Why Russia Invaded Ukraine and What It Means for the US


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Jesus Ortiz, OwlFeed News Reporter

The fear of war has become a reality as Russia invades Ukraine. 

This conflict has gone out of control. As of February 23, 2022, Russia declared war on Ukraine. Russia sent troops into Ukraine, clearly violating its sovereignty. 

Russia entered with guns blazing and have sent missiles into key cities in Ukraine. Russia also had many tanks and troops go into the two rebel-held regions of Ukraine. Russia has sent missiles into airports and has sent airstrikes down on cities. 

As of February 24, many have been killed or injured by Russian forces. According to CNN, “Late Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that according to preliminary figures, 137 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the Russian attack began, and another 316 soldiers have been wounded.” 

We could only expect that those numbers will rise in the coming days. 

What is the rest of the world doing? Currently, many countries have been working with NATO to impose sanctions on Russia for declaring war, which was unprovoked. 

Jeremy Herb and Phil Mattingly, two CNN reporters, said, “US President Joe Biden unleashed sweeping sanctions Thursday responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine that target Moscow’s banking, technology, and aerospace sectors, though the US and Europe stopped short of several key steps to target Moscow – and Putin himself.”

At the border of Russia and Ukraine, Russia has increased the resources that Russia needs in order to invade. A Ukrainian intelligence report shared exclusively with CNN said, “The total number of Russian troops at the border has increased in recent days to more than 148,000, including more than 126,000 ground troops, the report says, echoing US intelligence about the build-up.” 

Russia has been building up its arsenal at the border of Ukraine for the last two months.

On February 21, 2022, Russia gave orders to go into two rebel-held regions of Ukraine. The Kremlin said that the presence of the Russian troops is a peacekeeping mission. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the “claim that Russian forces are entering those regions as ‘peacekeepers’ is nonsense.” 

The tension is at an all-time high. Russia and Ukraine have been fighting just because Ukraine wants to join NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Ukraine joining NATO made Russia become nervous because the west is getting too close to Russia. Back when the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was intact, the Soviet Union enjoyed having a really big influence on half of Europe and having big territory.

At the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent state. Over the years the western culture had influenced Ukraine to become a part of NATO. But one thing that is stopping Ukraine from joining the alliance is its really big and powerful neighbor…Russia. 

The one thing Russia has feared over the decades is the west getting too close to home, and if Ukraine gets accepted into NATO, Russia is vulnerable. The reason why Russia is fearful is that the Ukraine border is very close to Moscow, which is the capital of Russia. 

One more thing that makes Russia vulnerable is the Black Sea. The Black Sea is a very big component of why Russia wants to go into Ukraine. If Ukraine joined NATO, Russia would be deprived of trading in the Mediterranean. 

According to carnegieendowment.org, “Moscow depends on the Black Sea for access to the Mediterranean and beyond, both for military operations outside its immediate neighborhood and for exports of Russia’s main commodity (hydrocarbons). Moscow sees the Mediterranean as largely NATO-dominated, but it hopes to spot opportunities to make political, economic, and military inroads with key regional states, as it has done in Syria.”

How did this all happen, and why did it escalate? Russia and Ukraine have been at it for a long time. When Ukraine became an independent state, it had the third-largest atomic arsenal in the world. The United States and Russia worked together to denuclearize the country. They also had a series of diplomatic agreements to help Ukraine and Russia. 

One of Russia’s ways of showing aggression is cyberattacks, and that’s what Russia did. On February 16, Ukraine blamed Russia for a cyberattack on two of its banks and its defense ministry. The Kremlin has denied all further allegations and has not taken responsibility for the cyberattack. 

Esther Naylor, a research analyst at Chatham House, told The Guardian, “Attacks don’t have to do anything more destructive than a denial of service. Their goal is to cause panic, and to make people think what might come next.”

What does this mean for the US? The Russia and Ukraine conflict is going to affect many things for the US. 

One thing that will really be affected is foreign relationships and energy. Russia has lots of oil and natural gasses, they are a really big exporter to Europe. Due to conflict Russia may decide to stop or reduce the export of gas and oil to Europe. That could affect many relationships with the US because many countries depend on Russia’s oil and gas. 

According to npr.org, “Russia could choose to cut off or limit oil and gas exports to Europe as retaliation for sanctions. Nearly 40% of the natural gas used by the European Union comes from Russia — and no European country imports more than Germany, a key ally of the United States. Even if Russia chooses not to limit exports, supplies could still be affected by a conflict in Ukraine because multiple pipelines run through the country, carrying gas from Russia to Europe.”

One more thing that could be affected is the global markets. According to npr.org, “Beyond sanctions and counter-sanctions, global financial markets would likely have a negative reaction to a European military invasion of a scale not seen since World War II. Americans with exposure to the stock market — like those with 401(k)s and other retirement accounts — could feel an effect, though it would most likely be short term.”

Those financial concerns are of course secondary to the loss of human life caused by this war.