Who are the stakeholders and what do they want?

“I made the decision to carry out a special military operation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said as he invaded Ukraine. But is it just a special military operation? The war is in its second week and Russian troops have entered Ukraine on all fronts. All cities were attacked, including the capital Kiev. More than half a million Ukrainians have been forced to flee while many are still hiding in bunkers, basements, metro stations across the country, waiting for the war to end. Europe is experiencing one of its biggest wars since World War II.

Putin has repeatedly insisted that modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia. He believes that Ukraine and Russia are one nation and so here is his attempt to make that happen.

While the two countries share a history, Ukraine has fought for its own identity. The Russian Revolution toppled the empire in 1917 and Ukraine was taken over by the Soviet Union after a brief phase of independence. At the end of 1991, Ukraine began to declare its independence from Soviet rule. Belarus and Ukraine had long been keen to join NATO and this made them Russia’s prime target.

Ukraine became a NATO partner in 1994 and in 2013 decided to sign an agreement with the European Union. But Ukraine has suspended talks on the EU trade pact due to pressure from its pro-Russian government. Protesters saying “Ukraine is Europe” grew during this period and the Ukrainian president was elected. During this time, Putin began to lose his influence over Ukraine and it was then that he began to take a tough stance against Ukraine. Putin invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, then Russian-backed separatists captured Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. These regions were later declared independent, and Putin has since retained these regions to destabilize Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced and thousands have been killed in this movement.

In November 2021, Putin decided to go all out but continued to deny his invasion plans. Satellite images showing a military placement on Ukraine’s border were reported and weeks later Putin presented a list of his demands. He wanted NATO to return to its military borders as they were in 1997 and stop expanding. But NATO rejected his demands and that’s when Putin decided to act.

Military operations were carried out in Belarus. On February 23, reports emerged of Ukraine’s imposition of a state of emergency and President Zelensky appealed to the Russian people. A few hours later, what we feared happened. On February 24, Putin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine. The attack was called barbaric by world leaders. The warnings to Russia poured in – “Putin chose this war and now he will bear the consequences,” US President Joe Biden has said.

NATO’s response force has been activated for the first time in history as Russia holds the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Putin has warned that anyone who gets in his way will face consequences never seen in history. Countries began to impose the toughest economic sanctions on Russia, but all this failed to stop Putin. Russian forces continue to enter Ukraine, which is now fighting back zealously.

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