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Russia and Ukraine - A Breakdown of the Conflict

By Sumaiya Nasir and Fiona Hernandez | February 24, 2022

Photo Credit: Stock Photos

After months of threatening war and several failed attempts at peace negotiations, Russia invaded Ukraine Thursday morning, attacking several major cities and airports including Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine became its own independent state in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although the country had gained its independence, Russia still considers the country under its rule.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sought to include Ukraine as a member in 2008, which angered Putin who opposed the eastward expansion of the organization, deeming it a threat to their national security. Plans were halted in 2010 with the election of Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, who was later ousted from office during a coup staged by Ukrainian citizens due to his anti-West views in 2014. Since then, Ukrainians have pushed to be included in NATO, but have not progressed for fear of provoking Russia.

“The attack launched by Russia against Ukraine was a clear, unacceptable violation of international law,” said Dr. Brian Early, Associate Dean for Research at the University at Albany. “The U.S. should respond by mobilizing all possible international diplomatic efforts to condemn Russia’s military aggression. The U.S. should then work with its allies, especially its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to provide aid to Ukraine and to impose debilitating, costly economic sanctions against Russia to undermine its capacity to wage war and deter future aggression.”

NATO leaders announced Thursday shortly after the invasion that they will impose a series of sanctions on Russia including freezing assets of all major Russian banks, cutting businesses off from the Western market, and restricting the exportation of technology, with the hope of debilitating the Russian economy in the coming months.

Stock prices in Europe have already drastically dropped and oil prices skyrocketed as a result of the invasion. Russia is a major food supplier for Europe and many parts of the Middle East and Africa, as well as an oil and natural gas producer. According to reporting by the New York Times, sanctions placed on Russia and supply chain issues will not directly impact the United States, yet unrest amongst American consumers could set back spending and other activities.

In a press conference today, President Biden said that he has authorized sending more troops to the European Union, and emphasized that there will be no fighting with Russia and Ukraine. He did, however, say that the United States would defend its NATO allies if Russia were to move beyond Ukraine.

“The U.S. has a clear, compelling interest in standing up to Russia’s aggression against a fellow, friendly democratic state,” said Early, “and should work closely with its allies to force Russia to cease its hostilities in Ukraine and constrain Russia’s ability to threaten the security of other countries.”

The university invited history professor Nadieszda Kizenko, a scholar of Russian intellectual and cultural history, to discuss the roots of the current Russo-Ukrainian crisis during an online Zoom session titled “Ukraine and Russia: Key Moments in a Long Relationship” on Thursday. This session was part of a series run by University Libraries called “Campus Conversations in Standish.”


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