Unfortunately, the last two weeks of February have seen the beginning of something that seemed impossible until it happened, a WAR in Europe, more specifically between Russia and Ukraine on Ukrainian territory. Starting on the 24th of February, Russia began its military action in different areas of the Ukrainian country, amassing more than 175,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine. But why is Russia attacking Ukraine and what is the origin of the conflict?
This conflict is not a thing of a week, a month or a year. The conflict has its origins in the 20th century, from the division of territories at the end of the Second World War in 1945 when the Soviet Union included the entire region. In 1991, as a consequence of the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent country while maintaining good relations with Russia. Over the years, Ukraine has increasingly moved closer to the West, to the point that in 2012 an association agreement was reached between Ukraine and the European Union. Russia did not like this decision, so exerted pressure on Viktor Yanukovych, then President of Ukraine, who suspended the agreement just before it was due to be signed in November 2013.
The decision taken was not well accepted by the Ukrainian people, who for months protested to resume negotiations with the EU, a movement also known as the Euromaidan. Taking advantage of these moments of crisis, Russia decided to take over the main institutions of the Crimean Peninsula, calling for a referendum on independence. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was very important to the Russian people to recover a territory they believed rightly belonged to them. After he succeeded in regaining Crimea, continuing armed clashes in the eastern region of Ukraine began, called the Donbas War. Putin chose to begin his main attack on Ukraine there on 22nd February 2022.
Unfortunately, war is never good for a country and its population. As a result of the Russian invasion, it is estimated by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) that more than a million people have fled to neighbouring countries. In Poland alone, the main destination for most of them, more than 500,000 refugees have already arrived. So many people are still trying to cross the border that long traffic jams are forming on the Ukraine side. Many people have been days in their cars, moving slowly or walking.
According to Polish Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wasik, “We have to prepare for up to one million refugees”. The countries bordering Ukraine have already started preparations for the coming wave of refugees. Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic or Moldova will be the main countries affected by this crisis.
Most of the refugees are women and children, as young men and teenagers as well as older men who are fit to fight have stayed behind to defend their country.
From CONEXIÓN Creando Puentes, we send a big hug and support to all the people and families affected by this conflict. We hope that it will end as soon as possible and with the least possible consequences. We also want to inform you that we are organising ourselves to do our bit to help the displaced Ukrainians in a practical way, and we will soon publish more about it.
2nd March 2022
(updated on 4th March 2022)
[translated from Spanish]