War between Russia and Ukraine: causes and consequences

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A War between Russia and Ukraine It is a conflict that takes place in Least of the european continent. After a long period marked by heightened tensions between the two, Russian troops invaded the neighboring country on February 24 2022, promoting attacks on cities located near the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, and other strategic points in the territory Ukrainian. The counterattack carried out by Ukraine in mid-2022 caused Russia to retreat at some points, but the country still maintains dominance over large areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Just over a year after the start of the war, the attacks continue. The balance so far is tens of thousands of dead and wounded, in addition to 8 million Ukrainian refugees, who seek protection in other European countries. The consequences of war are also economic and political. In a global context, conflict interferes with geopolitics, diplomatic agreements and international trade.

Read too:World War III—What Would the Consequences Be?

Summary of the War between Russia and Ukraine

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  • The war between Russia and Ukraine started on February 24, 2022, when Russian troops invaded the ukrainian territory.

  • In the recent historical period, tensions between the countries escalated from 2014, with the annexation of Crimea to the territory of Russia and the action of separatist groups in the Donbass region, in the east of Ukraine.

  • The possible entry of Ukraine into North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is pointed out as one of the main reasons for the war, but it is not the only one.

  • The justification for the demilitarization of Ukraine, on the part of the Russian president, is also another cause of the conflict.

  • The conflicts take place on Ukrainian territory, invaded by hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers in early 2022.

  • Cities close to Kyiv were attacked before the capital. Russia also carried out offensives in eastern and southern Ukraine, strategic regions for the country.

  • After a year of conflict, new missile attacks are being recorded in several cities in Ukraine, including the capital.

  • Thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, died as a result of the war.

  • More than 8 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in other European nations, while approximately 6 million are looking for places to shelter within Ukraine.

Video lesson on the War between Russia and Ukraine

Historical Context of the War between Russia and Ukraine

A GWar between Russia and Ukraine broke out on February 24, 2022, a few months after the intensification of tensions in the border region between these countries. In order to understand the causes that led to the conflict and the reasons given by the parties for the attacks promoted, it is expected to understand a little of how the relationship between the two nations was in the past historic.

You russian territories and Ukrainian are part of the region known as Eastern Europe, which has similarities in economic, sociocultural and ethnic aspects. Both countries were initially occupied by Slavic peoples, also known as the Rus. In addition, before its creation, a portion of Russia, Ukraine and also Belarus formed the territory of Kievan Rus, or Kievan Rus', between the 9th and 13th centuries.

During the 18th century, a part of Ukraine was incorporated into the Russian Empire.. This movement was repeated during the 20th century, in the Bolshevik Revolution, which marked the end of the monarchical system in Russia and the rise of socialists to power in 1917. Five years later, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), of which several territories of Eastern Europe became part, which included most of the territory of Ukraine. The country became independent only in 1991, the year in which the dissolution of the USSR took place.

In the meantime, it is important to shed light on the crimean question. Crimea is a peninsula located south of Ukraine and southwest of Russian territory, bordering the Black Sea. This region is connected to the Sea of ​​Azov, and its strategic character, both military and commercial, has made it the focus of many territorial disputes throughout history.

Map shows the border between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the regions disputed by these countries (Donbass and Crimea).
Crimea and Donbas are areas that have been at the center of the most recent disputes between Russia and Ukraine.

A Russia has exercised dominance over Crimea at different times, and, in 1954, the territory was ceded by the Soviet Union to Ukraine as a symbolic and strategic gesture of fraternal ties between the countries. With the end of the USSR, the Budapest Memorandum (1994) ensured the Ukrainian territorial limits and the maintenance of Crimea as part of its territory. The situation of apparent stability did not last long, and a crisis settled in the region from 2010 onwards.

The negotiations for Ukraine's entry into the European Union began a period of great internal political turmoil and regional geopolitical tensions that escalated with the invasion and Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, justified the measure with the fact that the majority of the population that lives in Crimea is of Russian origin, but even so, there was no recognition from the community International.

Also in 2014, the Donbass region was the scene of conflicts between Ukraine and separatist groups, which, politically aligned with Russia, declared the independence of the administrative regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. Like Crimea, Donbass has a majority population of ethnic Russian descent, and has become a hotly targeted area for Russia during the current conflict with Ukraine. By the way, Russia is the only nation that recognizes the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Causes of War between Russia and Ukraine

The context of tensions between Russia and Ukraine helps us understand the origin of the disputes between the countries, including the war that has lasted for over a year. One of the main causes pointed out for its outbreak was the resumption of negotiations for Ukraine to become a NATO member.

 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky during the 2019 NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting.[2]

Remembering, NATO is an international organization created during the Cold War with the initial objective of containing the advance of socialism in the countries of Western Europe. With the end of the Soviet Union, the organization began to focus on political-military cooperation and mutual defense of its member countries. NATO members include Western European nations, the United States and 14 Eastern European countries.

Ukraine's admission to NATO, in Russia's view, would represent the advancement of Western ideals over Eastern European countries that still resisted it. Furthermore, it would be a direct threat to the integrity of Russian territory, given that the Ukrainian border with Russia is the longest among the European countries with which it borders. Thus, the invasion of Ukraine would be a way of demonstrating that Russia maintains its power and influence in the region.

O Russia's recognition of the independence of the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk it is also the cause of war. As we have seen, there is a strong presence of Russian population in these areas, and the president vladimir putin claims that these measures are ways to protect this population from Ukraine's offensives. On the day the war broke out and shortly after recognizing the eastern Ukrainian region as independent, Putin declared that his aim was to “demilitarize and denazify” the neighboring country.

It is also pointed out as a reason for the war, the President Vladimir Putin's Decline in Popularity due to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic in Russia. Between 2020 and 2021, Putin's popularity rate fell due to the alarming growth in cases of the disease in the country and the worsening of the economic problems he was experiencing. The invasion of Ukraine would be a way to conquer, again, the Russians' positive view of the president.

Read too: Volodymir Zelensky — the leader of Ukrainians in the war against Russia

Highlights of the War between Russia and Ukraine

The war between Russia and Ukraine officially started on February 24, 2022, when more than 200,000 Russian soldiers invaded Ukrainian territory on several fronts. Since then, conflict analysis has been done by dividing its timeline into phases.|1|

  • 1st phase (February 24, 2022 to early June): was marked by the invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russian troops. Several regions of the country were taken, especially the cities to the east and on the border between the territories involved. At first, the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was not directly attacked.

    • Bombings were carried out in various parts of Ukraine, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities among civilians and soldiers. Some cities close to Kyiv were attacked, as a way to encircle the capital.

    • The city of Bucha, which is 60 km northwest of Kyiv, was the target of a very violent offensive by Russian soldiers. Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were killed in the streets. The most recent data point to 400 fatalities, but the numbers are not definitive.

Mariupol, a city located in southern Ukraine and bathed by the Sea of ​​Azov, was initially besieged and attacked.

Recorded destruction on the road connecting the cities of Irpin and Bucha, near Kyiv, in the War between Russia and Ukraine.[3]
Recorded destruction on the road connecting the cities of Irpin and Bucha, near Kyiv, in the War between Russia and Ukraine.[3]
  • 2nd phase (June to August): there was a withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv region, with offensives and bombings now concentrated in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbass region. However, the Russians were surprised by the counterattack promoted by Ukraine as a way to defend their territories.
    • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was occupied by Russian troops. Shortly afterwards, the power plant was shut down after an intense missile attack suffered by the country in several cities. There was a fear of repeating a event like the Chernobyl accident, which happened in 1986 and affected Belarus and Ukraine.

  • 3rd phase (September to November): Ukraine's defensiveness allowed the country to gain areas in the east and south that were under Russian rule, including the city of Kherson and the region to the northeast near Kharkiv. The stalemate over declared independent regions continues, and Russia maintains military dominance over most of eastern Ukraine.

    • A strong explosion damaged the structure of the only bridge that connects Russia and Crimea, located in the Kerch Strait. Ukraine took no responsibility for what happened, and Russia tightened security in the region.

  • Current phase, started in November 2022: attacks were carried out on electricity generating plants in Ukraine, with an estimate that at least a third of them were destroyed. In addition to the isolated losses resulting from the lack of electricity, the situation became worrying with the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

    • New missile attacks were promoted by Russia in March 2023. The offensive hit cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr and Odessa, and the attacks led, once again, to the interruption of the activities of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. During the conflict, the plant stopped at least six different times.|2|

Consequences of the War between Russia and Ukraine

Ukrainians seeking refuge because of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
As a result of the war, more than 8 million Ukrainians seek refuge in other countries in Europe.[4]

The war between Russia and Ukraine brought consequences for the countries involved and for the international community, affecting the political, economic and social spheres. See below the main impacts generated by the conflict.

  • Ukraine accounts for 8,000 civilians killed and more than 13,000 wounded since the start of the war. The number of fatalities among the Ukrainian military ranges from 10,000 to 13,000.

  • Approximately 15,000 Russian soldiers were killed and another 100,000 are wounded.

  • You refugees Ukrainians seeking shelter in other countries number more than 8 million people. Among their main destinations are Poland, Belarus, Moldova, Czechia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.

  • Within Ukraine there are 6.6 million internally displaced persons, who seek shelter in areas other than where they live.

  • Imposition of economic sanctions against Russia, affecting sectors such as the export of natural gas and oil. Sanctions came mainly from European countries.

  • Increasing poverty of the Ukrainian population and shrinking national economy of Ukraine.

  • Increased economic deficit in Russia.

  • Diplomatic isolation from Russia, which has less and less support in the international community.

  • Higher prices for fuel and food around the world, given that countries involved in the conflict are major producers and exporters of fossil fuels and grains, like wheat. More recently, however, the price of some foodstuffs has fallen.

  • Military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine from different countries. The United States tops the list of provided values, especially in the military apparatus. Following are the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Poland.


|1| The timeline and events presented are based on the report: LADEIRA, Sávio. 1 year of war in Ukraine: understand the different phases of the Russian invasion. G1, 24 Feb. 2023. Available here.

|2| ESSAY. War in Ukraine: UN warning after Russian strikes leave Europe's biggest nuclear plant without power. BBC News Brazil, 09 Mar. 2023. Available here.

image credits

[1] Kutsenko Volodymyr / Shutterstock

[2] Sergei Chuzavkov / Shutterstock

[3] kibri_ho / Shutterstock

[4] Bumble Dee / Shutterstock

By Paloma Guitarrara
Geography Teacher

Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/geografia/guerra-entre-russia-e-ucrania.htm


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