Putin’s Invasion in Ukraine: How We Got Here and Where It’s Heading


Emilio Morenatti

The burden of the conflict has been shouldered by everyday citizens in Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, at 4:50 A.M., Russian President Vladimir Putin formally announced a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In less than 20 minutes, airstrikes were underway, aimed at Ukraine’s top major military airports. This harrowing move felt around the world was shocking, yet not unexpected. Although this situation in Ukraine is ever-shifting and far from over, the following aims to address questions and provide integral information about this extraordinarily important world event.


For weeks prior, international diplomatic talks had been underway in efforts to negotiate peace with Putin regarding his increased aggression towards Ukraine, purportedly originating from his fear of further western and NATO influence on neighboring Ukraine. World leaders pushed to appease Putin following his increased military presence surrounding Ukraine and deployment of additional troops in areas including Crimea, Belarus, and along Russia’s Western border with Ukraine. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had expressed willingness to negotiate in order to avoid war with Putin, but continually affirmed the strength and readiness of the Ukrainian government and people in the event of invasion. 

It has been widely known to the Ukrainian people and the rest of the globe that Putin thinks that Ukraine belongs to him, making this especially clear in 2014 by forcibly annexing the Crimean Peninsula from underneath Ukraine. The cultural ties between Russia and Ukraine remain strong, considering Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Putin views these cultural ties as further justification for why Ukraine should belong to him, leading some to compare his assault to that of Hitler’s in Czechoslovakia.1 Hitler justified his 1938 invasion of the Sudetenland2 by citing the cultural and ethnic ties that Germany had with the Sudetenland region, similar to Putin’s reasons today. All of this said, Putin invading Ukraine is not a shock to the Ukrainian people, nor to the rest of the world. Knowledge of Putin’s intentions of reclaiming former Soviet territory has been existent for years.


In his speech early on Thursday morning in Moscow, Putin claimed that the Ukrainian government was run by “far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis,” then stating that his goal in invading was “to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime.”

Despite Putin’s claims, it is widely agreed that his motives lie not in the best interest of the Ukrainian people, but in reinstituting Russian influence in the Ukrainian government and expelling all traces of the West. 


Russian troops have advanced into Ukraine from the North, East, and South, heading towards the capital city of Kyiv, a move to “decapitate” the country. Although Putin likely did not anticipate a strong resistance to his forces, Ukrainian military and civilians have fought vigilantly against enemy troops, resulting in at least a delay of Putin’s capture of Kyiv. 

The widespread sentiment within Ukraine is one of resilience. President Zelenskyy has remained in Ukraine despite a U.S. offer to evacuate him while many citizens have chosen to stay in Ukraine and defend their country. As the government urged civilians to resist, many have taken up arms and begun making homemade Molotov cocktails3 in anticipation of Russian troops invading their cities. 

However, many Ukrainian citizens have chosen to flee the country to the Western neighboring country of Poland or migrate to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. At least 50,000 Ukrainians have fled the country as of Saturday morning, as Poland braces for up to 1 million to pour through the border. 


The international response to Putin’s invasion has consisted of condemnations of Russia from many nations and the imposing of economic sanctions against major Russian banks. President Zelenskyy has called for more international support to Ukraine and tougher economic bans on Russia, including banning Russia from the SWIFT banking system, a critical tool for international market trade. In an unprecedented move, NATO has deployed its defense force to nearby Eastern European countries, and, as articles were submitted, indicated a willingness to use SWIFT against Russia.


The U.S. and all other NATO countries have not sent any troops to Ukraine despite pouring weaponry into the country. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, therefore NATO, nor any other country, is required to aid them. Putin has warned against foreign intervention in the conflict, threatening “consequences you have never encountered in your history,” a statement many took to imply nuclear warfare. If the U.S. were to deploy troops to Ukraine, this conflict would likely become a World War. The possible ramifications of two or more nuclear-powered countries fighting against each other would be disastrous. However, U.S. intervention will be immediate and required if Putin extends his invasion westward to any NATO-allied country. Article 5 of the NATO pact states:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them [..] will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area”

In short, this means that an attack on any NATO-aligned country is considered an attack

 on all NATO countries; this, in turn, would theoretically trigger a full-blown attack from all NATO allies against the aggressor. 


As forces close in on Kyiv, they will likely capture the capital despite resistance from Ukrainian forces. Economic sanctions imposed by global leaders will inevitably lead to disastrous consequences for Russia’s economy. A preview of these effects was seen already, as the Russian stock market crashed and the value of Russia’s currency dropped to a record low within the first day of the invasion. The U.S. and other countries likely will continue to increase economic sanctions against Russia and Putin personally. Further from that, we have no concrete prediction of what Putin will do or how far he will take this aggression. Along with the rest of the world, we have no choice but to stand by and watch. 

However, the importance of staying informed cannot be understated. Although this isn’t a war happening within the United States, it is still immensely important. All that happens in the world affects us all, even if it may seem distant from us. Stay attentive and stay informed. 

1  now Czechia and Slovakia

2 parts of Northern and Eastern Czechoslovakia

3 easily-made explosives