A Russian military invasion of Ukraine is under way after Russia's president Vladimir Putin announced the operation on Thursday afternoon NZT.
In a televised address Putin threatened any country that interfered would experience “consequences they have never seen”.
Russia has more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world. So why are they doing this?
Both Russia and the West sees Ukraine as a buffer against each other. For centuries, Ukraine was a part of the former Russian empire until it broke free in 1991. It’s claimed Russia lost 40 per cent of its territory since then.
Many countries once aligned with the former Soviet Union have joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the west.
Ukraine is one of the largest countries in the region with a population of 44 million and one of the largest militaries in the region.
While Ukraine has deep social and cultural ties to Russia – many Ukrainians speak the language – a 2014 uprising saw pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych replaced with one who favoured the West, resulting in an invasion and souring diplomatic ties.
Russian soldiers were sent to seize the Crimean Peninsula, igniting an eight-year war that claimed 14,000 lives. It also created pockets of rebel provinces, notably in Donetsk and Luhansk. The republics were, until recently, not recognised by any other state. However, earlier this week, Putin claimed the two Moscow-backed regions, claiming they were independent from Ukraine.
Putin then ordered Russian troops into the regions and on Thursday issued a military operation in Donbas to prevent NATO from expanding further.
NATO will convene a summit on Saturday with 30 allied nations to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said in his first statement on the unfolding crisis.
Top Image: Right Sector militias gather outside the city hall prior to deploying on defensive positions on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images