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What’s Happening With Russia’s 2022 Invasion of Ukraine Explained, How the U.S. is Getting Involved, and How to Help Provide Humanitarian Relief

heart in the Ukrainian flag colors Blue and Yellow with the Ukrainian flag and text that reads stand with Ukraine

 via The Verge 

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladamir Putin would make a shocking declaration, quickly catching the world by storm. Addressing his nation, the allegedly 5’6 heel-wearing leader announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, successfully invading the country Russia has been in conflict with since 2014. This invasion marked the commencement of what is “Now, the largest mobilization of forces Europe has seen since 1945,” which took place during the second world war. Due to his actions initiating violent contact, Putin has intensified a war that overnight impacted not just Ukraine and Russia, but other parts of the world as well. 

What’s Happening With Russia and Ukraine

The early morning of the 24th started with a bang(pun intended) in Ukraine as Putin utilized military weapons never previously used in a state of war— such as ballistic missles— and launched a military attack on the country of approximately 40 million. He claims the Russian military desires  “demilitarization and denazification” with no intention of occupation. Attacks were then engaged from multiple fronts targeting multiple cities not anticipating the level of resistance they would receive from Ukraine. After facing Ukrainian resistance, “Outside observers speculated that Mr. Putin, frustrated by the surprisingly slow advance of his forces, may have grown impatient and decided to intensify the military barrage.” 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin has publicly grieved the loss of Ukraine along with other republics. This collapse caused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to expand eastward intaking many previously Communist European nations. As Russia no longer had power over these nations, Putin saw the possible expansion into Ukraine as “a major threat to his country” insisting Ukraine is culturally and historically part of Russia. On account of these beliefs, Putin made a list of demands in December 2021 that would essentially “establish a Cold War-like security arrangement” between Russia and the United States and pose “a challenge to diplomatic efforts to defuse Russia’s growing military threat to Ukraine” which NATO was immediately rejected.  

How the U.S. is Responding 

In December, as Ukraine is not an official member of NATO and therefore not entitled to collective defense, President Biden announced there would be no U.S. troops sent to assist the county (as it has the potential to escalate the conflict into igniting WWIII). However, the U.S. sent anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons to Ukraine as well as increased American military presence in Russian boarding countries that are a part of NATO. Additionally, prior to the invasion, Biden warned Putin of “economic consequences like none he’s ever seen.” Since the invasion, Biden has begun initiating these consequences, announcing the U.S. response to Russia’s actions is aggressive new sanctions targeting Russia’s largest banks by cutting them off from much of the global financial systems and preventing the country from importing crucial American technology. Furthermore, in an effort to deliver consequences for “a premeditated attack” against a free European nation, Biden announced the U.S. “was freezing trillions of dollars in Russian assets, including the funds controlled by Russian elites and their families.” The Ukrainian-Russian war has almost shifted into a battle of who will concede first: Ukraine to Russia’s military assault or Russia’s economy due to multilateral efforts and collective efforts to impose sanctions and revoke financial access. 

Unfortunately, Putin’s attempt to reclaim power over the now Soviet independent Ukraine has initiated a devastating conflict in Europe and has sparked a humanitarian crisis resulting in the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Ukrainian citizens and even more fleeing the country with millions of people attempting to escape the violence so far. The Russian military has reportedly “targeted critical infrastructure, like airports, with airstrikes and has launched more than 400 missiles, as of March 1, [2022].” This military invasion has left many homeless, without food, and injured among other harsh conditions resulting from Russia’s invasion. Russian and Ukrainian citizens alike face the consequences of being caught in a violent feud between their two countries. 

Ways to Help the Humanitarian Crisis

Luckily, even though Putin has created a mass humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, there are ways to get involved and assist those facing hardship. One of the most significant efforts to assist vulnerable people is donations but if you are not in a position to donate, educating yourself, volunteering, and sharing resources is also a great way to help out. No matter what action you take, any small effort goes a long way in helping those in need of aid. 

If you are considering a donation, here are some options: 

When there’s a humanitarian issue, no matter who it is, it is all of our problems. We have to hold each other accountable and support those in need constantly. You cannot pick and choose when to support others and expect others to support you. Share your support to those in Ukraine and Russia who are simply victims of the violence. 

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