Streaming from the city centre of Kiev, or Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, this is a live webcam stream of Maidan Square, also known as Independence Square. The Russian forces are advancing into Ukraine, and air raid sirens continue to blare across Kiev’s Maidan Square.
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In November 2013, Ukraine’s journey towards a closer relationship with the EU was stopped abruptly when a planned association agreement was called off at the last minute. Pressure from Moscow was too great for President Yanukovych to ignore, so protests and demonstrations began on Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti – the largest since the Orange Revolution. A violent police response only added fuel to the fire and by December protesters had taken over City Hall and were demanding that Yanukovych step down. In response, Russia offered economic assistance in the form of discounted gas prices and bond purchases in exchange for political advantage.
Demonstrations in January 2014 quickly escalated to rioting, prompting Yanukovych to approve laws that limited the right to protest. The action triggered an uproar and hundreds of thousands marched throughout Kyiv. Violent clashes between police and protesters ensued, resulting in hundreds of injuries on both sides. Tragically two demonstrators were killed in the conflict with police on January 22. Rallies quickly spread to northeastern Ukraine, a region that typically supported Yanukovych and his favor for closer relations with Russia. Protesters occupied several government offices, including the justice ministry, inspiring parliament to annul the anti-protest regulations without delay. During ongoing conversations between Yanukovych and opposition leaders, Azarov resigned from his post as Prime Minister.
In February, a political agreement saw the release of hundreds of protesters held in jail, leading to the evacuation of demonstrators from occupied buildings. The hope of reconciliation evaporated quickly though when opposition parties failed to limit presidential influence. On February 18th, an attempt by government forces to recapture the Maidan ended with over 20 people dead and hundreds wounded. In an attempt to obstruct a second attack, 25,000 protesters still in the square created bonfires around their encampment. Meanwhile, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk had citizens take control of state properties as officials from the EU threatened sanctions against Ukraine if no effort was made to reduce violence. No truce was achieved on February 20th and violence only increased; police and security forces opened fire on crowds resulting in numerous casualties. This caused EU leaders to adhere to their promise by enacting punishments on Ukraine and government power declined further in western Ukrainian cities with opposition groups intervening in police stations and administration offices in Lutsk, Ternopil, and Uzhhorod.
The week of February 21 saw one of the bloodiest episodes in post-Soviet Ukrainian history end with an EU-brokered agreement between Yanukovych and opposition leaders mandating early elections and a unified interim government. The parliament subsequently passed two crucial motions, restoring the 2004 constitution curtailing presidential power, and granting amnesty to protesters. With other votes, they fired internal affairs minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko for his involvement in suppressing the Maidan, and decriminalized sections of the law which had been used to prosecute Tymoshenko. As Yanukovych’s authority rapidly weakened, he fled the capital before a parliamentary impeachment vote stripped him of his presidency. Simultaneously released from prison, Tymoshenko then appeared at the Maidan to address a huge crowd. Deputy leader Oleksandr Turchynov was named acting president – something which Yanukovych denounced as unconstitutional – while on February 24 charges of mass murder were laid against him in connection with protester deaths, leading to an arrest warrant being issued.
The Ukrainian economy was already faring poorly before the Maidan movement began, and as power changed hands, the hryvnya plummeted to unprecedented lows. Standard & Poor’s responded with a downgrade of the nation’s financial outlook and reduction of its debt rating. In an effort to stabilise the situation, the International Monetary Fund intervened, leading to Arseniy Yatsenyuk – leader of Fatherland – being appointed prime minister. To ensure further stability, early presidential elections were scheduled for May 2014. Nonetheless Yanukovych made an appearance in Rostov-na-Donu on February 28 and addressed his constituency in Russian; obstinately claiming that he remained Ukraine’s legitimate president.
Crimea and eastern Ukraine’s crisis
Crimea was invaded and annexed by the Russians
In Crimea, pro-Russian protesters became increasingly assertive, with groups of unidentified armed men surrounding airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol. The Crimean parliament building was subsequently occupied by masked gunmen who raised the Russian flag, leading to the dismissal of the sitting government and the installation of Sergey Aksyonov – leader of the Russian Unity Party – as Crimea’s prime minister. Connections between Crimea and Ukraine were cut off, while Russia admitted that it had moved troops into the region. Ukrainian president Turchynov condemned this action as a provocation and violation of Ukrainian sovereignty; however, Vladimir Putin defended it as an effort to protect Russians in Crimea. Following this event, Aksyonov made claims that he was now in control of Ukrainian police and military forces stationed there.
On March 6 the Crimean parliament voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, with a referendum on its legality set for March 16. The move was met with support from Russia, but drew mass criticism in the West. Kyiv declared that Crimea was an integral part of Ukraine, yet the polling day on the 16th saw numerous irregularities like armed personnel being present outside stations, and resulted in 97 percent affirming it would join Russia. As a result, America and Europe implemented asset freezes and travel bans on Russian figures related to the situation. On March 18, Putin signed a treaty alongside regional representatives that allowed Crimea to become part of Russia. Western governments were adamant in their disapproval of this agreement. Within hours of signing it, a Ukrainian soldier sadly lost their life when masked gunmen attacked a Ukrainian base near Simferopol. Later, Russian troops occupied other bases in the peninsula; including Sevastopol’s Ukrainian naval headquarters – causing Ukraine to be forced into relocating 25000 military staff and associated family members away from Crimea. On March 21 after passing through parliamentary ratification in Russia, Putin signed it off as law – making Crimean annexation to be formally integrated into its nation.
As the world watched on, Yatsenyuk sought a bailout from the IMF to cover Ukraine’s $35 billion in unmet needs. Meeting with EU members in Brussels, Yatsenyuk proceeded to sign a section of the association agreement which had been denied by Yanukovych back in November 2013. The IMF later suggested an $18 billion loan pending upon Ukraine’s implementation of austerity measures such as devaluation of the hryvnya and restricting state subsidies for cheaper gas.
Russia further tightened its grip on Crimea, by rescinding a 2010 treaty that had given it an extension on the port of Sevastopol lease in exchange for a discounted price on natural gas. Not long after, Ukraine were subject to the consequences of an 80-percent surge in gas prices imposed by Russia. Russian officials insisted publicly that they had no intention of taking any more Ukrainian land. However, several weeks later, according to NATO sources, around 40,000 Russian troops had congregated at Ukraine’s borders, prepared for battle. Then came a series of takeovers conducted by unidentified soldiers using Russian military equipment with no insignia stitched onto their uniforms and displaying expert efficiency – similar to what happened in Crimea – in Donetsk, Luhansk, Horlivka, Kramatorsk and Kharkiv (where the intruders mistakenly assumed an opera house was actually city hall). A violent confrontation also took place at Slov’yansk in Donets Basin as regiments loyal to Russia captured important buildings and set up blockades.
Turchynov set a time limit for the occupants of the buildings, offering them amnesty if they agreed to surrender but additionally warning of armed confrontation should they not comply. When that time ran out unhindered, those occupying the structures maintained their ground and Turchynov, in response, requested the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces to the east of Ukraine in order to commence regaining control. In addition to this, he expressed his agreement with one major demand of the pro-Russian group: holding a public referendum on changing Ukraine into a federation – which would allow regional autonomy. On April 15th Ukrainian forces recaptured Kramatorsk airfield however the following day an operation to resume order in Slov’yansk was disrupted when Ukrainian troops yielded six armoured personnel carriers to pro-Russian militiamen. Then during negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, US and EU in Geneva, Ukrainian soldiers combatted an attack by pro-Russian gunmen which suggested casualties among the militia.
Despite an intention to defuse the situation in eastern Ukraine, Russia began military exercises on its side of the border and pro-Russian militants increased their control, seizing more government buildings and setting up armed checkpoints. As a result, Volodymyr Rybak, a parliamentarian for Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party, was kidnapped and killed by a pro-Russian militia. Later, eight OSCE mission members, Ukrainian and foreign reporters as well as Ukrainian police forces were taken hostage. Subsequently, the US and EU imposed sanctions against Russia. Gennady Kernes who had switched from supporting Russian intervention to backing a unified Ukraine was shot in Kharkiv. In response, on May 2 the Ukrainian troops attacked pro-Russian factions in Slov’yansk where they reportedly killed or detained several individuals while losing two helicopters. On the same day Odessa experienced disturbing events when dozens of pro-Russians died in an inferno following unrest.
On May 9th, Victory Day was commemorated by a trip to Crimea and a fleet review by Putin. The Council for Civil Society and Human Rights had previously issued a report that challenged official results of the referendum held on March 16th, suggesting voter turnout was actually between 30 and 50 percent with over half favoring annexation. Meanwhile, self-proclaimed separatist governments in Luhansk and Donetsk moved forward with a planned referendum for independence which was labeled as a “farce” by Kiev and widely denounced in the West. Reports suggested irregularities such as masked gunmen overseeing polling stations, frequent occurrences of multiple voting and pre-filled ballots being taken from separatists in Slov’yansk by Ukrainian police. Despite not recognizing the referenda’s results favouring independence, Putin declared he respected the will of the voters while also calling for negotiations. European Union responded with further sanctions against Russian individuals and companies.
Fighting between insurgent forces and the authorities went on in the east while other regions of the country got ready for presidential elections on May 25. Voting was seriously hindered in certain areas like Luhansk and Donetsk, with pro-Russian militia taking control of ballot boxes, yet turnout remained strong all over Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko emerged victorious by a great margin, with 50% of the vote needed for an outright victory secured in the first round. Yulia Tymoshenko followed a considerable way behind at 13%, while contenders from Svoboda and Right Sector only managed 1%. Following Poroshenko’s election, severe clashes broke out again in eastern Ukraine, with numerous separatists killed during a battle around Donetsk airport and a military helicopter shot down outside Slovyansk which lead to fatalities of all fourteen people on board.
After being sworn in as President on June 7, Poroshenko immediately proposed a plan to bring peace to the separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine. Unfortunately, fighting continued and tanks from Soviet-era appeared around towns near the Russian border, resulting in Russia being held responsible for directly supporting the rebels. On June 14, government forces retook the city of Mariupol, yet suffered a major loss when a transport plane carrying 49 people was shot down in Luhansk by rebels. Consequently, Poroshenko declared a temporary ceasefire and amnesty for separatists who put down their arms. Former president Kuchma was sent to negotiate with rebel leaders and they accepted the cease-fire. Putin, wishing to help normalize matters in eastern Ukraine, revoked his prior order that allowed Russian troops on Ukrainian soil during the annexation of Crimea. Finally on June 27th Poroshenko signed an EU association agreement committing closer ties to Europe despite strong objections from Russia.
In the following weeks, Ukrainian forces recaptured Slov’yansk and Kramatorsk, reflecting their success against the rebels. However, separatist militias moved to more advanced weaponry, leading to 19 Ukrainian soldiers killed and numerous casualties in an artillery barrage attack in the east. Subsequently, Ukrainian forces deployed attack aircraft and pro-Russian forces strengthened their air defense tactics. On July 14th a transport plane was hit at an altitude of 6100 metres, higher than that which separatists had been able to achieve before. On July 16th a fighter jet was downed 20 kilometres from the Russian border; Ukraine accused Russia of involvement in both cases.
The grim reality of civilian casualties from the conflict in Donetsk rose on July 17, when a Malaysia Airlines 777 with 298 passengers aboard was shot down by an air-to-surface missile. Both Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces hastened to distance themselves from the disaster, which was verified by U.S. intelligence sources as they began their investigation. However, the task of gathering evidence and remains was made difficult due to pro-Russian forces’ control over the crash site; it took many days before most of the bodies were recovered.
International focus was centred on the crash, resulting in the government in Kyiv becoming inactive. Svoboda and UDAR withdrew their support from the ruling coalition, leading Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to express his disappointment with legislative progress and tender his resignation. However, parliament declined Yatsenyuk’s departure following agreement of proposed budget revisions. President Poroshenko still sought early elections for October 2014. To the east, Ukrainian forces made progress at reclaiming separatist-controlled areas; closing on Donetsk and Luhansk strongholds. Despite Russia’s continued denial of involvement in the conflict, they admitted a squad of Russian parachutists were detained while inside Ukraine. Video interviews were conducted by Ukrainian authorities and then released, with Russian military officials elucidating that such entry was unintentional.
Putin, Lukashenka, and Poroshenko
In late August, Ukrainian government forces encountered a swift and dramatic shift in the conflict when rebel fighters launched a southern offensive, taking control of Novoazovs’k and putting the important port of Mariupol at risk. President Poroshenko announced that Russian troops had infiltrated Ukraine, with NATO sources estimating that around 1,000 personnel were engaged in the clash. To quell the hostilities, Ukraine and Russia alongside separatist powers convened in Minsk on September 5 and approved a cease-fire that did not end the violence completely. Poroshenko then introduced a plan of political and economic reforms meant to ready Ukraine for EU membership in 2020; these proposals found support among voters when pro-Western parties won the October 26 early parliamentary elections.
On November 2 separatist militia held elections in Donetsk and Luhansk in defiance of the Minsk cease-fire agreement. Ukrainian and Western authorities rejected the outcome, which unsurprisingly favoured separatist candidates, while Russia initially stated that it would recognize them but later changed their stance to “respect” them. In response, Poroshenko declared his intent to revoke an agreement granting greater autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk. This sparked violence that had risen back up to its previous levels by year’s end. According to a United Nations report in January 2015, over 5,000 people had been killed since the eruption of hostilities; both sides having disregarded the cease-fire agreement. The Russian economy was suffering from a combination of Western sanctions and low oil prices yet advanced military hardware from Russia still reached eastern Ukraine as separatist forces drove out government troops. In late January they seized control of the highly contested Donetsk airport – nothing more than rubble after months of combat – before intensifying their campaign on Debaltseve, a town held by the Ukrainian government. Many civilians were killed in shelling across the warzone including 30 people in a rocket attack on Mariupol by separatists. At this point world leaders called for diplomatic intervention to resolve the crisis.
On February 12, 2015, leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany agreed on a 12-point peace plan intended to deal with issues such as the halting of fighting, withdrawal of heavy weaponry, emancipation of captives and expulsion of foreign forces from Ukrainian soil. The agreement was respected for a while but violated frequently in the future; this led to over 9,000 fatalities and up to 20,000 injured by the conclusion of the year. Russian human rights organizations report that by April 2014 at least 2,000 Russian servicemen had perished in combat operations. Despite this evidence Moscow continues to deny its involvement in the conflict and President Putin passed a law prohibiting disclosure of the death toll of Russians during “special operations” in May 2015.
As the situation in the east remained unsettled, many Ukrainians were frustrated by the slow progress of political and economic reform. Despite his pledges for transparency and actions against endemic corruption, President Poroshenko could not point to any significant accomplishments. In 2015, he chose former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili to be governor of the Odessa region; however, this move was met with resistance from Kyiv as powerful forces pitted anti-corruption activists against those aligned with the country’s oligarchs. In February 2016 Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk narrowly won a vote of no confidence, but he eventually resigned four months later. Then Poroshenko swiftly appointed his ally Volodymyr Groysman as head of government; however, Groysman faced scrutiny due to his use of offshore tax havens while serving as president. The publication of documents from Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca unveiled a vast international money-laundering and tax evasion ring which included notable politicians from around the world. Poroshenko denied any involvement in such activities, insisting that he had always obeyed the law.
Poroshenko’s public approval rating was waning close to the 2019 presidential election, however it experienced an improvement following two instances in late 2018. In November Russian forces opened fire on Ukrainian ships and seized them with their crews in the Kerch Strait. This prompted the declaration of martial law in 10 regions; the first time since Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union to do so. Ukraine then petitioned to the United Nations, which ultimately passed a resolution asking Russia to remove its forces from Crimea and end all occupation of Ukrainian land, but this went unheeded. However, this confrontation lent support to Poroshenko’s reelection campaign slogan: “Army, language, faith”.
For his pre-election policy initiative, Poroshenko focused on the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The churches of Ukraine had been under Moscow’s jurisdiction since the 17th century, but in December 2018 Poroshenko and Orthodox leaders declared a break with the Russian capital. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I then confirmed the church’s autocephalous (self-governing) status in January 2019; in response to this move, the Russian Orthodox Church had already broken ties with Constantinople and the ecumenical patriarchate.
Zelensky’s presidency and Russian aggression
Poroshenko had sought to guide public discourse in the lead up to the 2019 presidential elections, but allegations of corruption and economic concerns remained paramount for voters. Initially, it seemed that the same two candidates – he and Tymoshenko – would be clashing again, but that all changed when Volodymyr Zelensky emerged as a political newbie. A star on television who had played the President of Ukraine in a serious comedy show, Zelensky made the most of his immense online reach to launch a crusade against malpractice in government.
Volodymyr Zelensky became president of Ukraine in what way?
Find out how Volodymyr Zelensky became Ukraine’s president.
On March 31, 2019, Zelensky won the first round of polls with over 30 percent of the vote, with Poroshenko taking second place at 16 percent. The second round took place on April 21, where Zelensky made a massive victory with 73 percent of ballots in his favor. After conceding defeat, Poroshenko promised that his involvement in politics was not yet over. However, Zelensky declared that his initial focus as president will be to create a permanent truce within eastern Ukraine. Subsequently he was sworn into office on May 20, and announced in his inauguration speech that parliament would be dissolved and snap legislative elections were to take place. On July 21, these elections resulted in a full majority for Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
This vote of confidence in Zelensky provided him with the necessary wiggle room to broker a peace agreement that would result in Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed militias retreating from the disputed zone in eastern Ukraine. Critics felt this was an unfortunate surrender that served only to give Moscow’s encroachment into the Donets Basin and Crimea a stamp of approval, but the majority still stood by Zelensky despite their fatigue over the conflict. As he endeavoured to address both internal and external issues affecting his country, Zelensky soon found himself mired in a political firestorm in America.
COVID-19 pandemic and the Zelensky-Trump phone call
In July 2019, Pres. Trump put a halt to the $400 million in military aid that Congress had approved for Ukraine. The president asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to dig into information involving Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and son of one of his political rivals, who had previously served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine. A month later, the funds were released but by then, Democrats in Congress had started investigating whether it was an attempt by Trump to exert pressure on Ukraine. Eventually this lead to an investigation into Trump for impeachment in September 2019, although he was found innocent with a largely partisan vote from the Senate. In response to this, Trump purged many senior government and security officials whom he felt were not devoted to him; Lieut. Col. Alexander Vindman was fired and the role of U.S Ambassador to Ukraine remained vacant until after Trump left office.
From the start of 2020, Ukraine was affected heavily by the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Businesses closed and the Ukrainian economy suffered. The conflict in the Donbas was especially detrimental, since destruction to infrastructure resulted in water supply issues. In response to this, Zelensky established a plan to tackle COVID-19, yet this provoked backlash from politicians who advocated decentralization reforms made in 2014. This dispute would impact regional elections that October. Local parties were triumphant while Servant of the People party and other national organizations performed badly. This mirrored an overall drop in Zelensky’s popularity and inability to deliver on his reform promises. Though he did pass a law aimed at limiting oligarchy power, tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated and soon became one of the major international security problems since the Cold War ended.
Ukraine’s invasion by the Russians
Kyiv and the Russian buildup
During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky
From October to November 2021, Russia began accumulating troops and military assets on its border with Ukraine. In the following months, these forces were also sent to Belarus (ostensibly for joint exercises with Belarusian personnel), Transdniestria in Moldova and Russian-occupied Crimea. By February 2022, Western defense experts calculated up to 190,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine and cautioned of a possible Russian intrusion. Putin denied these allegations and declared that the simultaneous buildup of Russian ships in the Black Sea was part of an already announced exercise. As Western leaders consulted both Zelensky and Putin to avert an apparently inevitable Russian attack, Putin issued requirements such as allowing him almost absolute veto power over NATO augmentation and restraining NATO forces to pre-1997 members only; something which was immediately dismissed. This would ultimately strip eastern and southern European countries as well as the Baltic states from the NATO security shield.
On February 21, 2022, Putin took the initiative by recognizing the independence of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. He then ordered Russian troops into Ukrainian territory as “peacekeepers,” thus making Russian military activity in the Donbas—which had been ongoing since 2014 but denied by Moscow—overt. Subsequently, Western leaders expressed their solidarity with Ukraine and imposed a series of sanctions against Russian financial institutions. In reaction to this, Zelensky addressed Russia’s people in an attempt to appeal for peace yet warning that Ukraine would defend itself if necessary. Shortly before 6:00 AM Moscow time on February 24th, Putin announced the start of a “special military operation” – moments later explosions rang out across multiple Ukrainian cities and air raid sirens were sounded in Kyiv. International leaders roundly denounced the aggression and promised swift repercussions with regards to Russia. As an answer to this, Zelensky declared martial law and demanded a general military mobilization of the country’s eligible population.
It is evident that the plan of Putin was to take control of Kyiv on an accelerated timetable, and appoint a government with pro-Moscow leanings. At dawn, a Russian elite paratroop unit took Hostomel Airport, just 10 km from the Ukrainian capital. As part of the scheme of overtaking Kyiv, troops from Belarus crossed the border and seized Chernobyl nuclear plant. On 2nd March, Russian forces in Crimea marched north and occupied Kherson, yet their advancement soon halted due to strong resistance from Ukraine. The encircling of Kharkiv was unsuccessful despite its place just 32km away from Russian borders and similarly the march towards Kyiv fizzled out because of the Ukrainian battle front and lack of proper logistics on Russia’s side.
Russian war crimes and the Ukrainian refugee crisis
Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homeland in the wake of Russia’s ruthless targeting of civilians with airstrikes and artillery strikes. On March 16, a Russian airstrike destroyed Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre in Mariupol, killing up to 600 people who had taken refuge there. The set designer had written ‘CHILDREN’ on the ground in huge Cyrillic letters, easily visible even from satellite imagery – proof that it was being used as a bomb shelter. By the end of March, roughly 4 million fleeing Ukrainians had found safety in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, making it Europe’s most serious refugee crisis since World War II.
It was indisputable that the Russian offensive against Kyiv had been a severe failure. Paratroopers in Hostomel were isolated and heavily barraged by Ukrainian artillery fire, while troops at Irpin and Bucha were accused of committing war crimes including murder, torture and destruction of civilian infrastructure in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Moreover, looting of homes and businesses was rampant in Russian-held areas. Mass graves with victims showing signs of torture were discovered after the Russians retreated from Irpin and Bucha. These atrocities stand testament to the utter failure of the offensive.
Aid from the West, the sinking of the Moskva, and the fall of Mariupol
The Russian military had a great advantage in both personnel and matériel, yet the West responded with billions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine. Zelensky, wearing his famous olive drab T-shirt, pleaded for international support through video calls against a possible “Iron Curtain” descending on Europe. The Ukrainian defenders had received field experience while fighting Russian proxies since 2014. Ukraine also underwent extensive military reforms and increased defence spending. Zelensky ordered an overhaul of Ukroboronprom, the state-owned company controlling Ukraine’s defence industry, which led to strategic partnerships with international firms like Lockheed Martin and drew renewed confidence in Ukroboronprom. On April 13th, the Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missiles hit and sunk the Moskva, flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. This victory provided a massive morale boost for Ukraine and proved that Russia is no match for America as a near-peer adversary.
In May the violence in Donbas intensified prompting Ukraine to launch a counter attack, pushing back Russian forces that had been menacing Kharkiv. Mariupol eventually capitulated to Russians after a three-month siege which reduced the prosperous port town to ruins. The last defenders consisting of national guard and marines held out at the Azovstal steel plant for more than a month, drawing comparisons to the Battle of Stalingrad. Ukrainian officials stipulated approximately twenty thousand citizens died in the city with ninety percent of buildings being damaged or destroyed during the campaign.
A variety of conditions made attrition warfare in the Donbas necessary for Russia. The Kyiv offensive showed that their armour was unable to carry out even a rudimentary maneuver campaign as it was too reliant on roads, and its fuel and ammo required a tenuous supply line. Moreover, Russian tanks were not immune to Ukrainian ATGMs. The Russian air force could not gain air control over any important battlefields either; thus, their tanks were at the mercy of Ukraine’s huge number of drones, from improvised consumer models that deployed bombs to advanced Turkish Bayraktar TB2s. Additionally, due to a global embargo on advanced processors directed at Russia, lost computerized tech was very hard to replace.
Putin’s “special military operation” was unsuccessful against Ukraine; it cost the lives of numerous Russian generals and led to the sinking of the Moskva, the largest ship lost to enemy action since 1982 when the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was torpedoed in the Falkland Islands War. Russia faced unprecedented sanctions and found itself largely isolated from international banks as well as from airspace closures from Europe, America, Britain and Canada. Ukraine, however, was viewed favorably by countries of the West for its efforts to stand up against an oppressive neighbor. On June 23rd, Ukraine received candidate status for EU membership and NATO found a renewed purpose through Russian aggression in the Baltics which sparked Finland and Sweden to join. On July 5th both countries signed accession protocols transforming the Baltic Sea into a NATO lake.