The Ukrainian-Russian conflict has taken an escalating course, with the Russian President Putin taking to the airwaves in early 2022 to announce a special military operation. Western leaders immediately condemned the unprovoked attack and pledged swift and severe sanctions against Russia.
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine became a top priority for European Union (EU) officials. EU members backed Kyiv and promised financial assistance, including billions in military aid.
NATO, too, offered Ukraine a path to membership. The alliance formally recognized Ukraine’s European perspective in a June summit.
At the same time, some Western allies remained resolutely silent or declined to offer Kyiv a membership path. Nevertheless, NATO would provide Ukraine with ongoing support in the fight against Russian aggression and help in building a modern and robust military to deter a future Russian attack on Kyiv.
The Battle of Donbas and Crimea
In February 2022, Putin launched an all-out invasion of Ukrainian territory, crossing into the country from the south (Crimea), east (Russia), and north (Belarus). The broad goals were to “de-Nazify” and “de-militarize” Ukraine and depose its government.
During the first month of the war, Ukraine’s army, supported by foreign armies, fought a brutal offensive to drive back Russian paratroopers from Hostomel, Irpin, and Bucha. They also uncovered mass graves, bodies with clear signs of torture, and other evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces in the front lines.
Even after the fighting ended, Russian forces continued to occupy part of Crimea. The armed men, dubbed “little green men” for their lack of insignia on their uniforms, took over parliament buildings and other government facilities in the autonomous republic of Simferopol. The city’s port, Sevastopol, is home to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation.