Overview: What is happening between Ukraine and Russia?

A lot of information is flying around about Ukraine and Russia, and it might be hard to understand what is happening between the two countries. This article will outline the basics of the conflict and the events that have happened up until today (24/02/2022).

What is happening between Ukraine and Russia?

Ukraine used to be a part of the Soviet Union (USSR, 1922- 1991), and when it dissolved, Ukraine separated themselves and formed its own country. Now, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is arguing that the parts of Ukraine that border Russia should be a part of Russia. These two parts of Ukraine are the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic and are known as breakaway states.

A breakaway state is a state that has declared independence from the country they were originally a part of. They've formed their own government, but their original countries have yet to acknowledge their independence. In this case, the states are breakaway states because of pro-Russia separatists. So, Putin believes that Donetsk and Luhansk should be a part of Russia.

This conflict has been going on for the last ca. 7 years (since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula which used to be Ukraine’s). Now, Russia has invaded Ukraine it is reported that there have been explosions in parts of Kyiv, the capital of Russia where civilians have lost their lives.

What does this mean for the rest of the world?

There is not a simple answer to this. It’s a dangerous time for Ukraine’s citizens, where many will and have already died. Putin is not showing any signs of stopping, although hopefully he will. Countries that are members of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have not done a lot to help defend Ukraine (although the USA has deployed troops), because if one country actively did something, that would mean the rest of the members would have to as well, which could result in a great scale war (possibly nuclear war). In the next few days, as the situation escalates, they might. Despite not being a part of NATO, Ukraine is involved with them. In June 2020, Ukraine joined NATO's enhanced opportunity partner interoperability program. This means that NATO has a certain responsibility to help them in spite of the risk of war.

This, again, was a very basic explanation of the recent events and I encourage you to read further on this topic, and if you do so, make sure it is from reliable sources as there has been misinformation spread about this situation, especially on social media.