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Ukraine, with (pre-Russian invasion) occupied territory in light green.

Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна) is a nation in Eastern Europe near the ill-defined border with Asia. It is the second-largest country by area in Europe (after Russia, if Turkey is not counted). Ukraine's capital, Kyiv (or Kiev; Ukrainian: Київ), is considered the key hub of East Slavic culture.[note 1][2] Once part of the Soviet Union (declaring independence on 24 August 1991), Ukraine is a potential candidate member of the European Union (EU). However, the typical Eastern Bloc levels of corruption and economic underdevelopment would be a large hurdle, even without the internal and external political omnishambles developed in 2014.

Due to a quirk of geography, most of the natural gas that Russia sells to Europe passes through Ukraine. Sometimes Russia tries to punish Ukraine for being in arrears on their gas payments by cutting the gas flow to Ukraine. Then Ukraine makes up the shortfall from the gas that was supposed to go to Germany, forcing Russia to cut off the gas altogether in the middle of the winter. And France just laughs because 90% of its energy comes from nuclear power.

Ukraine also had the dubious distinction of redoing its 2005 presidential election because of widespread fraud; during this campaign, the eventual winner, Viktor Yushchenko, suffered one of the most acute cases of dioxin poisoning ever recorded. Russia was the most likely culprit in the assassination attempt.[3]

Since 2014, major portions of the country have been under illegal military occupation by Russia.[4] These areas include the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the illegally annexed "Republic of Crimea" and parts of Donetsk Oblast and the Luhansk Oblast as Russia's former puppet states of "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic"; now annexed by Russia. This cemented Russian foothold in the country.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukrainian territory under the guise of "peacekeeping" in the separatist-held parts of Donetsk and Luhansk.[5] Russia subsequently launched a full-scale invasion of the country (which they euphemistically called 'special military operation'),[6] prompting Ukrainian citizens across multiple major cities, including Kyiv, to flee.[7] This drew condemnation by the United States and the European Union. They deemed the act an invasion and imposed severe and unprecedented sanctions, such as removing access to a major natural gas pipeline and halting global financing to two major Russian banks.[8] The act of war also drew condemnation from leaders in South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and even Hungary.[7] This also prompted anti-war protests worldwide, including in at least 47 cities in Russia, including Moscow, which has led to thousands of protestors being arrested for violating laws against spontaneous mass demonstrations.[9] The European Union sent lethal aid to Ukraine In response to the invasion and banned Russian planes within their airspace. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed an application for Ukraine to become a member of the EU.[10][11][12][13] The entire county of Ukraine is under a Level 4 Travel Advisory due to the ongoing conflict. This means that travel is extremely hazardous. The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended all flights to Ukraine for the duration of the war. [14]


Outline of Kievan Rus' in 1054

The original form of Ukraine was part of Kievan Rus'Wikipedia, the proto-state of what would become Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarussians. After the fragmentation of Kievan Rus', and especially the devastation by the Mongol invasion, Ukraine spent most of its early history contested, divided, and ruled by several regional and international powers until the Cossack Hetmanate took power and prospered through the 17th and 18th centuries until it was conquered by Poland and Tsarist Russia.

After the Russian Revolution, a Ukrainian nationalist movement for self-determination emerged, and the internationally recognized Ukrainian People's Republic was declared on 23 June 1917, before the Bolsheviks invaded in October of that same year and defeated the independence movement by 1921. The Ukrainian SSR was a founding member of the Soviet Union in 1922. The country regained its independence in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Much of modern Ukraine's borders were drawn up by the USSR. What is now Western Ukraine was part of Poland (KresyWikipedia) from 1919 to 1945, which Poland itself annexed from the short-lived Ukrainian People's RepublicWikipedia in 1918. Józef Piłsudski's Polish government unsuccessfully tried to suppress Ukrainian nationalists in the region, which resulted in retaliatory massacres of PolesWikipedia after the Nazi German occupation.

Josef Stalin caused a famine there in 1932, which killed at least 3 million Ukrainians, and after the Germans occupied the region in 1941,Wikipedia a further 5 million perished, including 1.6 million Jews. Surprisingly, it wasn't widely recognized as a genocide until 2022.

In 1954, Nikita KhrushchevWikipedia transferred CrimeaWikipedia from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, not knowing that it would cause further headaches 60 years later. Russian nationalists, especially those who supported Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014Wikipedia often make the argument that Khrushchev's transfer was a personal gesture in contravention of the then Soviet Constitution.

Ukrainian history since then was relatively uneventful until 1986, when a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl exploded. The region was quickly evacuated and remains a ghost town to this day.

After the breakup of the USSR, no one was quite sure what to do with Ukraine. In 1994, Ukraine would give up its Soviet-era stockpile of nuclear weapons for permanent peace with Russia.[15] So far, that treaty has been respected by everyone, and Ukraine has known nothing but peace.....well not really.

Euromaidan, Crimean crisis, and War in Donbas[edit]

Petro Poroshenko addresses Euromaidan
Map showing prevalence of Ukrainian as a mother tongue, according to the 2001 census. The Crimean peninsula is at the bottom right, the tiny part with 6.8% is Sevastopol. Also note the sharp uptick between oblasts such as Donetsk (24.1%) and Dnipropetrovsk (67%)[16]

Ukraine was about to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. However, Victor Yanukovych (Yushchenko's former opponent, who was elected President in 2010) canceled preparations for it on 21 November 2013, causing a wave of protests known by a Twitter hashtag, Euromaidan (a portmanteau of "Europe" and Maidan Nezalezhnosti, translated as "Independence Square," the main square of Kyiv). The situation escalated — every attempt at forcibly suppressing the protests caused them to intensify, becoming a hotbed for pro-Europeanists and nationalists alike.[17] As demonstrators occupied government buildings, clashes between protesters and riot police backed up by "Berkut" special forces led to snipers killing opposition activists.[note 2] Ultimately, Yanukovych signed a compromise deal to restore the 2004 constitution on 21 February 2014[19] (the fact that the larger Ukrainian Army refused to participate in gunning down protesters was a major factor in this decision) and then fled without formally resigning his post, leaving Chicken Kiev fans jubilant. At least until it was revealed that he'd embezzled significant amounts of money from the Ukrainian treasury and took the cash with him when he fled. He has since reappeared in Russia, maintaining that he is still the legitimate President of Ukraine and that his removal was an illegal coup d'état. You can bet some Ukrainian hryvnias (and a galleon)[20][21] what Russia's position is.

Ukraine was not undivided in its opposition to Yanukovych's government. As a general rule, the protests received more support in the western parts of Ukraine. In contrast, the more pro-Russian eastern parts, containing more ethnic Russians,[note 3] saw counter-protests supporting Yanukovych and even open calls to join Russia. One of the peaks of these sentiments was the Autonomous Republic of Crimea: its "special status" city of Sevastopol includes a major seaport and a Russian naval base.[note 4]

The situation got worse after Yanukovych's re-emergence in Russia. Inter-ethnic tensions were exacerbated by a push by the remaining Ukrainian parliament to repeal a controversial 2012 law on regional languages[note 5] that, in effect, had made Russian the official language in regions recognized as predominantly Russian. The acting President vetoed the repeal, but the damage was already done.

Vladimir Putin then ordered an invasion, with militia and soldiers seizing Crimean parliamentary buildings and installing a pro-Russian prime minister. A referendum to secede from Ukraine (widely denounced as a sham,[23] especially considering that members of the "Russian Bloc" party who were installed as the new leaders of Crimea never reached more than 3% before the Russian intervention) passed by 97% on 16 March 2014.[24] By April, separatists stirring shit up in the rest of the country were able to establish an insurgency in the easternmost oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as the Donbas); in the coastal city of Odessa, a confrontation between pro-Russian and the pro-Ukrainian activists resulted in 42 pro-Russians dying in a fire at a trade union house.[25]

On 27 June, the crisis went full circle with the newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko signing the Association Agreement (alongside Georgia and Moldova),[26] a civilian airliner was shot down, and once it was clear the Ukrainian army would succeed in a bloody summer counteroffensive, over 3,000 Russian troops moved into the Donbas on 28 August in an attempt to freeze the conflict.[27] On 26 October, the first parliamentary elections since the revolution decimated Yanukovych's Party of Regions in favor of pro-European reformers.[28]

This entire escapade doesn't really make any sense in the long term for the Kremlin (both at the cost of supplying the annexed territory and global geopolitical risks)[29][30][31], leading some to speculate that Putin may have been losing it.[32][33] Even China, when Putin desperately needed allies, had been partying[34] …ahem, notably silent.[35][36]

Rising pro-Ukrainian nationalism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Nationalism

The prospect of war against separatism increased Ukrainian nationalist sentiment, which came to a head once Petro Poroshenko became president. President Poroshenko allegedly authorized shelling of civilian targets,[37] cutting off their water and state services,[38] and blocking attempts at reform from parliament.

Poroshenko's nationalist presidency was a reaction to Russian aggression and nationalism in Eastern Ukraine, which exemplifies the problems with wars in general. They inspire extremists to take power so they can "defeat" the nation-state's enemy. Poroshenko's refusal to stop corruption and unwillingness to purge far-right Ukrainian nationalists also contributed to a massive humanitarian crisis within Ukraine.[39][40][41] There are multiple instances of beatings, abductions, and possible executions of local residents by right-wing Ukrainian troops aligned with pro-Ukrainian oligarchs like Rinat Akhmetov.[42][43][44]

Amnesty International noted that Kyiv's volunteer "territorial defense battalions", such as the Aidar Battalion,Wikipedia Donbas Battalion,Wikipedia and Azov Battalion, were increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine.[45][46] Similar concerns have been raised about Oleh LyashkoWikipedia and his militia.[47] Human Rights Watch noted that Ukrainian government forces and pro-government paramilitaries used unguided, indiscriminate Grad rockets against civilian areas. Amnesty International also dug up several incidents of summary executions by Kyiv's forces.[48][49][50][51] Poroshenko's siege tactics on insurgent areas also disproportionately affected civilians.[52][53] And the insurgents have been known to abduct and torture pro-Kyiv Ukrainians, destroy medical equipment, threaten medical staff, and occupy hospitals while taking hostages.[54] Even within Ukrainian domestic politics, Poroshenko consistently showed a distinct lack of will to crack down on oligarchs — since he is himself an oligarch.[55]

Meanwhile, the government issued bans against 41 international journalists considered pro-Russian, which inexplicably includes three BBC journalists and two Spanish journalists missing in Syria.[56] Trolls affiliated with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) harassed and sent death threats to some Ukrainian journalists accused of treason due to their attempts to cover the war on both sides.[57] Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk wasn't much better. His hard-on for austerity included eradicating education, healthcare, unemployment benefits, and social programs to enrich the oligarchs who helped fund his campaign.[58][59]

Far-right influence in the military[edit]

Although sources like the Russian propaganda site RT exaggerated the role of the far-right groups (including the Right SectorWikipedia) in the armed conflict, they have agitated the conflict unnecessarily. At the time, far-right groups may have been growing in influence with the actual Ukrainian army.[60] At one time, their activities included:

Moreover, the Ukrainian government introduced a blanket ban on Russian social networks, prompting fury among Ukrainian users and reinforcing concerns that Poroshenko was using anti-Russian rhetoric to divert attention from the country's internal problems (such as corruption, which is the government's direct fault).[64][65] In the words of Francis Malige, the Director of the European Bank for reconstruction and development in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, fighting corruption in Ukraine is like sport fishing: "caught, photographed, released".[66] Further controversy was drawn by hastily introduced decommunization laws that effectively outlawed communist symbols, parties, and expressions of support in the country, while at the same time glorifying the Ukrainian Insurgent ArmyWikipedia into becoming national heroes, despite their notorious collaboration with Nazis and massacres of ethnic Poles.Wikipedia[67] For instance, a street in Kyiv was renamed after the Ukrainian nationalist Roman ShukhevychWikipedia, a collaborator with Nazi Germany and one of the organizers of anti-Jewish and anti-Polish ethnic cleansing.[68]

President Zelenskyy's reforms and anti-corruption campaign[edit]

Zelenskyy voting in 2019

Sick of being dicked around by the major parties backed by corrupt oligarchs, in 2019, the Ukrainian people voted out Poroshenko and voted in Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Володимир Зеленський), an actor with little political experience who campaigned on the platform of anti-corruption. Before becoming the current President of Ukraine, Zelenskyy was the star of the hit TV series Servant of the People,Wikipedia which, funnily enough, is about an inexperienced teacher who unexpectedly becomes the President of Ukraine following a video railing against government corruption going viral.

Unlike Poroshenko, Zelensky has been far more hardline against the far-right and neo-Nazi elements of the military, and many oligarchs and their puppet politicians grew to hate him for his anti-corruption campaign, which, while piecemeal and struggling, had been successful in several areas, including anti-graft measures.[69][70] Zelensky signed a motion for Ukraine's parliament to dismiss Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who was known for not prosecuting corruption effectively.[71] Zelensky's party pushed for laws that reduced the dominance of Ukrainian oligarchs in the media. However, journalists felt that some of the changes allowed for loopholes that could lead to media censorship.[72][73]

In a win for his anti-corruption campaign, Zelensky succeeded in removing legal immunity for Ukrainian members of parliament, allowing them to be investigated and indicted for corruption.[74] He wanted all lawmakers, diplomats, and judges to be barred from prosecutorial immunity. Zelensky, before 2022, was pushing for a peaceful resolution to the War in Donbas, but negotiations upset many Ukrainians who wanted a harder line against the separatists.[75] When negotiations stalled, Zelensky changed course, devising a strategy for reintegrating Crimea and Sevastopol within Ukraine.[76] Americans may also know Zelensky from Donald Trump's attempts to blackmail him for dirt on Joe Biden and his son.

From comedian to war hero[edit]

But with the advent of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Zelensky became a national hero for leading his country and rallying his people against the invaders while also pushing for empathy towards the Russian people, fair treatment of Russian POWs, and defiance in the face of potential death,[77] being an assassination target of Russia.[78] Even when the Americans offered to evacuate Zelenskyy out of Kyiv, Zelensky refused, saying, "I need ammunition, not a ride."[79][80] His refusal to allow war crimes to be committed against Russian POWs also earned him high praise across the world.[81]

Cracking down on oligarchs[edit]

Riding the high of his invasion-era popularity, Zelenskyy used his wartime powers to sign a decree purging oligarchs of their influence in Ukrainian politics and society. Under the new law, an oligarch is identified as someone with "significant influence on the media; active participation in political life; must be the ultimate beneficial owner of the entity that holds a monopoly position in the market and maintain or strengthen such position for a year in a row; has a proven asset value (and the entities of which it is a beneficiary) of more than 2 billion Ukrainian hryvnias ($67,251,380)." The new law requires officials to disclose connections, outright bans oligarchs from financing political parties, political ads, or demonstrations and excludes them from the privatization of state assets.[82][83]

Russian occupied territories[edit]

In the aftermath of the 2014 Annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, two Ukrainian territorial units, known as Luhansk Oblast (or Lugansk Oblast) and Donetsk Oblast, came under siege from pro-Russian separatists. Russia sowed unrest in Ukrainian territories among ethnic Russian majority populations, taking advantage of the turmoil following Euromaidan.[84] This led to the current military occupation of southeast Ukraine. The occupation ended up expanding significantly after the Russian invasion. As an occupying power, Russia has further violated international law by forcefully depriving people of their property, shut down businesses, crushed civil liberties and removed people from their homes.[85] Conservapedia adamantly supports the Pro-Russian forces. They believe that Ukraine is ran by Nazis, the Euromaidan Revolution was a US backed coup and that a genocide is taking place in the Donbass region; all without evidence. [86]

Republic of Crimea[edit]

The flashpoint of the entire Russo-Ukrainian War began in Crimea. In February of 2014 Russia sowed unrest in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea via funding Russian separatist supporters and sending in its own troops. The Russian military and the separatist forces had spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda.[87] Putin was authorized by the Duma to deploy troops into Crimea in order to "protect ethnic Russians from fascism". Russian soldiers and Crimean Self Defense militias forcefully removed the Ukrainian loyalist government and replaced it with a Russian separatist government. The occupation administration announced a referendum asking citizens if they wanted to declare independence in order to join Russia or remain in Ukraine.[88] The referendum, called an illegitimate sham by most countries, passed by 97℅ of the votes on March 17, 2014. No outside impartial election observers had access into the occupied peninsula during the vote. On March 18 the Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence from Ukraine as the "Republic of Crimea". Putin immediately recognized the Republic of Crimea as an independent nation. The next day a treaty was signed that brought the breakaway state into the Russian Federation.[89] Under Russian occupation Crimea has become dangerously xenophobic with foreigners, especially American citizens, being targets of crime. The United States government has put the region under level 4 travel advisory due to the danger from the Russian government.[90] Despite the Autonomous Republic of Crimea becoming a police state after the annexation, there has been a dedicated pro-Ukrainian resistance group creating a major headache for the Russian occupation authorities. Their activities have involved sabotage, targeted assassinations and spying. Their activities have ramped up since the full scale invasion of Ukraine.[91] As of September 11, 2023 it has been confirmed that Ukrainian military forces recaptured oil platforms near the Crimean peninsula. This also cut off marine intelligence to Russia. [92]

In 2014 a number of polls conducted by reputable Western outlets, including both Gallup and Pew, found that a majority of Crimeans across the board both supported the referendum results while also viewing the results as being representative of the views of the majority of the Crimean population.[93][94][95] While there is an obvious caveat of selection bias at play here, multiple polls across the board show that the majority of the Crimean population as of 2014 supported annexation.

A report conducted in 2017 found that many Crimeans would vote "yes" again to join Russia if presented with a new referendum, although the Crimean Tatars interviewed were much more skeptical of the current regime. These same Crimeans also reported an increase in price levels as being one of the consequences of joining Russia. There also seems to be a near-unanimous consensus among those interviewed that prior to annexation Crimea was marginalized in Ukraine. There has also been a significant exodus from Crimea, and contact with the rest of Ukraine has significantly diminished after annexation.[96]

It is, of course, highly doubtful that another reliable poll will be taken anytime soon. In 2024, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have launched daily aerial attacks against military targets in occupied Crimea. These attacks against the Russian military in Crimea was helped due to the actions of the anti-Russian resistance group Atesh. They have been leaking locations of targets to the Ukrainian military. [97]

Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics[edit]

The "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic" are terrorist organizations currently occupying parts of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. They were propped up by the government of Russia to force the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the east of Ukraine to secede and become Russian puppet states.[98] Both organizations have been used by Russia to wage war against Ukraine. As of September 2022, both the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic are de facto subjects of Russia.[99] Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by separatists using a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system provided by Russia to the separatists. Three Russians (Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky, and Oleg Pulatov) and a Ukrainian (Leonid Kharchenko) have been charged with murder in the downing of the airplane.[100] Russian Colonel General Nikolai Fedorovich Tkachev of the FSB was identified by Bellingcat as directing the operation.[101] The trials and investigations are ongoing.

On 27 March 2022, the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk announced a plan to hold a referendum on formally joining Russia. This would be in violation of Ukrainian and international law.[102]

Referendums were held in the oblasts in question, not organized or recognized by Ukraine or most countries.[103] On 21 February 2022, during increased tensions with Ukraine and the West, Vladimir Putin issued a statement recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR. On September 23, 2022 annexation referendums began in all territories held under military occupation. There are unconfirmed reports of residents being forced to vote at gunpoint.[104]

The economic situation in these puppet states is awful. Due to the lack of an effective government and what amounts to a police state, there are no real job opportunities, no real system for international trade, and government offices suffer from major in-fighting.[105] Repurposing a Stalin-era term, men serving in the puppet state armies are nicknamed dvadtsatipyatitysyachniki (двадцатипятитысячники, "twenty-five thousanders"), implying that they serve purely because the salary of 25,000 roubles a month is one of the few ways of earning a living.

Pensioners frequently have to cross tedious blockades to obtain pension benefits from Ukraine's pension system. Corporate takeover is a severe issue that has caused further damage. Long story short, this is what happens when terrorist groups try to function as a government.[106] Since 2015, all military pay has been issued in United States currency due to the lack of proper economic institutions.[107]

Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts[edit]

In the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military and it's so-called "People's Militias" invaded the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts. Both oblasts were under effective military occupation. Under Russian military occupation the human rights situation rapidly deteriorated. Civilians were "evacuated" to Russia when the Ukrainian Armed Forces began a successful counter offensive. The bullshit evacuation was illegal under the Geneva Convention in which a country may not remove people from occupied territory.[108] During the counter offensive the Russian government i.e. Vladimir Putin begun a series of faux referendums in the occupied territories. Once the referendums concluded, there was supposedly a vast majority of people who voted for joining Russia. After the referendums Hitler reincarnated Putin recognized Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as independent countries. Hours later both territories were annexed.[109]

Human rights (or lack thereof)[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Human rights

The human rights situation, as one might expect, is quite dismal. LGBT+ rights groups, political dissidents, and journalists frequently "disappear". Many people have faced arbitrary detention. Non-Russian ethnic groups have faced severe persecution at the hands of both the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.[110]

Donetsk's separatist government is so repressive that it borders on totalitarianism. At the height of the war in Donbas in 2014, the United Nations reported growing lawlessness in the region, documenting "targeted killings, torture, and abduction," primarily carried out by paramilitary forces. The UN also reported, "threats against, attacks on, and abductions" of journalists and international observers and the "beatings and attacks" on pro-Kyiv Ukrainians.[111] A report by Human Rights Watch said, "Anti-Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine are abducting, attacking, and harassing people they suspect of supporting the Ukrainian government or consider undesirable… anti-Kiev insurgents are using beatings and kidnappings to send the message that anyone who doesn't support them had better shut up or leave."[112] Amnesty International said that they often acted like "renegade gangs", and were implicated in torture, abductions, and summary executions.[113] Ivan Šimonović, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, wrote about the illegal detention, abduction, and intimidation of election officials in both pro-Russian separatist republics.[114] Members of the Donbas People's Militia engaged in assaults and robbery on the Romani population of Sloviansk. According to eyewitnesses, the armed separatists beat women and children, looted homes, and carried off the stolen goods in trucks.[115] The People's Militias are so rabidly homophobic that they will brutally murder gay and trans people for the crime of existing. Some officials in the occupied territories have denied that LGBTQ people live in the area, yet they want to murder them. Many people arrested for no reason were coerced into ratting out LGBTQ people or facing torture.[116]

Under Poroshenko, Ukrainian treatment of civilians in the separatist-held territory was not much better. Due to Poroshenko's reliance on the brutality of far-right militias, several volunteer battalions aligned with the far-right committed terrible crimes against civilian populations. These crimes include beatings of civilians, rape, murder, and theft of property.[117]

Annexation of occupied territories[edit]

With Putin's ongoing ethnic Genocide "special military operation" in Ukraine, the Russian military has brought parts of the oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia under military occupation. With the Donetsk People's Republic, the Luhansk People's Republic, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia under partial Russian occupation, Putin organized a sham referendum to annex these territories.[118] According to the Pro-Russian separatist leaders, 99% of residents voted in favor of annexation.[119] Putin formally signed off on the illegal annexation on September 30, 2022. His excuse was, of course, liberating Donbass from the "Satanic western powers". Military analysts believe that the annexation is an excuse for Putin to deploy nuclear weapons to "defend Russian territory".[120] Despite Putin claiming the Donbass region as Russian territory, the Armed Forces of Ukraine reclaimed the strategic city of Lyman from military occupation.[121] On November 11, 2022 the city of Kherson and surrounding villages and towns were liberated from Russian military occupation after the Russian military made a humiliating retreat. The population, which supposedly voted in favor of joining Russia, rejoiced as the Russian military fled.[122]

Russian invasion of Ukraine[edit]

Information icon.svg This section documents an ongoing military event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses, and initial news reports may be unreliable. The latest updates to this article may not reflect the most current information.

While the Russo-Ukrainian war actually began when Crimea was annexed, and Donbas separatists declared independence, everything came to a head by 2021-2022, when Russia began a massive military buildup along the border of Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, mere days after the eighth anniversary of the military occupation and annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin ordered a special military operation full-scale invasion of Ukraine, forcing Zelenskyy to order general mobilization for all able-bodied Ukrainian men. Effectively enforcing a gendered ban on who can leave the country.[123][124]

[125][126][127] Putin even put his nuclear military forces on alert, dramatically raising the prospect of nuclear war.[128]

This is the first major European war in decades, the prior being the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which occurred just before Putin took power. It is also the largest conventional war in Europe since WW2. While Putin argued Ukraine should never join NATO, and Zelenskyy had outright declared Ukraine would not join NATO, Putin invaded the country anyway, a clear act of war of aggression, which is a war crime in and of itself.[129][130][131] Many point to Putin's own speeches and written articles where he outlined his plans for Ukraine before the invasion: good old Russian imperialism. The US, NATO, and the EU all sanctioned Russian elites and banks for the invasion while providing lethal aid to the Ukrainians against the invading force.[132] In response, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy signed a membership application for the EU, firmly putting Kyiv in the western sphere, against Putin's intentions.[133]

While there were repeated calls by Ukrainians for a NATO no-fly zone, there was no appetite in NATO or the US for a no-fly zone due to the severe risk of escalation and, therefore, nuclear war between Russia and America who combined have 90% of the world's nukes. A no-fly zone would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine, which would have to be enforced through military means. It would take one angry Russian fighter pilot shooting at the NATO-aligned air enforcers for war to break out.[134][135]

Ukrainian civilians learning how to make Molotov cocktails to throw at Russian tanks.

By March, when calls for a no-fly zone from Ukraine reached their peak, Putin warned that a no-fly zone would be a declaration of war.[136] Instead, Zelenskyy spoke to US lawmakers in a video call on March 5 2022, and Zelenskyy instead asked for NATO to supply warplanes to Ukraine for use against Russian forces. Poland, in particular, has a fleet of Soviet-made fighter planes, which Ukrainian Air Force pilots were trained to use already and which would require American-made jets to resupply. This would be in addition to anti-armor and anti-air defensive weapons, including surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-tank weaponry, already being sent to Ukraine by NATO.[137][138]

Putin's initial plans involved a simultaneous push on all fronts while a mechanized column made its way to blitzkrieg to Kyiv in the north. Despite quick initial gains, Putin's invasion force quickly bogged down due to Ukrainian resistance, poor logistical planning, and lack of supplies.[139] The result was a month-long siege around Ukraine's capitalWikipedia. The lack of supplies was partly due to the sabotage of Belarusian railways by a loose network of Belarusian sympathizers.[140] Unfortunately for Ukraine, the country simply does not have the air force nor armored vehicles necessary to take full advantage of the situation; imagine what would happenWikipedia to a 40-mile-long column of invading tanks and support vehicles that had run out of gas in NATO territory. When it became clear that the plan for swift victory by blitzing Ukraine's capital had failed, Russian troops started pulling out of northern Ukraine, followed by a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Casualties among the Russian military, including the loss of the flagship of the Black Sea fleetWikipedia, and the separatists have affected the troops' morale. There was even a confirmed case of Russian soldiers running over their commander with a vehicle and killing him.[141]

Cultural impact[edit]

The invasion of Ukraine resulted in significant anti-war movements across the world, particularly in the Western world. It became a major fixture of political discourse, especially online. Adding a Ukrainian flag to your Twitter handle, Facebook profile picture, and similar on other platforms, became commonplace slacktivism. NAFO (North Atlantic Fellas Organization) is an online movement that officially combats Russian propaganda and trolls, and also fundraises things related to the Ukrainian war effort. Engaging in online battles of words and memes, their variety of shitposting for a good cause, as with other troll groups, can turn into harassment.[142][143][144] Some NAFO folks have also extended an anti-Russian stance into an anti-Armenian stance, defending Azerbaijan's actions as they cause a humanitarian crisis in the disputed territory of Artsakh.

On the opposing side of the divide regarding Ukraine, many tankies have staunchly defended Russia, despite the nation not being communist and anti-imperialism supposedly being a core belief, claiming that the existence of the Azov Batallion means the entire nation of Ukraine is made up of Nazis.[145] It is also generally assosciated with a worldview that sees anything related to the United States or west as bad no matter what. Many U.S. conservatives also started to support Russia's invasion, in great part due to Donald Trump's history with foreign relations.[146] G

Unfortunately, the war was associated with a rise in xenophobia. Russians, regardless of their position on the war, and even those who had not lived in the nation for years, faced discrimination because of the conflict.[147] Even Ukrainians have been targeted because they are confused for Russians.[148]

Unsurprisingly, a major peer-level conflict in Europe has produced a number of conspiracy theories. Some of these have been part of Russian propaganda, such as the claim that Russia's invasion was justified by the presence of US biological laboratories in Ukraine which were supposedly developing biological weapons.[149] Probably the most bizarre conspiracy theory is that the war is entirely fabricated despite the war being perhaps the best documented in history, with combat footage freely available from both sides.[150]

Potential diplomacy[edit]

With the conflict dragging on well over its second year, calls for peace talks have been echoed by some world leaders. Nine months into the conflict, US President Joe Biden encouraged peace talks to prevent an indefinite war,[151] though emphasis remains on supporting Ukraine until it can negotiate from a strong, winning position. Around the same time India proposed that it could be a potential mediator in ending the conflict due to having ties with both eastern and western nations.[152] China has also purposed a "peace plan" or a map to peace that really does nothing to actually resolve the conflict. It claims to respect territorial integrity, rebuilding infrastructure, help with humanitarian efforts, further peace talks and "stopping unilateral sanctions". Basically a glorified ceasefire that favors Russia.[153]

"The" Ukraine[edit]

Ukraine is sometimes called "the Ukraine," which annoys the Ukrainians, although this practice is dying out.[154] The reasoning for this is based on etymological debates over the origins of the word Ukraine: a popular version is that it comes from a Slavic word corresponding to "frontier" or "borderland"[note 6] — hence the ukraine ("the borderland"). However, Ukrainians themselves would call the border кордон (kordon) and the borderland околиця (okolytsia). Still, neither Russian nor Ukrainian were the sources of this word, while Church Slavonic and Old Ruthenian were - and indeed it had such word as "Oukraina";[155] with meaning almost similar to "march", the element which exists nowadays in names such as Denmark. Moreover, there were several "Ukraines" in regions of Central Russia or the Don river basin. The very word "Ukraine", meaning "frontier", in the lands of the Dnieper basin appeared in Polish in the Early Modern period, from which modern Ukrainian, Russian, etc., uses are stemmed. A similar division manifests as Russians prefer using "на Украине" (на Украине; on the Ukraine) instead of "в Украине" (v Ukraine; in Ukraine). It's a manufactroversy, but you can think of "Ukraine" as referring to the country and "the Ukraine" as referring to the region. Though both Russians and Ukrainians historically were using both forms despite the meaning they implied in it, be it region or nation-state. As well as other Slavic nations - no Ukrainian would mind if some Western Slavs were using the preposition "na".

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Soviet historians often portrayed Kievan Rus'Wikipedia as the common cradle of the three East Slavic nations. According to that logic, not unlike the builders of the Tower of Babel, the Eastern Slavs originally constituted one Old Rus' nationality or ethnicity that spoke a common language. It was only the Mongol invasion that divided the people of Rus' and set them on separate paths of development, which eventually led to the formation of three modern nations. The competing view, advanced by imperial Russian historians and shared by some authors in present-day Russia, claims Kievan Rus' history for one indivisible Russian nation, of which Ukrainians and Belarusians are considered mere subgroups, distinguished not by separate cultures and languages but by variants of Russian culture and dialects of the Russian language.
  2. Note to politicians: if one of your country's most important monuments turns into this[18] under your watch, say a sweet goodbye to your career.
  3. Mainly because of ethnic cleansing by Joseph Stalin.
  4. Think of it as an Eastern European Guantanamo.
  5. How controversial? It caused a fistfight in the parliament.[22] Though fistfights are actually not uncommon in the Ukrainian parliament.
  6. "Окраина" (Okraina), "border" or "outskirts" in modern Russian, vs "Украина" (Ukraina), the word for Ukraine in modern Russian.


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