PHOTO COURTESY OF VADIM GHIRDA As the ongoing war increases the death toll from both countries, more military forces appear on Ukraine's battle fields. Many more Ukrainian civilians flee their homes in seek of shelter.

Russia-Ukraine war overview

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On Aug. 24, 1991, Ukraine’s parliament parted from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) after stating that it will not comply with the laws of the union. Eventually, Ukraine was able to gain its independence before the USSR collapsed in December 1991.

For the last 21 years, Vladimir Putin has been president of Russia where he has publicly expressed his ambition of restoring the Soviet Union. He believes that Ukraine has never officially declared statehood when seceded from the Soviet Union, making Ukraine a critical country to take back to accomplish Putin’s goal. Tension skyrocketed between the two countries as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of an impending war in January 2022. Ukrainian citizens united in early January, preparing for a conflict. Many civilians volunteered in preparation. Weekend training to join the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces was led by active military members. The training included learning how to load and fire weapons and avoiding gunfire from enemies. Evacuation began as President Zelenskyy declared a state of emergency on Feb. 23.

President Putin announced a “special military operation” on Ukraine on Feb. 24, becoming what is now known as the Russia-Ukraine war. Ukrainian citizens began to seek safe shelters and leave their homes to flee to neighboring countries such as Poland. The Russian forces have, to date, approximately 10,000 troops in Ukrainian territory. The country’s capital, Kyiv, was heavily guarded as the Russian military forces approached. Now the forces have surrounded  the capital

Sanctions from nations around the world have been imposed on Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has said that it will not involve itself in the conflict unless its member countries are attacked. Protests worldwide have demonstrated their disapproval of Russia’s assault on Ukraine including many thousands of Russian citizens who were arrested by police.

Former Ukrainian presidents, like Viktor Yushchenko, have shown interest in joining NATO and applied to the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008. However, many nations were against Ukraine joining the organization due to Ukraine not being a completely democratic country. On Feb. 24, Zelenskyy requested to have a “no-fly zone” around Ukraine to NATO. The request was declined as NATO officials did not want to take part in any part of the war.

According to recent updates on the 26th day of the war, there are close to 1,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine and an estimate of 7,000 Russian troops killed. 3.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country. Destruction of infrastructure has led to over $100 billion in property damage.

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