Emilio Morenatti, AP
Over the course of the last few months, there has been much discussion over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send hundreds of thousands of troops to its border with Ukraine. The international community has since been worried of a possible invasion by Russian military forces and pro-Moscow separatists forces, who have been inside Ukraine since 2014. The estimated number of soldiers going into the country is around 190,000. On the night of February 23 – morning of February 24 Ukrainian time – Putin gave the order to attack.
His decision has received strong condemnation from world leaders such as President Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz and the governments of many other NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries. They urged the strongest possible sanctions against the Kremlin for what they consider a violation of international law and an illegal invasion of an independent country.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, in an emotional address to the nation before the attack, pledged that the people of Ukraine will defend their country from an invasion at all costs.
“We know for sure we do not need a war – not a cold one, not a hot one, not a hybrid one,” Zelenksy says. “But if these forces attack us, if you attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Not attack – defend. And in attacking, you are going to see our faces.”
This is not the first time that the Russian president has meddled in domestic affairs of the former-Soviet state. In February and March 2014, he ordered security forces to invade Crimea, a peninsula still considered part of Ukraine by many countries, and claimed this section of the country as Russian territory.
As of February 24, Russian troops have seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s deadliest nuclear disaster that occured in 1986. The same day President Zelensky has banned Ukrainian men 18-60 years of age from leaving the country, the reason is most likely because of the need for more firepower from Ukrainian forces against Russia.
Russian troops are also quickly approaching the capital city of Kiev.
The war in Ukraine has also triggered a refugee exodus with most Ukrainian migrants making their way to neighboring countries such as Poland and Moldova. The White House stated it’s ready to receive Ukrainians fleeing the country. The estimated number who have fled is already over 50,000 in the first 48 hours since the start of the invasion on Wednesday.