The war that commenced back in 2014 has turned into the full-scale invasion since the 24th of February 2024, when the whole of Ukraine woke up at 5 am to the sounds of explosions. The question that everyone keeps asking remains – why did this happen? We’ve tried to summarise possible reasons, all of which lead to the first point, in one short article.
1. Ukraine is considered to be a part of russia (by russia)
Historically, Ukraine has been fighting for its independence over centuries. Parts of the country were under Polish, Hungarian and Russian reign at various times in history. The 20th century had seen Ukraine becoming a part of the USSR and finally gaining its independence in 1991. It’s all started, back in Kyevan Rus and its capital Kyiv back in the 9th century, way before Moscow has emerged.
2. Appropriation of Ukrainian culture
For many years, Russia was very vocal about Ukrainian-born Mykola Hohol (who came from Ukrainian family, depicted Ukraine and considered himself a Ukrainian author although his texts were written in russian), making sure he was perceived as one of the greatest russian prosaics. Kazimir Malevich, also born in Ukraine, is somehow known to the world as russian artist. Same goes for Volodymyr the Great (who christened Kyivan Rus in Kyiv) and Anne of Kyiv (mistakenly perceived by many as russian princess). This trend continues as russia is trying to claim Ukrainian national dish borsch, that Ukraine is seeking to be acknowledged as part of its heritage by UNESCO. A lot of Ukrainian songs still fall under “russian music” lists in Spotify and AppleMusic.
Since as early as 17th century, Russia has tried to destroy Ukrainian language as such. It was often referred to as commoners’ language, a dialect, a mixture of russian and Polish languages (not a real independent language) etc until it was completely banned in public places (school education, printing, performing, speaking or writing in Ukrainian was prohibited). During the Soviet era, russian was the main spoken language (and the official one), which works well for russian propaganda tale of the “common language” and “brotherly nations” and also explains why a big part of Ukrainian population speaks russian.
Since language is one of the main features of a nation, Ukrainian language was targeted further. The majority of Ukrainian-speaking population resided in the villages, and the language continued to live. To make sure it gets destroyed, USSR has created artificial famine in 1930s, killing millions of people (official statistics confirm 4 million deaths, but the new research show figures in excess of 10,5 million). These horrible events are now being recognised as genocide. A lot of European countries have recognised current russian invasion of Ukraine as genocide too.
5. Collapse of the USSR is seen as one of the most tragic events of the 20th century by putin
Seeing many countries leaving the zone of russian influence and turning towards Europe (and many towards NATO) has certainly hurt the imperialistic views of russia. The will to regain power has resulted in the invasion of Transnistria and Georgia, as well as 2 wars in Ichkeriya (now Chechen republic). And now Ukraine.
6. World domination
With more territories invaded, russia feels more powerful. The propaganda continues to twist the facts, claiming the world does not consider it anymore, every state is an enemy plotting against it. Only the shift in power could solve this injustice.
The presidential elections in russia are fast approaching, set to take place in early 2024. To increase the rating and to retain power, putin (or his appointed assessor) always chooses imperialistic rhetoric and portrays himself as a hero. Protecting russians from the Chechen terrorists was one instance, now it is saving the brotherly nation from the nazis.
8. Russia has run out of possibilities to control Ukraine
While political (pro-russian president Viktor Yanukovich), economical (gas wars) and diplomatic leverages have not achieved the goal of returning Ukraine to its “cradle”, russia started its invasion of Ukraine in 2014, when it occupied Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. It was only a matter of time until the invasion would come to the next phase as Ukraine had not changed its pro-European vector. The only way to make that turn was to invade a sovereign country, displace its government and proclaim it a part of russia. Now Europe is facing the most devastating war since 1945.