The Russo-Ukrainian War is a conflict that is still going on between Ukraine and Russia (along with pro-Russian rebel troops). The Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity in February 2014, was begun by Russia and initially centered on the status of Crimea and the Donbas, which are both recognized by the international community as being a part of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin justified starting the largest conflict in Europe since World War Two by claiming that Russia’s ability to feel “secure, develop, and exist” was threatened by modern, Western-leaning Ukraine.
Since then, 13 million people have been displaced, thousands of people have perished, and towns and cities like Mariupol are in ruins. But the issues still exist: why is everything happening, and how will it all end?
Why did Putin unleash the chaos in Ukraine?
The main goal of the Russian leader was to invade Ukraine, overthrow its government, and put an end to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO, a Western defensive alliance. He gave up trying to take over the Ukrainian capital Kyiv after a month of failures and shifted his attention to the east and south of the country.
He declared his intention to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine” when he began the invasion on February 24. His stated goal was to defend those he claimed had been the targets of the Ukrainian government’s eight years of intimidation and genocide. Assuring Ukraine’s neutrality was shortly added as a new goal.
Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, spoke of releasing Ukraine from despotism, while Sergei Naryshkin, the head of foreign intelligence, claimed that “Russia’s destiny and its future place in the world are at stake.”
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine who was duly elected, declared that “the enemy has designated me as target number one; my family as target number two.” Russian military allegedly made two attempts to breach the presidential compound, according to his adviser.
The president of Russia resisted using the terms “invasion” or “war.” Moscow has continued to refer to the largest conflict in Europe since 1945 as a “special military operation.”
The allegations of Nazis and genocide in Ukraine are wholly baseless, but they are a part of a story that Russia has been reiterating for years. Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, remarked, “It’s absurd, sometimes not even they can understand what they are referring to.”
Read more: Ukraine Crisis and Russia’s Justification
Denazification is necessarily also de-Ukrainization, erasing the modern state, as stated in an opinion piece by the state-run news outlet Ria Novosti.
Russian officials are now focused on seizing the two big eastern regions and creating a land corridor along the south coast, east from Crimea to the Russian border. They have claimed control of the southern region of Kherson and a leading Russian general has said they have hopes of seizing territory further west along the Black Sea coast towards Odesa and beyond.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria,” said Maj Gen Rustam Minnekayev, referring to a breakaway area of Moldova, where Russia has some 1,500 troops.
If Russia does capture both eastern regions, it will most likely try to annex them after a sham vote, as it did with Crimea in 2014. Ukraine also accuses occupying forces in Kherson of planning a referendum on creating a separatist entity: they are already introducing Russia’s currency, the ruble, from 1 May.
Capturing Donbas and the land corridor is a mandatory minimum for the Kremlin, warns Tatiana Stanovaya, of analysis firm RPolitik and the Carnegie Moscow Center: “They will keep going. I always hear the same phrase – ‘we have no choice but to escalate’.”
At the end of April, President Putin informed the UN Secretary-General, “We are discussing, we do not reject [talks],” yet he had before said that conversations were at a standstill. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer provided a highly pessimistic judgment of a guy who had adopted a “logic of war” following a meeting with the Russian president.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, had previously conceded that his country will not join NATO, saying, “It is a truth and it must be recognized.” However, he made it clear that there would be no more discussions until Russia withdrew from all lands it had occupied since February 24. This was in response to reports of apparent Russian atrocities in Bucha, Mariupol, and other places.
Protests against Russia
Russia has made an effort to stifle opposition. Any form of protest is prohibited, and over 15,000 individuals have been detained. True patriots from filth and traitors can always be distinguished by the Russian people, according to President Putin.
The political opposition has either left the country or been imprisoned, as was the case with opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and there has been a significant exodus of IT specialists and other professions.
Predicting the future
While retaining partial control of the rest of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, Russia strengthens its land bridge to the Kremlin-controlled Crimean Peninsula and destroys or blocks the port city of Odesa, effectively rendering the nation landlocked.
Putin keeps bombing Ukraine’s infrastructure and annexing regions in the south and east, further weakening the nation as a fully functional state. He suppresses dissent successfully at home and declares a “win.”
Another scenario could be Russia is completely driven out of Ukraine except for Crimea, but Kyiv is preparing to retake the peninsula as a result of an increase in Western arms shipments to Ukraine, a decline in Russian morale at the tactical and strategic levels, and Moscow’s inability to replace military equipment at the levels required (due to Western sanctions) (which Putin would effectively view as an invasion of Russian territory).
What happens next on the battlefield will determine whether the current largely frozen conflict will eventually advantage Russia or Ukraine. Various military outcomes are still plausible. With so many variables in play, it is difficult to attach probabilities to potential scenarios.
But in all cases, the economic damage will be profound not just for Ukraine, but also for the rest of the world. Instead of waiting for an outcome to the war, policymakers must urgently explore solutions to the global food crisis, the growing potential for debt crises in the developing world, and the threat of recession in the West.
The author is a research associate and sub-editor at GVS. She has previously worked with Express-News Islamabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.