The world woke up to the sound of explosions as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special’ military operation in Ukraine. The move prompted outrage from the international community, especially the US and the West.
Putin justified his actions, claiming that it was a response to threats coming from Ukraine. He called upon the Ukrainian armed forces to defy “the orders of the Nazi Junta in Kyiv” and go home. Russia’s actions, Putin said, were aimed at the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, quote: “We decided to launch a special military action aimed at demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”
Russia Ukraine Crisis
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, vehemently rejected Putin’s accusations while addressing the nation. “You are being told we are Nazis. How can a nation that gave 8 million lives to combat Nazism support it? How can I be a Nazi? Tell my grandpa about that,” he stated.
Within hours of the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announcing that Russia would invade Ukraine, explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Mariupol.
Moscow had earlier stated that separatists in eastern Ukraine had requested aid in repelling Ukrainian “aggression”. Russian troops had been dispatched as ‘peacekeepers’ by Putin before it turned into a full-scale military operation.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, appealed to the Russian President to call back his troops in the name of humanity. He requested Putin to refrain from using military action in the face of escalating tensions between the two countries. “If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart. President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died,” he pleaded.
US President Joe Biden labelled Russia’s actions as “unprovoked and unjustified” and that the world would “hold Russia accountable”. However, it is not clear if Biden would commit US troops to Ukraine’s aid even as most US military commentators described the situations as “not our fight”.
The EU was also critical of the attacks and its chief, Ursula von der Leyen, denounced Russia’s move, pledging to hold Russia “accountable”. Taking to Twitter, von der Leyen wrote, “We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives.”
It is said that the first casualty of war is truth, and the Ukraine-Russia conflict is a testament. Both sides have claimed to be on the right, accusing the other of unprovoked aggression among other things. Ukraine and Russia share a long, common history filled with jubilation and hardship, prosperity and poverty, friendship and enmity, all in equal parts. What the world is witnessing is the upwelling of years of repressed sentiments and rage all at once.