Western Nations Unite in Strict Sanctions Against Russia

With tensions rising between Russia and Ukraine, other countries have been hesitant to become involved.

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Image/Graphics by NARA & DVIDS Public Domain Archive

Ukrainian soldiers line up to complete a training exercise at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center.

With the recent events happening in Ukraine, it is important to know the history between these two countries that lead up to the moment that the Russian Federation decided to invade Ukraine. When the two countries were in the Soviet Union, and after the fall, they have always been considered “brother countries” with similar backgrounds and histories. In 2014, the Ukrainian people outed a Pro-Russian President and government in what is called the Revolution of Dignity. During those events, Russia invaded the territory of Crimea and annexed it, whilst supporting Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, where fighting continued between the Russian-backed separatists and Ukraines. With that being said, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not something new, but something that Ukrainians knew would come one day. The buildup of Russian forces on the border of Ukraine started back on November 7th, 2021. Then, on December 7th, 2021, the Biden Administration warned Russia that sweeping sanctions would happen if Russia invades Ukraine. Furthermore, on December 17th, 2021, Russia released detailed security demands to the West, including that NATO should stop all military activities in eastern Europe, and that they should not allow Ukraine to join the alliance of NATO, or join any other former Soviet countries that are not currently in NATO to join the alliance. On January 24th, 2022, NATO stationed military forces on standby in eastern Europe, all while some western countries evacuated non-essential embassy staff from Kyiv. Then, on February 21st, 2022, Russia recognized the Ukrainian states of Donetsk and Luhansk as sovereign. 

On February 24th, 2022, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It began in the eastern state of Donbas, where President Zelensky declared martial law within Ukraine. President Zelensky also banned men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country to aid in the effort of stopping the invading Russians from taking the country. Russia first attacked the cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, and they tried to take an airbase 20 miles from Kyiv. However, they failed once Ukrainian forces arrived to take the base back. Russian forces have also captured the Chernobyl power station, which was where the world’s worst nuclear disaster took place in 1986. Ukraine, along with other western countries, is scared that the new safe confinement zone around the sarcophagus of the damaged reactor would potentially be hit with a missile, and release even more radioactive material into the atmosphere. With tanks and other heavy armored vehicles in the area of Chernobyl, radiation levels have already been reported to have gone up slightly, due to dust being released into the air.

I need ammunition, not a ride.”

— President Zelensky

The Kremlin has released a statement on why they decided to pursue the invasion of Ukraine, stating that it was due to Ukrainian forces coming into Russia and killing innocent civilians, which in reality, never happened. President Vladimir Putin said that the goal of the invasion of Ukraine is to “denazify” the country. With that being said, President Zelensky of Ukraine is of the Jewish faith. With Russia’s advance towards the capital of Kyiv to decapitate the government, it has been slowed down by the countless Ukrainian soldiers and people fighting back against advancement. This is prominently shown by the fact that Russia has not been able to establish air superiority, and they have not been able to claim any major centers of population in the conflict yet. With intense bombings on military targets and the fears of Russians invading their towns an estimated 500,000 people have sought refuge in neighboring countries. For the people that have not been able to escape, they have sought shelter in basements, bomb shelters, subway stations, and other forms of underground areas for protection from a bomb, if it were to hit nearby. 

The Russian forces that have been advancing slowly in the country have met resistance, and it has been reported that whole squads and platoons of Russian troops have given up, surrendered, or abandoned positions. Reports say that the Kremlin never exactly told the soldiers what they were doing and that it was just a military exercise, which explains why soldiers on the Russian side are just giving up and no longer fighting in the war. Many economic sanctions, mainly from NATO and EU countries, have been put in place against Russian businesses, Russian oligarchs, and Putin himself. All major Russian banks are being sanctioned, and no longer work outside of Russia. On a historic level, a country that was neutral through both World War I and II, Switzerland has joined many countries in sanctioning Russia for the actions that have taken place. In addition, the International Court of Justices, more commonly known as the World Court, has started an investigation into possible war crimes that Russia has committed during the invasion of Ukraine. Within the city of Kharkiv, there has been video evidence of a missile hitting a residential building, as well reports of cluster munitions have struck a pre-school in northeastern Ukraine. With worries high that the unity of Ukraine may fall, many Ukrainian celebrities, such as former Miss Grand Ukraine Anastasia Lenna and Former President Petro Poroshenko, are joining in the fight against Russian forces.

The Biden Administration has asked Ukrainian President Zelensky if he’d like to be evacuated from his country, to which Zelensky replied, “I need ammunition, not a ride,” showing that Zelensky would rather die with his country than flee. With no country wanting to get in a person-to-person battle with Russia, no NATO or EU troops have been sent into Ukraine to help the efforts to repel Russia back into its own country. Putin released a statement stating that if the West intervenes, there would be “consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.