History in Politics: The Russia-Ukraine Conflict

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Vladimir Putin announced in a televised broadcast that Russia would launch a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Addressing his nation, Putin said that his aim was to “demilitarise” the country.

Soon after Putin’s speech, explosions were reported on the outskirts of Ukrainian cities, as well as in the country’s capital, Kyiv. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry then announced that Russian troops were crossing the border. “The invasion has begun”, the Ministry said in a statement.

Since then, Ukraine has lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, and sustained attacks have been carried out on the eastern city of Kharkiv.

History In Politics Society asked members for their thoughts on the crisis.

I do think we should really focus on the citizens in all of this. For the leaders – Putin, Biden, Johnson – it’s all one chess game, reminiscent of a Cold War proxy and the losers are the citizens of Ukraine who have little idea of what is going to happen next.

Michaela Makusha

Such a shame only voices of reasons come from places unrelated to the whole mess. One thing that is not being is discussed is that Putin explicitly said all former Soviet states leaving was a ‘mistake’. That includes not just Ukrine but Baltic states and the Caucasus. This is a huge concern.

Justin Kim

The Russia-Ukraine crisis highlights the power of history and how it can be used as an insidious political weapon to attack the sovereignty of other nations. Furthermore, I personally am very doubtful about the effectiveness of imposing sanctions – in a video posted by the BBC on their website yesterday [Wednesday], it was announced that Russia exports 70% of its goods to China. This means that even if Russia is closed off to Western markets, it will not be as impactful as one might think, since Russia has a keen business partner in China. European sanctions will probably draw Russia and China closer together, based upon both economic interests as well as a mutual antipathy for the West. So long as these two countries are in accord, which I think is fair to say has been consummated by a 30 year gas and oil deal, they will fiercely protect and support each other. 

Emily Worlock

Image Credit: Pilgrim Whynot

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