Russia's invasion of Ukraine (2022)

Article

May 28, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Russo-Ukrainian war (in Russia officially a "military special operation", Russian: специальная военная операция) - the invasion of Ukraine started on February 24, 2022 by the Russian Federation, constituting an escalation of the war that started in 2014. It was preceded by the Russian demand to exclude the possibility of further NATO enlargement and to reduce the alliance's military potential in Central and Eastern Europe to the state prior to 1997. Russia began to gather its troops along the border with Ukraine at the turn of October and November 2021. In February 2022, military exercises were conducted in Belarus together with the armed forces of that country, after which Russian troops did not return to Russia. On February 17, in the area of ​​the front with the separatist republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, the attacks that Russia had accused the Ukrainians of began to intensify. Subsequently, Russia made accusations: against the Ukrainians - of "genocide", and against the West - of "encouraging Kiev to engage in military aggression". On February 21, Russia recognized the independence of the "republics" which on February 23 asked for help in repelling the "aggression". On February 24, troops along the borders of Ukraine launched an attack. The first days of the conflict did not bring any spectacular success to the Russians, but they largely united Ukrainians in resistance to the invaders, and the public opinion of most countries in the world, governments and international organizations in protest against the invasion. Significant economic sanctions have been imposed on Russia, while Ukraine has received aid, including both humanitarian and military support.

Context

Ukraine's buffer role

From the point of view of the Russian authorities, Ukraine is viewed geostrategically as a buffer separating it from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Ukraine's demographic and economic potential also means that Russia has repeatedly attempted to include it in the Eurasian integration structures it controls. On the other hand, the possible success of Ukraine's democratic transformation through the adoption of European standards and political and economic integration with Western structures, according to Russia, poses a threat to both the security of the Russian Federation and the stability of the authoritarian regime that governs it. In 2014, Russia, in response to the overthrow of the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, led to the detachment of Crimea from Ukraine, and then to the armed secession of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, leading to the actual Russian-Ukrainian war in the east of the country. Paradoxically, from the point of view of Russian goals, this has led to the domination of anti-Russian sentiments among the Ukrainian population and to closer relations with the European Union and military cooperation with NATO. Its army, whose effectiveness was criticized in 2014, was reorganized, better trained with the help of NATO countries, and retrofitted with newer weapons, including those purchased in the West. It also increased the US military activity in the countries of NATO's eastern flank.

Russia's demands on NATO

Related to the Ukrainian-Russian crisis are Russia's demands, which demanded guarantees of not enlarging NATO and limiting its activity on its eastern flank. In the second half of 2021, the Russian authorities repeatedly stated in the media that Ukraine was directly controlled by Western countries and that NATO's military expansion on its territory was already underway, which poses a threat to the Russian Federation. In December 2021, Russia presented two draft treaties containing demands for what it called "security guarantees," including a legally binding promise that Ukraine would not join NATO, and a reduction of NATO troops and equipment.