A Breakdown of the Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine 


Olivia Giangeruso

What Happened: On February 24, 2022, Russia made the decision to militarily invade Ukraine. Since then, there have been countless Ukrainian civilian deaths at the hands of the Russian military, and over three million people have been forced to flee their homes in fear of what lies ahead. This dangerous crisis is ongoing, and with each day brings more headlines about the next attack, the most recent deaths, or pleas for the Ukrainian people themselves for Russia to stop invading their homes and destroying their livelihoods. 

Who’s in Charge: 

Russian president Vladimir Putin is at the forefront of this war, and it was his decision to invade an independent country for personal benefit. He was in office as president from 2000-2008 when Russia limited presidential terms to eight years in total. During this time Putin continued to hold onto power in the Russian government as prime minister up until 2012, when he once again ran for president and has been in office ever since. He continues to sign amendments to lengthen the amount of terms a Russian president can serve, so for now he will continue to lead the country.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, has been in office since 2019. Previous to his political career, Zelenskyy was a comedian and actor. Despite him being new to the political world, he has held strong as his country is invaded, and has continued to lead his country from bomb shelters in various parts of Ukraine. Zelenskyy has shown no fear during this terrifying ordeal, and has proven to be a source of strength for his citizens. 

Why did Putin invade: Putin justifies his actions by calling the conflict special military operations rather than an invasion or full scale war. The Russian leader claims that the people of Ukraine are suffering from persecution and genocide under the leadership of the Ukrainian government. He also accused the Ukrainian president and his government of being in need of de-nazification, an absurdly false claim to make as the current leader of Ukraine is jewish, and had family members that were in the Holocaust. Putin’s final claim is that Russia feels threatened by Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, an international military alliance of thirty countries worldwide. Ultimately, Vladimir Putin’s reasoning for his military invasion in Ukraine does not justify the humanitarian atrocities that he has committed against the millions of Ukrainian citizens.   

The Damage: The bombings of Ukrainian cities and the displacement of citizens is ongoing. An official count of casualties is hard to come by due to the debris and so many being trapped under fallen structures. What is known is that countless Ukrainian citizens, many of whom are children, and Ukrainian military members have died or been injured as a result of Russian hostility. Some parts of Ukraine are now in need of humanitarian aid as they run out of food, water, and electricity. The situation gets worse as the days go on as the Russians continue to invade. The Ukrainian military has been successful so far in keeping control of the capital city of Kyiv and stalling the incoming Russian troops, but it is not easy to predict what will happen next. 

UPDATE: 3 months in 

Since the start of the conflict, it’s looking more likely that there will be a stalemate, as both Russia and Ukraine forces are constantly switching between the offensive and defensive. Ukrainian forces have held their ground for the most part over the last three months, and in some regions have successfully forced Russian forces out of areas they had previously taken over.

More than 6 million Ukrainians have left the country because of the conflict. Regions like Maripol and the Donbas Region have been bombarded by explosions and physical combat from Russian forces, as these once prosperous and livable regions have been turned to rubble and ashes. 

There have been multiple accounts of torment and abuses from Russian soldiers towards Ukrainian citizens. This month, a 21 year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to shooting an unarmed 62 year-old Russian citizen in the head in the beginning of Russia’s military siege of Ukraine. 

As Russia continues to torment and terrorize Ukrainian cities, towns, and citizens, there have been many mass graves discovered, containing the bodies of Ukrainian citizens. Officials say that the mass graves discovered in the city of Bucha and outside of Maripol are proof that numerous war crimes have occured on the behalf of Russian forces. 

One of the “reasons” Vladimir Putin has expressed as reasoning for sending military forces into Ukraine is their desire to one day join NATO, a military alliance between 30 countries. Now, Switzerland and Finland (who shares a border with Russia) have expressed their interest in joining NATO since Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. It will not be an easy process to admit both countries, and it is up in the air as to what will happen in the future with regards to countries expressing interest in joining NATO.