Context for War in Ukraine

On February 24, the border between Russia and Ukraine was filled with the sounds of explosions. Russia invaded Ukraine with missiles and soldiers, causing more than 14,000 deaths. Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? There are some historical and geological reasons that caused conflict between the two countries.

In order to understand why the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is bad, we have to know the geography and history of the conflict. Before 1991, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. However, it gained its independence on August 24, 1991. Afterwards, Ukraine wanted to join NATO and the Western Alliance. But, Russia did not like it. If Ukraine joined NATO, they would have an enemy right at their border. In 2013, Russia pressed Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, not to sign a deal with the European Union, prompting protests that ultimately ousted the Ukrainian in February 2014. Later on, Russia retaliated in 2014 by seizing Ukraine’s southern region of Crimea.

When Ukraine was separated from the Soviet Union, Crimeea wanted to gain its independence from both Russia and Ukraine. Crimea was very important for both the countries because of its strategic location. But, it was especially important for Russia because the Crimean peninsula is Russia’s only access to the Mediterranean sea.

However, the citizens of Crimea wanted to have independence. Later on, there was an attack on Crimea by undeclared forces who had many weapons that Russia had. Russia denied claims that these were Russian soldiers. Crimea’s president wanted Crimea to be annexed by Russia, but its citizens protested. So, they had vote on Russian annexation. The result was that 96% of the citizens wanted to be annexed by Russia.

Although Russia did not want Ukraine to join NATO and side with the Western Countries, Ukraine wanted to join NATO. So Russia sent 50% of its soldiers to the border between Ukraine and Russia. This enlarged the conflict between the countries.

There was a ceasefire, and a 2015 Minsk peace deal that was never implemented. Just before his invasion, President Putin tore up the peace agreement and recognized two Russian-backed statelets as independent from Ukraine.

By. Yoonoh Noh