Russia vs Ukraine: Why Russia invaded Ukraine

Photo courtesy of Mhawk10, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By Diana Arutyunyan

It’s been more than three weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin began the invasion by announcing that Russia recognizes the independence of two pro-Russian breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine. A few days later Putin announced that he had made the decision to launch a “special military operation” and invaded Ukraine.

People might wonder why Putin would do so, and there are a few reasons.

The first reason, and maybe the most important one, is that the Kremlin does not recognize the independence of Ukraine. Putin often talks about the Middle Ages, when parts of present-day Ukraine and Russia were part of Kievan Rus. He rarely talks about how different two nations are: their language, culture, traditions, lifestyle, etc. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, political life also became a difference between the two.

This is not the first conflict between the two nations. In 2008, at the NATO summit in Bucharest, U.S. President George W. Bush tried to get Ukraine and Georgia to receive an Action Plan to prepare for membership in the alliance. 

Putin was against it. He has made it clear that Russia does not fully recognize Ukraine’s independence. Both Ukraine and Georgia were promised NATO membership, but with no official date.

Later, Ukraine headed for economic integration through an association agreement with the European Union. As a response to this, Putin put economic pressure on Ukraine. Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych followed Putin’s plan but was driven out by the Ukrainian people.

In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. This became a turning point for the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. Donetsk and Luhansk were proclaimed “People’s Republics.” This led to the war in Donetsk and Luhansk. In 2021, Russia twice pulled troops to the borders of Ukraine. 

On February 21, Putin recognized the independence of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” and on February 24 he announced the start of a “special military operation” against Ukraine.

Ukrainians fully stood up for their country and freedoms. Civilian people are hiding in bunkers, some others are trying to run away, while still others stayed to fight. 

While Russia keeps attacking Ukraine and its people, President Volodymyr Zelensky, despite the desire to fight to the end for freedom, asked for the negotiations. Zelensky said that he is ready to find some compromises with Russia to stop the war. 

When Zelensky was asked if he was ready to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, and the republics of Donbas as independent states, Zelensky replied: “The question is not what I can do. In any dialogue, my goal is to end the war with Russia,” according to the BBC.