Russians have launched a devastating air, sea, and land attack on a European democracy with 44 million citizens. A massive exodus of refugees is underway as its forces bomb city centres and close Kyiv.

After months of refusing to invade, President Vladimir Putin tore up the peace agreement and launched what Germany calls “Putin’s war”, sending forces into the country’s north, east, and south.
Russia’s leader stands accused of bringing Europe to its knees as the death toll climbs. If the situation continues, the continental security system could be severely compromised.

What is the purpose of the Russian attack?

President Putin made the statement in a broadcast address on 24 February. During this address, he claimed that Ukraine posed a constant threat to Russia’s safety, development, and existence. Within minutes, both airports and military headquarters were attacked. Subsequently, Russian troops, as well as their ally Belarus, rolled in with tanks and troops. After air attacks on major cities, Russia now controls Kherson, a key southern port city.

Many of its leaders’ justifications for the invasion were irrational or false. Russia refuses to use the terms war and invasion to describe its actions. “Denazification” and “de-militarization” of Ukraine are among his stated goals. Ukraine is a democracy under the leadership of a Jewish president and has committed no genocide.

As Volodymyr Zelensky, who compared the Russian invasion to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe, said, “How can I be a Nazi?” Israel has also rejected Russia’s attacks. Putin has alleged that extremists are in control throughout Ukraine’s protests against its pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

A rebellion followed in the east, with Russia backing separatists in a war that has claimed 14,000 lives. Then, Russia retaliated by seizing Crimea and triggering a rebellion. After Russia threatened to attack Ukraine in 2021, it deployed thousands of troops close to its borders.

A 2015 peace deal for the east was immediately scrapped, and rebel-controlled areas were recognized as independent. Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the west’s military alliance, NATO. In his invasion announcement, Putin claimed that NATO threatened “our historic future as a nation”.

What will Russia do next?

The Russians have now made it clear they intend to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government and take control of the major cities. “I have been designated as the number one target by the enemy; my family is number two,” Zelensky said.

The stated goal of Russia is for Ukraine to be liberated and rid of Nazism. According to this false narrative that fascists have been running Ukraine since 2014, Mr Putin has promised to bring “those who committed many bloody crimes against civilians” to justice.

Ukraine is not aware of its long-term goals. The Ukrainian leader rejects accusations that he is trying to establish a pro-Kremlin puppet, which the UK made in January. According to an unconfirmed intelligence report, he is rumored to divide the country.

Even though he faces formidable opposition from a hostile population, he’s shown he’s ready to bomb civilian areas if necessary. Currently, Russia’s Baltic neighbors are not at risk, but Nato has bolstered their defenses just in case.

Before the invasion, the Russian media and people focused on the regions in the east that rebels backed by Russia held when Putin recognized their independence, which began to change.

In addition to making it clear that he did not consider them part of Ukraine, he declared his support for their claims to a far larger territory in the country. Rebels also covet the remainder of the regions in Donetsk and Luhansk that are not under the control of the self-styled people’s republics.

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