Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? What you should know



Europe is dealing with its best safety disaster in a long time after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. The battle is threatening to destabilize regional political and army alliances and sparking fears that U.S. troops might be drawn into the preventing.

What’s taking place in Ukraine?

Russia attacked Ukraine on Thursday, together with airstrikes and shelling, as civilians fled or sought shelter. Ukraine’s authorities stated Russian tanks and troops had crossed the border from the east, north and south in a “full-scale conflict.” Ukrainian authorities described floor invasions in a number of areas. Border guards launched footage displaying Russian army autos crossing into Ukraine’s government-held territory. European authorities declared the nation’s airspace an lively battle zone.

President Vladimir Putin proceeded with the assault regardless of condemnation and sanctions from the U.S. and different world powers, referring to Russia’s nuclear arsenal and threatening any nation that makes an attempt to intrude with “penalties you have got by no means seen.”

Russian forces seized the Chernobyl nuclear plant on Thursday, web site of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe in 1986, triggering fears of contamination. Ukrainian troops defended a strategic airport outdoors of the capital, Kyiv. Satellite tv for pc photographs from U.S.-based Planet present a darkish plume of smoke rising from Chuhuiv Air Base outdoors the northeastern metropolis of Kharkiv, which was reportedly struck by a missile.

Residents reported giant explosions in Kyiv and in different Ukrainian cities. Some fled to neighboring international locations by automobile, whereas others hid underground in practice stations.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lower diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial legislation on Thursday.

“As of at this time, our international locations are on totally different sides of world historical past,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “Russia has launched into a path of evil, however Ukraine is defending itself and received’t surrender its freedom.”

His adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stated: “A full-scale conflict in Europe has begun. … Russia just isn’t solely attacking Ukraine, however the guidelines of regular life within the trendy world.”

How has President Biden responded?

In a televised tackle Thursday, Biden imposed new sanctions on Russia and condemned Putin’s assault.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden stated. “Putin selected this conflict, and now he and his nation will bear the results.”

Beneath the newest sanctions the U.S. and its allies will block the belongings of 4 giant Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs. Biden additionally stated the U.S. will deploy added forces to Germany to help NATO.

The sanctions are designed to focus on Russia’s monetary system and industries depending on U.S. semiconductors and different high-tech provides.

Biden spoke from the White Home hours after holding a digital assembly with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan. Additionally in attendance had been European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and NATO Secretary Normal Jens Stoltenberg. Biden additionally met along with his nationwide safety workforce to debate the disaster.

Ukrainian officers responded to Biden’s tackle by calling for extra drastic motion, together with chopping Russians off from the SWIFT
monetary system.

“We demand the disconnection of Russia from SWIFT, the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine and different efficient steps to cease the aggressor,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated in a tweet.

The Biden administration has thus far refused to dam Russia from SWIFT, because of the potential spiraling financial affect on different international locations, together with Europe.

“It’s all the time an possibility, however proper now that’s not the place that the remainder of Europe needs to take,” Biden stated Thursday.

Biden famous the Russian inventory market and ruble had already plunged, and insisted the sanctions he’d introduced could be efficient, hobbling the Russian economic system and army. He stated he had “no plans” to talk with Putin.

How do the Russian and Ukrainian army examine?

The Russian army has way more troops, trendy tools and know-how than their Ukrainian counterparts: 280,000 common forces, plus allied separatist militias within the jap cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, in comparison with 145,000 Ukrainian troops, in keeping with the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research. Russia has thrice as many tanks as Ukraine, 4 occasions as many army preventing autos, however each side have a cadre of ballistic missiles.

What function will U.S. troops play?

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated U.S. troops is not going to combat in Ukraine or rescue Individuals trapped there, however Russia’s invasion is shaping as much as be the most important land conflict in Europe since World Battle II.

On Thursday, the Pentagon stated it was sending an extra 7,000 troops to Europe, deploying an armored brigade fight workforce to Germany to reassure NATO allies. The deployment brings the variety of U.S. troops ordered to Europe for the reason that Ukraine disaster started to 14,000; the variety of American troops in Europe to 100,000.

Most of the U.S. troopers deploying from Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Bragg, N.C. have been despatched to Poland to assist course of individuals fleeing Ukraine, an Military spokesman stated on Thursday. U.S. troops have been working with Polish forces to arrange three processing facilities close to the Ukrainian border to assist tens of 1000’s of individuals anticipated to flee, together with Individuals.

Ukraine has a inhabitants of about 43 million. U.S. officers speculated the Russian assault might kill tens of 1000’s and create as much as 5 million refugees, many in Poland, the biggest refugee resettlement in Europe since 2015.

The Pentagon has been repositioning forces in allied jap European international locations for weeks, shifting these already on the continent to former Soviet states. Biden stated earlier this week that he had approved transferring U.S. forces and tools already stationed in Europe to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – international locations lining Russia’s western border which are among the many 30 members of NATO.

Moscow has repeatedly sought to discourage Ukraine from turning into a NATO member in recent times to restrict Western affect within the area. In mild of the Russian assault, NATO has raised the readiness of its fast response pressure. Member international locations put troops on standby and deployed battalions, planes and ships to the area.

On Thursday, NATO’s secretary common, Jens Stoltenberg known as the assault a “grave breach of worldwide legislation, and a critical menace to Euro-Atlantic safety.”

What does Putin need?

“Ukraine isn’t just a neighboring nation for us. It’s an inalienable a part of our personal historical past, tradition and non secular house,” Putin stated in a televised speech Monday.

Ukraine is a former Soviet Union republic perched on the fringe of Europe. It turned unbiased after the Communist authorities collapsed in 1991. Ukraine is the biggest, most fertile, mineral-rich and strategically necessary. A Russian fuel pipeline crosses Ukraine to Europe, producing earnings for Moscow.

Putin stated in a televised speech Thursday that he considers the prospect of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO a “hostile act.”

He has additionally referred to Russians and Ukrainians as “one individuals,” suggesting Ukraine was a false Communist assemble that the West corrupted by way of a “pressured change of id.” Putin views Ukraine as a part of Russia: culturally, linguistically and politically. Whereas among the principally Russian-speaking inhabitants in Ukraine’s east sympathize, the Ukrainian audio system within the west traditionally sided with Europe.

This isn’t the primary time Putin has used army pressure to push again towards NATO growth and shield Russian financial pursuits within the area.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and — because it has in Ukraine — accused its forces of attacking pro-Russia breakaway enclaves like South Ossetia. France negotiated a cease-fire that ended most preventing, however Georgia didn’t regain the disputed territory.

In early 2014, mass protests within the capital pressured out a Russia-friendly president after he refused to signal an affiliation settlement with the European Union. Putin responded by annexing the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and fomenting a separatist insurrection in Ukraine’s east, which seized management of a part of the Donbas area.

Regardless of a ceasefire settlement the next 12 months, preventing has continued. Almost 14,000 individuals have died and 1.5 million have been displaced, in keeping with the Ukrainian authorities.

The most recent Russian assault got here days after Putin introduced that Moscow would formally acknowledge the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk Individuals’s Republics in jap Ukraine’s Donbas area, deploying Russian troops to areas that prolonged past these managed by pro-Russian separatists.

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