Image Courtesy of Garrett Farrell
By Chris Carey
Vladimir Putin could have expected his military to roll through Kiev, Ukraine in days, possibly hours. Today, the invasion launched on February 24, 2022 faces its eighth day, and although nominal progress has been made, considerable resistance by the Ukrainians and concerted global pushback have stalled the Russian advance.
That nominal progress is highlighted by the Russian assault of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, this Wednesday, March 2. However, even in this city amidst regular bombardment similar to that seen in the capital of Kiev, the Ukrainians persist in their defense. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, has been a driving force in the Ukrainian defense of its capital city.
When urged to evacuate the invaded city of Kiev by both the United States and Turkey, Zelensky responded, “I need ammunition, not a ride,” and chose to stay on the front lines in defense of his country. In a video he released Saturday February 26, Zelensky said, “I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this.”
Zelensky is facing widespread praise for his actions in defense of Ukraine, while Putin weathers global outrage at his military aggression toward neighboring Ukraine.
Amassing troops at the border of Russia and Ukraine for weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his soldiers to recognize the independence of two Russian-sympathetic seperatist districts in Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, on February 21, moving thousands of his men into the region for alleged peacekeeping reasons.
Ignoring European and global outrage at this encroachment on Ukrainian soil, Putin then commanded his army to move forward and engage in a land invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The attack can largely be characterized by concerted bombings of civilian areas and Russian focus on centers of population in hopes of demoralizing the Ukrainian defense. Putin’s larger plan, however, is shrouded in mystery.
Fiona Hill, a well respected Russian scholar spoke with Politico on the topic. She suspects that Putin’s aim is “reestablishing Russian dominance of what Russia sees as the Russian ‘Imperium.’ I’m saying this very specifically because the lands of the Soviet Union didn’t cover all of the territories that were once part of the Russian Empire. So that should give us pause.”
Nevertheless, Putin’s attempt at expansionism is not unmet. 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 of Russia’s elites including Putin himself. This goes as far as prohibiting Russian planes from landing in these countries.
Additionally, the private sector has taken serious steps to stop Putin before things evolve further. BP, Shell, Facebook, Apple, Visa, Mastercard, FIFA, and many other organizations and companies have announced steps to be taken that will limit use, expansion, contracts, or other presences in Russia. For instance, Apple Pay has been removed from Russia, leaving some commuters scrambling for cash on their morning train.
Many of these outside actions, however, are not working toward actively halting the Russian assault on Ukraine which continues today with shelling of Kiev, Kharkiv, the shipping town of Kherson where varied reports of resistance have surfaced, among others. The human cost of this advance is already massive with nearly one million refugees having already fled Ukraine per UN estimates. Grimly, death estimates of civilians and soldiers alike number in the thousands, with both Ukrainian and Russian casualties reported and corroborated.