Russian Putin Ukraine War: 6 Things You Need to Know

Still on the Russian Putin Ukraine War, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been steadily increasing his country’s involvement in the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, including the recent deployment of Russian troops to fight Ukrainian separatists. The U.S., European Union, and United Nations have all decried Russia’s actions as a dangerous and potentially destabilizing incursion into eastern Ukraine, leading to a larger war between Russia and NATO-backed Ukraine.

Still, Putin has stated that he will not allow Western forces to stand in the way of his strategic interests in the region. Here are the key facts you need to know about this escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine.


Russian Putin Ukraine War: Timeline of Key Events

February 21, 2014:

More than 100 protesters were injured when security forces attacked a large crowd marching toward parliament in Kyiv during the Russian Putin Ukraine War. Some reports indicated that tear gas was used against demonstrators calling for President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster. Other reports suggest that police officers fired rubber bullets and water cannons into crowds. Later that evening, Yanukovych escaped over a wall and fled to eastern Ukraine. Protesters occupied his Kyiv mansion and parliament, government offices, and other public buildings in Kyiv.

Russian Putin Ukraine War

February 23, 2014:

Yanukovych resurfaced in southern Russia, giving a press conference. In it, he called for dialogue with opposition leaders and asked that anti-government protesters leave his mansion and parliament. February 24, 2014: Ukrainian protesters responded by setting up street blockades around government buildings and setting up camps outside of parliament. Tensions flared on both sides as government snipers fired on protesters while demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at police. The U.S., Germany, France, Great Britain, and other nations condemned Yanuokvych’s force against protesters, while officials from Russia blamed Western agents for inciting violence within Ukraine.

February 28, 2014:

Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered a nationwide anti-terrorist operation against pro-Russian groups that had seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine. Putin issued the orders following an attack by protesters on a police station in Kharkiv. March 1, 2014: In response to rising unrest in eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych signed a bill into law removing certain presidential powers and handing them over to parliament. March 2, 2014: Pro-Russian shooters stormed and seized government buildings in Slovyansk and other cities in eastern Ukraine. The shooters set up checkpoints around these cities.


Russian Putin Ukraine War: Who Is Involved?

The United States, European Union, and NATO have condemned Russia’s military incursion into Crimea. Meanwhile, world leaders have spoken out on both sides of the conflict, leading to several international disputes. Moscow claims that it is protecting Russian-speaking residents in Crimea from fascist Ukrainian nationalists in Kyiv—not invading the sovereign territory.

Some even argue that Putin is simply trying to distract his people from economic woes at home by starting a war abroad. However, Western powers charge that Russian aggression violates international law; they threaten further sanctions against Moscow if it does not withdraw troops from Ukraine by Monday. In response, Russia has sent more troops and weaponry into eastern Ukraine.

Additionally, despite Moscow’s assertions that Russia is not invading sovereign territory, some say Putin is on shaky legal ground. Some Ukrainian officials and analysts believe Putin’s actions violate an agreement between Russia and Ukraine from 1997 that allows Russia to have up to 25,000 troops in Crimea.


The Russian president also broke a pact he signed with other European leaders at a NATO summit in 2009 that stated NATO would not establish permanent bases in Eastern Europe—though it didn’t specifically address Russia’s presence in Crimea. He has ignored similar commitments made under two post-Soviet treaties from 1994 and 1997 that guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Furthermore, any military action taken by either side could constitute an armed conflict or war under international law.


Russian Putin Ukraine War: Who Are The Players?

As the Ukrainian crisis unravels, here are some facts you should know about Russia, Ukraine, and Putin. Russia is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe. Russia has its capital in Moscow, while Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. Russia used to be a single country with the Soviet Union until Putin broke it up in 1991. From 2000-to 2008, Vladimir Putin was prime minister, but since then, he has served as president of Russia.

Russian Putin Ukraine War: What Are Their Interests?:

Russia and Ukraine have long been rivals for centuries. Russia has long considered Ukraine part of its zone of influence and has tried everything from military intervention, economic aid, and trade deals with Kyiv. The Russian government had even backed opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich in the 2010 Ukrainian elections. On the other hand, Ukrainians wanted closer ties with Western Europe than with Russia since they felt that Putin was trying to exert more control over them.

Russian Putin Ukraine War: Why Is Russia Involved?:

Russia has denied claims that it sent its troops into Crimea, but everyone agrees that it supplies pro-Russian soldiers with weapons. They have been spotted wearing Russian military uniforms. Vladimir Putin said he had no plans to annex any part of Ukraine and considered Yanukovich, a legitimate leader. However, it is widely believed that Putin invaded Crimea to maintain his zone of influence over neighboring countries in eastern Europe and keep warm water ports on the Black Sea open for Russia.

Russian Putin Ukraine War: How Did We Get Here?

On February 22, 2014, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power. A week later, pro-Russian protests broke out in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Russia announced that it would take action to protect its ethnic kin in Ukraine from what Putin saw as an illegal coup. Soon after, Russia annexed Crimea, and pro-Russian separatists took control of eastern regions. Armed with Russian military uniforms and vehicles, they claimed independence.

They established people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk—despite repeated declarations by Moscow that it was not directly involved in eastern Ukraine. Now there are signs that Putin might be looking at more ways to challenge Kyiv’s authority, even at bringing parts of southern Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit.

Now there are signs that Putin might be looking at more ways to challenge Kyiv’s authority, even at bringing parts of southern Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit. Crimea and Donetsk, though located in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, respectively, have been a part of Russia historically. Putin might be looking for ways to connect these territories with other Russian-speaking regions inside or outside of Russia proper.

The two war-torn provinces could be an excuse for Putin to meddle in Ukrainian domestic affairs further. More direct action from Moscow would also increase pressure on Western governments—namely Washington and Brussels—to take some military or financial action against Russia.


Russian Putin Ukraine War: Why Are Things Changing Now?

The Ukraine-Russia crisis results from a power struggle in Eastern Europe between Russia and European powers. Russian President Vladimir Putin sees himself as a defender of Russia’s culture and interests, especially among Russian speakers in other countries. Ukrainians hoping for closer relations with Europe are now worried about what will happen after protesters ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who was friendly toward Moscow. The annexation of Crimea shows that Putin is willing to use force to make gains at home and abroad; it’s unclear how far he’ll go next, but so far, things are already getting ugly.

The U.S. is taking actions, including imposing economic sanctions, that could make Putin think twice about what he does next. The European Union and other countries have also levied sanctions on Russia for their actions in Crimea. Putin’s aims don’t include outright conflict with Western powers—that could lead to much higher costs than he’s willing to bear—but Russia has already shown they aren’t afraid of creating tensions or pushing around smaller nations like Ukraine. Anyone’s guess how far they go, but it won’t be good news for Europe or America.


Russian Putin Ukraine War: What Happens Next?

In late 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin took over Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine. In March 2014, he sent his military into Crimea and other parts of eastern Ukraine; Russia still controls those regions. Russia claims it is protecting ethnic Russians from attacks. Many countries say that Russia should pull its troops out of Crimea and other parts of eastern Ukraine.

They also say Putin should not be allowed to interfere with elections in that country. Countries worldwide have also levied economic sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is trying to negotiate a peace deal with Russia. He wants Putin and Russia to withdraw their troops from Crimea and eastern Ukraine, let Ukrainians elect their government without Russian interference, release prisoners held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and allow access to humanitarian aid.

Putin has said he is open to negotiating a peace treaty with Poroshenko but isn’t ready yet. Some experts have argued that Putin wants an agreement that won’t force him or his soldiers out of Crimea or other parts of eastern Ukraine. But many others think he will leave if enough economic pressure is put on Russia and sanctions are not lifted anytime soon.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have vowed to continue fighting for independence from Kyiv and their freedom from Poroshenko. The rebels said that on June 15, 2015. Most experts agree that there are currently fewer than 1,000 active separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Many fear that Putin will use any peace deal with Poroshenko as an excuse to launch more attacks on Ukrainian soil and eventually conquer more territory. Another concern is that Putin could order his troops out of Crimea and eastern Ukraine but then renege on his promise once he achieves other goals—such as solidifying Russia’s hold over all of Ukraine or forcing Poroshenko out of office in favor of a leader who would be easier for Putin to negotiate with, such as former president Viktor Yanukovych.

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