Russia invades Ukraine, worldwide backlash ensues
Editor’s Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of this story, some information may be out of date and some may have been incorrectly reported from the start.
By Edward Saenz
After months of anticipation, in the early morning hours of Feb. 24, Russian soldiers officially crossed the border into Ukraine. Troops and tanks from all sides of the country were sent in and unleashed a barrage of airstrikes across the country.
As the attack commenced, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a public address in which he warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would “lead to consequences you have never seen in history.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had received information that “subversive groups” were entering the country, in what U.S. officials believe is a blatant attempt by Putin to dismantle the current Ukrainian government and replace it with pro-Russian leadership.
Russia and Ukraine have been in an armed conflict since early 2014. In late 2013, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal to begin economic integration into the European Union. This led to widespread protests in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Following a military crackdown on the protesters, Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014.
Capitalizing on a weakened Ukraine, in March 2014 Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimea region. Following the Russian takeover, Crimea signed a referendum to annex itself from Ukraine in favor of joining the Russian Federation.
Putin cited the need to protect the Russian people and the Russian speakers of Crimea and southeast Ukraine. With heightened tensions, just a few months later the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine declared independence from Ukraine.
In October 2021, Russia began moving military troops and assets closer to the border in droves. By December, satellite images showed more than 100,000 Russian troops were in place along the Russia Ukraine border. Just a few days later the Russian foreign ministry issued a series of demands, calling for the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to stop all military activity in Eastern Europe. Russia also demanded to stop NATO expansion into Ukraine and countries that share a border with Russia. All demands were denied, and NATO warned Russia of heavy economic sanctions should the country invade Ukraine.
In the wake of the attacks in February 2022, Zelenskyy declared martial law and attempted to appeal to global leaders, saying that “if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer a powerful assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door.”
In a press conference, U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin “chose this war” and had exhibited a “sinister” view of the world in which nations take what they want through military force.
“This is a dangerous moment for all of Europe, for freedom around the world,” Biden said. “This was never about genuine security concerns on Russia’s part. It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary.”
Biden went on to announce the U.S. sanctions that will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies, and high-tech sectors, however, they were designed to not disrupt the global energy markets, as Russian oil and natural gas exports are a vital energy source for Europe.
In the days that followed the sanctions, the Russian currency fell to the point of being equal to less than a United States cent. Multiple countries have announced they will bar all Russian citizens from entering and all air travel to and from Russia has ceased.
Along with the government sanctions, dozens of companies and organizations across the world have announced they will no longer work with Russia. On Feb. 28, FIFA announced it had suspended Russia from the 2022 World Cup. The Union of European Football Association announced it would indefinitely be banning all Russian clubs.
On Feb. 25, Formula One announced it would no longer hold its Russian Grand Prix event, and just a few days later Danish esports tournament organizer Blast Pro Series announced all Russian-based organizations would indefinitely be banned from their events.
In response to the global backlash Putin, in a televised address, announced that his nuclear forces were on alert.
“Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country,” Putin said. “Therefore I hereby order the Minister of Defense and the chief of the General Staff to place the Russian Army Deterrence Force on combat alert.”
In response to Putin’s terrifying claim, Ukraine’s Ambassador, Sergiy Kyslya compared Putin to Hitler and invoked him to kill himself.
“If he wants to kill himself, he doesn’t need to use nuclear arsenal. He has to do what the guy in Berlin did in a bunker in May 1945.”
Ukrainian Counter Strike Global Offensive player, Oleksandr “S1mple” Olegovich Kostyliev gave a speech before his team’s semi-final match at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice event in Poland in front of his Russian and Ukrainian teammates, as well as a Polish crowd.
“I want you to know that esports is out of politics,” S1mple. “All of you, the players and fans, have nothing to do with government decisions. My whole career, I’ve played with Russian players, I’ve played with Ukrainian players. All of them, great guys. Right now, I stand with my friends, my real friends.”
“All of us want peace for Ukraine and the world. We are all scared. And all of us need to show example in this tournament for the whole world. We need to stand together with our friends, with our fans, and with everyone that will watch this tournament. We are humans first.”
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