Updated: Mar 20
By: MIKHAIL KULINETS & OSCAR FOCK / NEWS CO-EDITORS
On Thursday, Feb. 24, just before 6 a.m. in New York, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had ordered what he called a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine.
However, the claim that the operation was limited to eastern Ukraine was refuted by Ukraine officials, as well as by reports of explosions near Kyiv and military activity in Odessa. On Twitter, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote that “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.
When America woke up Thursday morning, multiple attacks had been launched by Russian troops, from the north, south and east, in the first step of invading Ukraine.
After months of tensions and Russian military build-up along the Ukraine border, the brewing conflict reached a boiling point this week, as Putin and his aides ramped up their rhetoric against Ukraine and the West.
In a speech on Monday, Feb. 21, Putin declared that he would recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as autonomous — something that many saw as the final move
And then, early Thursday morning, Russia began its multi-pronged assault. Air raid sirens have rung through many Ukrainian cities today, including Kyiv, the capital, and Lyiv in western Ukraine, forcing citizens to seek shelter in subway stations and basements. At least 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed so far in skirmishes across the country.
The news of the invasion was met, as expected, with anger from world leaders, as well as with a host of new sanctions from the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
Updates on the development in Ukraine are coming in every minute.
While fighting began in Donetsk, Lugansk, more Russian troops are continuing to emerge, pushing inward every day. Meanwhile Ukrainian refugees are leaving their homes, fleeing to the West to try to cross the border to Poland.
Other countries accepting refugees besides Poland include Moldova, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia.
Putin’s tyranny is also causing thousands of Russians are leaving the country, where costs of living are dramatically escalating every day and international products disappear from the market’s shelves.
While Ukrainians and Russians are unable to seek refuge in the U.S., Ukrainian and Russian diasporas in America have been raising funds to assist their counterparts in their home countries.
As of writing this, more than 500 people have died in Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. The most disastrous regions within Ukraine are Kharkiv, Zhytomyr Oblast, and Mariupol in the south.
On March 8, Zhytomyr Oblast in Northern Ukraine was attacked by airstrike; 7 houses were destroyed and 5 people died, 2 kids included. Several factories and dormitories were also damaged by rockets in Zhytomyr.
Recently, President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, asked for a declaration of a no-fly zone.
For weeks people have been hiding in subway stations with their families, but some stations are now completely packed, while others still have room and accept people who couldn’t escape their homes at the time.
Odessa, a Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea, is large target for Russia to cut Ukraine off from outside world.
In anticipation of an attack here, civilians are ready, patrolling every corner, blocking the roads, and producing Molotov cocktails to throw at Russian tanks — a defensive strategy that has proved somewhat effective within the past weeks.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is complex, and holds both historical, cultural and geopolitical roots. Seawanhaka News Co-Editor and Russian native Mikhail Kulinets explains some of what’s behind the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II:
It is hard to fully understand long-term relations between Ukraine and Russia unless you live in the context but believe me, they were never easy.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine claimed its independence the same year, which led to decades of conflicts and arguments on a variety of topics: gas prices, borders and territories, as well as the European Union itself and its influences.
This war did not come out of nowhere, but is rather yet another consequence of shaky post-Soviet relationships.
Russian troops have been in Donbas in eastern Ukraine for several years; there is a constant war going on, which just now received an international spotlight.
Five years ago, when I still lived in Russia, friends of mine were sent to Donbas. Then, my family received a message that one of the men my mom worked with was shot dead in Lugansk. And I can only imagine that many Ukrainians receive the same messages — it’s all heartbreaking.
The Republic of Crimea was invaded and taken all in a day in 2014. Then, a referendum was held, with the help of Russian soldiers carrying AK-47 rifles, and Crimea became Russian. This conflict had severe negative consequences for the relationship between the government in Ukraine and the Kremlin.
For years, the Russian government has denied its participation and labeled the war on Donbas a “civil war in Ukraine.” The world knows the truth and what is happening now is outrageous, but expected.
Despite the years that have passed since Ukraine became independent, the problems remain the same: territories, oil, and political allies. Even a slight thought of Ukraine joining NATO makes the Kremlin nervous. Putin has continued to stress that NATO’s expansion to the east, as well as its attempts to include post-Soviet countries, is internationally dangerous.
Right now, it all comes down to actions and consequences. Russia’s invasion may result in other European conflicts, and the consequences it will have on the global economy are far-reaching.
But more importantly and most devastating of all, this invasion will take many lives, both Russian and Ukrainian.