Breaking news and the latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine crisis
Russia's unprovoked attack on its neighbor Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, 2022, left the entire world stunned. After months of increasing tensions and frantic attempts at diplomacy, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a "special military operation" that revealed itself to be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 was the prequel to Putin's main event. Aggrieved by NATO's eastward expansion and obsessed with a new European order in which Russia is restored to a lofty great power seat, his aggressive instincts have sharpened over the past decade.
The 2014 Maidan movement in Ukraine led to the fall of a pro-Russian government and a marked shift towards Europe. Five years later, former comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of a country still wracked by civil conflict in its eastern regions. Separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, backed covertly and sometimes overtly by Russia, had been continuously fighting the Ukrainian army, despite a ceasefire agreed in the Minsk II agreement of 2015.
While the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic somewhat reduced hostilities, the US and its NATO allies began sounding the alarm about a massive Russian military buildup on Ukraine's borders as 2021 drew to a close. Despite clear evidence of well over 100,000 troops being mobilized, Putin insisted Russia had no intention of invading. Until it did.
In a long, resentful speech delivered on February 21, Putin aired his grievances with the West and then recognized the independence of the separatist regions in Ukraine, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. He also pledged to protect them from a supposed genocide.
Going beyond what many were expected, Russia launched an invasion by land, sea, and air, pummeling targets in Ukraine with missiles and artillery. Fighting has been ongoing in Kiev, Odessa, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Lviv, among other places. Russian tanks are also rolling into Ukraine from Belarus. Ukrainian President Zelensky declared a state of war and demanded help from the West, which responded with economic sanctions.
Events on the ground in Ukraine are moving fast and the US is constantly reassessing the responses at its disposal.
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