The worst has finally happened in the Russia-Ukraine conflict: Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to carry out his threat to strike Ukraine, sparking a wave of sanctions which were imposed on him by the international community.
Russia launched an offensive in the early hours of Thursday, 24 February 2022, not long after Putin declared war and vowed to retaliate against anyone intervening in their invasion. Air and missile strikes were launched in cities and military bases in Ukraine before tanks rolled in across the country’s border, following weeks of escalating tensions.
Putin’s Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the nation, in the wake of the attacks and revealed that at least 137 people had died on the first day.
WHY VLADIMIR PUTIN INVADED UKRAINE
There are various reasons as to which prompted such aggressive action towards Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. One of them is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) ties to Ukraine and moving eastward.
NATO has been expanding its Eastern European presence by adding countries like Lithuania and Estonia, something Putin takes issue with. He had sought a guarantee that Ukraine will not become a member in the future.
NATO is a defensive force, which has thrown its weight behind Ukraine, but is yet to make the country a member. Putin sees NATO’s expansion as an existential threat, and the prospect of Ukraine joining the Western military alliance a “hostile act.”
The aim of Ukraine joining the alliance would be to provide military backup
Another aspect is the fact that Putin has often stressed the cultural and historical ties between Russia and Ukraine, even referring to citizens in both countries as “one people.” This lends credence to the West’s claim that he is trying to seize control of the country.
However, Putin has constantly denied ever planning to occupy Ukraine and only wants to demilitarise the neighbouring country.