In this post, we’ll explore common questions about the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Panicked residents in eastern Ukraine began boarding up their apartments and preparing to flee their hometown on Saturday as the Ukrainian army said it had begun a “full-scale” offensive against pro-Russian separatists.
Panic has begun to grip the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Residents are boarding up their apartments and preparing to flee their hometowns as the Ukrainian army says it has begun a “full-scale” offensive against pro-Russian separatists.
“We’re scared,” said Olga, a 30-year-old resident of Donetsk who declined to give her last name out of fear for her safety. “We’re waiting for them [the government forces] to come here.”
As Kyiv’s forces prepare for what they hope will be their final push against rebel strongholds in eastern Ukraine, residents across this region are struggling with whether or not they should stay or go into hiding somewhere else within the country’s borders.
The military operation, launched in the early morning hours after days of air strikes and artillery barrages, marked Kyiv’s most direct challenge yet to insurgents who are battling government forces in the former Soviet republic.
You may have heard that the Ukrainian army launched an offensive against pro-Russian separatists. Well, they did, and it’s happening right now. The Ukrainian troops are fighting pro-Russian rebels in the east of their country, close to Russia itself.
The operation came after days of air strikes and artillery barrages by government forces on rebel positions around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.
“The enemy is not allowing our troops to leave and is firing at them with artillery,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement Saturday. He added that he has ordered the military to show restraint as they carry out their mission.
Ukraine is fighting Russia
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia began in 2014 when pro-Russian separatists launched a war against the government in Kyiv. The Kremlin had long supported these rebels by providing weapons and training, as well as Russian soldiers fighting on their side. In response to this aggression, Ukraine launched its own military campaign called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (ATO) against the pro-Russian forces in the country’s southeast region. Since then, both sides have engaged each other through sporadic battles and open warfare has broken out intermittently between them ever since.
The operation came a day after Poroshenko scrapped an unpopular truce with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, which had been declared just 10 days earlier.
The ceasefire was unpopular because it was seen as granting concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Ukraine blames for sending troops and weapons into its territory when violence flared up again at the end of June.
Poroshenko said he had no choice but to end the ceasefire after rebels ignored his demands and tried to capture Debaltseve, a strategic rail hub between Donetsk and Luhansk that sits on a crossroads connecting the two rebel strongholds with Russia. The Ukrainian forces withdrew from Debaltseve under heavy fire Wednesday morning.
Russia must be stopped.
Role of the United States
The United States has no choice but to intervene on the side of Ukraine against Russia. For one thing, it’s clear that Russia is not going to stop its aggression without a real military threat from the West. Its aggression against Ukraine has been ongoing for several years now, and even though the country itself seems exhausted by all these wars and conflicts, there’s no reason for us not to believe that Putin won’t continue his campaign until he achieves his goals.
Secondly, this conflict could easily spread beyond Ukraine’s borders if we don’t act now—and it doesn’t take much imagination at all to realize what might happen if Russia were allowed to continue its campaign of imperialistic conquest in Eastern Europe. Our allies would be weakened; our enemies would gain strength; eventually, they would turn their eyes toward us again and threaten us once more with their nuclear weapons (because let’s face it: Vladimir Putin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon).
The Ukrainian military’s operation is aimed at quelling the rebellion in a region that borders Russia, where pro-Russian forces have seized dozens of government buildings and set up checkpoints on roads throughout the region. The offensive will be “full-scale” with the use of heavy artillery, Poroshenko said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday called for an immediate halt to what it described as “military aggression against citizens in southeastern Ukraine.” But the military operation does not seem to have deterred pro-Russian separatists from continuing their fight against Kyiv’s forces.