Written By: Thomas d’Esperies
One year after Vladimir Putin’s “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine meant to protect the ‘eight year oppressed Russian-speakers in the Donbas region,’ and the only people being oppressed are Russians speaking out against the War.
On February 24, 2022, Russian troops, who had been amassing on the Russo-Ukrainian border for weeks prior, began their unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation, marking one of Europe’s biggest conflicts of the Post-World War II era. The invasion followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states just days prior on February 21.
Though Putin maintained that his invasion was only a “Special Military Operation,” calling it a war for the first time on December 22, 2022, his declaration of war on 24 February stated that there was ‘No other option’ and his decision was caused by fundamental threats “offensively unceremoniously created by irresponsible politicians in the West.”
Just days into the war, Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov predicted that the war would come to a swift and triumphant end. Instead, Russian forces have again and again been embarrassed and the fighting spirits of the Ukrainian people have been admired around the world.
The U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that 250,000 Russians have become casualties since last February with 60,000 to 70,000 being killed or missing. Additionally, multiple sources reported that just two months into the invasion, Russian losses in Ukraine already surpassed losses suffered in the nine-year Afghan War in the 1980s.
Heavy fighting has occurred, mostly in border and breakaway regions with some sporadic fighting in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Despite this, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government have refused to leave the country. Though a few battles have been ongoing since the first days of the invasion, Ukraine, the 15th strongest military according to Global Firepower, is fairly evenly matched with Russia, who is considered the second strongest.
The most concerning development came on September 30, 2022 when the Russian Federation illegally annexed the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk, mirroring their illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
At the time this article was written, Ukrainian forces had refused to withdraw from Bakhmut with President Zelensky firmly vowing to hold the city and reinforce its defense. A stark contrast from reports published the week prior where a close advisor of the President said Ukrainian troops might fall back to nearby positions. On Friday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing him of war crimes. With the ICC not being a police force, it relies on different nations to conduct its policing. Given this, many experts believe it is unlikely that the warrant will be carried out but, it does make Putin’s world a little smaller.