an important transit hub in the east. In June, Russian forces capture the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk after heavy fighting.
Until this time, the repercussions were felt in almost every corner of the world, especially African nations which were still highly dependent on Ukranian grains to feed their already malnourished children and women. Later, the United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal which eventually eased the food supply.
Subsequently, between July to October, President Putin escalated the war and captured several regions including Severodonetsk after Ukranian forces allegedly blew up a portion of the Crimean bridge. Also, it held referendums in four occupied regions– Kherson, Luhansk Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk– and declared all areas voted in favour of the Kremlin. In November, Ukranian forces claimed they had pushed Russians out of Kherson and back across the Dnieper River that bifurcates the country.
Call for weapons
In December last year, President Zelenskyy visited the United States– for the first time, he moved out of Ukraine ever since Putin ravaged the brutal war. During his entire speech, he urged Congress to provide fierce weapons in order to shatter the desires of Russian forces. Later, he landed in the United Kingdom and urged the House of Commons to pace up the military aid. It is worth mentioning ever since the war escalated, he appeared in the Parliament of several countries via video conferencing, where he echoed for continuous military support.
It is obvious that war always comes with a huge price to human lives. According to the latest UN human rights office (OHCHR) data, at least 8,000 non-combatants have been confirmed killed – with more than 13,300 injured. When Russian troops retreated at the end of March, they left behind a trail of more than 1,200 bodies. The neighbouring regions of the national capital– Bucha and Irpin witnessed mass killings where more than 458 bodies were found in one place.
The human rights group underscored that the actual number must be substantially higher– a hard truth that the group reiterated every time it publishes human toll.
The day Russia declared the so-called “special military operations”, hundreds of multinational companies imposed or suspended their operations or moved their factories out of the country. This not only led to a major setback for the Russian economy but also affected the global economy. Even the US and several European countries including the UK are currently facing the wrath of energy sanctions imposed by the European Union on Moscow.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed growth expectations for this year and 2022, equivalent to $1 trillion in lost production. Spiking inflation means households across developed countries have lost income while coping with higher bills and loan payments. Moreover, poorer countries which have been already facing severe food prices hit even harder, adding to the disruption caused by the pandemic, and halting global progress in lifting millions out of poverty.
The way ahead
With no sign of peace in sight, Ukraine and Russia are emerging from a winter stalemate determined to fight for strategic goals that are in lethal contrast. Ukraine wants to push Russia back to its internationally recognized borders, its motivated forces now equipped with more powerful offensive weapons arriving from the West. A renowned international strategic expert, during a television debate, argued that the war would not end until one side gains enough leverage to impose terms in negotiations.