Image courtesy of Garrett Farrell
By Chris Carey
Vladimir Putin could have expected his army to march through Kiev, Ukraine, within days, if not hours. Today, the invasion launched on February 24, 2022 is in its eighth day, and while nominal progress has been made, considerable Ukrainian resistance and a concerted global pushback have stalled the Russian advance.
This nominal progress is illustrated by the Russian assault on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, on Wednesday 2 March. However, even in this city in the midst of regular bombardments similar to those seen in the capital Kiev, the Ukrainians persist in their defense. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has been a driving force in Ukraine’s defense of his capital.
When asked to evacuate the city of Kiev invaded by the United States and Turkey, Zelensky replied: “I need ammunition, not a round”, and chose to stay on the front line to defend his country. In a video he posted on Saturday, February 26, Zelensky said, “I’m here. We do not lay down arms. We will defend our country, because our weapon is the truth, and our truth is that it is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of that.
Zelensky is being praised for his actions in defense of Ukraine, as Putin weathers global outrage over his military aggression against neighboring Ukraine.
Mustering troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border for weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his soldiers to recognize the independence of two pro-Russian separatist districts in Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, on 21 February, moving thousands of his men to the area for alleged peacekeeping reasons.
Ignoring European and global outrage at this encroachment on Ukrainian soil, Putin then ordered his army to advance and engage in a ground invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The attack can be characterized largely by concerted shelling of civilian areas and Russian concentration on population centers in hopes of demoralizing the Ukrainian defense. Putin’s larger plan, however, is shrouded in mystery.
Fiona Hill, a well-respected Russian academic, spoke to Politico about the matter. She suspects Putin’s goal is to “restore Russian dominance over what Russia considers the Russian ‘Imperium.’ were once part of the Russian Empire, so this should give us pause.
Nevertheless, Putin’s attempt at expansionism is not unanswerable. Sweeping sanctions from the European Union, the United States, Canada and other world powers have crippled the Russian economy and frozen the foreign assets of many Russian elites, including Putin himself. This goes so far as to prohibit Russian planes from landing in these countries.
Moreover, the private sector took serious steps to stop Putin before things developed further. BP, Shell, Facebook, Apple, Visa, Mastercard, FIFA and many other organizations and companies have announced measures to limit use, expansion, contracts or other presences in Russia. For example, Apple Pay has been removed from Russia, leaving some commuters scrambling to get cash on their morning train.
However, many of these external actions are not aimed at actively stopping the Russian assault on Ukraine which continues today with the bombardment of Kiev, Kharkiv, the maritime city of Kherson where various reports of resistance have surfaced, among others. The human cost of this progress is already enormous with nearly a million refugees having already fled Ukraine according to UN estimates. Sadly, estimates of civilian and troop deaths run into the thousands, with Ukrainian and Russian casualties reported and substantiated.