In 1991, the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), also known as the Soviet Union, got divided into 15 different countries. The biggest among those countries was Russia. Ukraine was also among those countries that got separated from the Soviet Union.
After knowing that Ukraine and Russia used to be a part of the same country (USSR), you might think that it is not a big deal if Russia and Ukraine merge as one country again. However, that is not true. Ukrainians always had a nationalistic identity among them. In 1921, Lenin's Red Army invaded Ukraine. In 1922, the USSR was established as an outcome of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Before becoming a part of the USSR, Ukraine was an independent country that achieved independence from the Russian Empire in 1918. It was during 1917 when the Russian Empire got overthrown due to the Russian Revolution.
The nationalistic feelings among Ukrainians, and the belief that Ukraine deserves to have its own national identity, are not something that emerged after 1991. This nationalistic identity existed among Ukrainians even before 1991. This is because, throughout its history, Ukraine saw itself existing as an independent country as well as being a part of the Russian, Polish and Lithuanian Empires.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent country again. After their independence, there emerged people with different opinions about the collapse of the USSR. Some people were happy about achieving independence and looked forward to joining the European Union. Another group of people was unhappy about it, and they believed that Ukraine belonged to Russia and considered themselves to be Russians instead of Ukrainians. The second group of people was mostly found in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, shared the same beliefs with those Ukrainians who considered themselves to be Russians. Vladimir Putin is also reported to have said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major humanitarian tragedy. He also wrote an article where he mentioned that Ukraine and Ukrainians are an important part of Russian history and culture.
There were a lot of speculations and predictions from experts that Russia may invade Ukraine soon. Unfortunately, their predictions did come true. As of 24 February 2022, Russia had already launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Let us look at the crucial events that led to this invasion.
14 February 2010
Viktor Yanukovych gets elected as the new president of Ukraine. The USA & the EU (European Union) were not happy with the results of the 2010 Ukrainian presidential elections as they believed that the new Ukrainian president was too aligned to Russia.
Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States, instigated the Colour Revolution. This revolution led to a coup in Ukraine that resulted in Yakunovych being overthrown from power.
Many leaders in eastern Ukraine kept allegiance to Yakunovych even after he got overthrown from power. Many anti-government protests occurred and a referendum gets held in Crimea. 97% of the respondents voted to return Crimea to Russia. Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014. Ukraine loses control of Crimea. Crimea is now controlled and governed by Russia.
Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk separate themselves from Ukraine and proclaim themselves as independent countries.
Ukraine and Russia sign a series of agreements in Minsk, Belarus, to end hostilities in eastern Ukraine. These agreements were known as the Minsk agreements.
Despite the Minsk agreements, battles between the Ukrainian soldiers and the separatist forces of Luhansk and Donetsk kept occurring.
The EU and the USA imposed international sanctions against Russia due to Russia giving aid to the separatist forces of Luhansk and Donetsk. These sanctions led to the collapse of the Russian currency. It also caused economic damage to the EU countries.
It was estimated that Russia lost around $600 billion due to the economic sanctions imposed by the EU and the USA against them.
The UN published a report saying that the countries of the EU were losing around “$3.2 billion a month” due to the sanctions imposed by Russia against them.
Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to mobilize Russian soldiers near the border of Ukrainian border.
The US intelligence agencies announced that Russia would invade Ukraine soon, predicting that an invasion may begin before the conclusion of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) starts providing weapons to Ukraine.
The USA sent soldiers to Germany and Poland to reinforce NATO’s presence in Europe, along with F-15 fighter jets to Romania. Britain also deployed soldiers, warships, and jets to Eastern Europe.
The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics request Russian President Putin to officially recognize the independence of those two republics. Putin agrees to their requests and signed Russia’s recognition of the republics and ordered troops to be sent there.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced that a lot of sanctions would be imposed on Russian banks and individuals. EU foreign ministers blacklisted those Russians who voted in favor of the recognition of the breakaway regions.
24 February 2022
President Putin announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in the Donbas region. Russia officially invades Ukraine.