Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Background, Updates, and More

Genevieve Eck


Ever since Russia and the United States’ allyship in World War II, their friendship has only deteriorated due to ideological differences between the Soviet Union and the U.S. (the kickstarter of the Cold War). Post-WWII, the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) created great distrust between Russia and the North Atlantic nations. NATO was formed to strengthen Western Europe against a possible Soviet nuclear attack. This already-present strife was only furthered by Ukraine’s announcement to partner with NATO in 1992, which, ironically, was only made because the Ukrainian government seeked protection from Russian aggression. Despite never fully becoming a NATO member, Ukraine forming this direct link with the U.S. and Europe coupled with Ukraine’s direct border to Russia gave Vladimir Putin (Russia’s President) reason to believe that Ukraine was a threat to Soviet influence. Therefore, according to BBC, the reason for Russia’s invasion on Thursday, Feb. 24 was to take over the Ukrainian government and deter any further action in their ties with NATO. Russia’s preparations for this invasion occurred long before this date, however, since they “started growing [their] military presence around Ukraine […] in late 2021,” reasoning for which still goes unexplained.

What’s Happened So Far?

Things were already beginning to heat up in early February 2022. The week of Feb. 5, United States President Joe Biden had already begun to reinforce NATO troops in Germany, Poland, and Romania due to military buildup near Ukraine from Russia. On February 21, 2022, the tensions between Russia and Ukraine started to grow exponentially. It was this day that Putin sent military troops to Donetsk and Luhansk, regions of Ukraine that had broken off in 2014 and had from then on been run by “Russian terrorists,” according to US News. It was only three days after when Russia launched their full-scale invasion from the eastern territory of Donbas in Ukraine. The same day, President Biden addressed the nation live, announcing immediate economic 

A map of Ukraine, the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk to the east with Russia and Poland to the South. (Peter Fitzgerald 2009)

sanctions and stating, “Putin is the aggressor, Putin chose this war.” He also announced a summit taking place the next day, where “the leaders of 30 allied nations” would come together and discuss the next steps. President Biden made it very clear in his speech that U.S. forces would not engage in Ukraine, but be sent to eastern NATO allies in defense (CNBC). Eventually, extra NATO defenses began to move into Poland. Aside from NATO allies, more and more neutral countries began siding with Ukraine as time passed. Countries such as Finland, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, and Vatican City began to support Ukraine while shaming Russia’s actions. Even Switzerland imposed sanctions, one of its only military actions since becoming a neutral country in 1516 (SWI).

Recent Updates

On March 17, a United States citizen was killed in Ukraine. Russian troops bombarded a theater in central Chernihiv, killing several people who had been sheltering inside. Underneath the rubble, a basement with a bomb shelter was found with the people in it still “alive and well,”. It is not yet clear what the U.S. citizens’ killing will mean for the United States and its role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

According to US News, the Pentagon announced that, after three weeks of Russia and Ukraine at war, Russia has “still not achieved any of its objectives on the ground.” They also estimate that Russia and Ukraine both still hold 90% of their combat power. Russia is also stated to have no indication of preparing any chemical or biological attacks, and the United States continues to supply weapons and security to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to the United States Congress on March 16, 2022 regarding his fight against Russia, pleading for more assistance. He asked for more aircraft and more sanctions, suggesting that the U.S. should cut off trade with Russia entirely. Much more significantly, he proposed a new association, United for Peace (U24), to assist Ukraine and other supposed members of U24 during manmade or natural disasters. Biden responded by denying the request for more air defenses, yet continues to push sanctions and financially assist Ukraine’s security. Many believe that assisting in Zelensky’s “no-fly zone” would result in unnecessary conflict escalation and political divide.

Further Information

For more information on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, take a look at some of these resources.