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Why Is Russia Invading Ukraine? Here's What We Know About Putin's Intentions So Far

President Putin has called Russia and Ukraine "one nation" and that Ukraine is the "crown jewel of Russia".

Cover image via NDTV & Alex Kovzhun/The Guardian

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On Thursday morning local time, 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine

The "special military operation" is "a full-scale invasion of Ukraine" that is seeing peaceful Ukrainian cities "under strike" as confirmed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba soon after.

In a matter of hours, Russian troops and tanks had entered Ukraine on three fronts.

The Russian military has launched more than 100 missiles into Ukraine.

This morning local time, 25 February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed so far in the Russian invasion of his country.

In a video address, he called them "heroes".

While there have been ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, the situation escalated in early 2021 when Zelenskyy urged US President Joe Biden to let Ukraine join NATO

Putin doesn't want that.

He wants all the countries, especially Ukraine, on Russia's periphery to be pro-Russia.

In fact, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has gone so far as to say this, "For us, it's absolutely mandatory to ensure Ukraine never, ever becomes a member of NATO."

NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries. NATO currently recognises Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members — something that Putin is vehemently against.

Back in 2015 — a year after Russia invaded and occupied the Crimea region of Ukraine through sympathetic separatists, Putin famously called Ukraine the "crown jewel of Russia".

In July last year, he wrote an essay in which he called Russia and Ukraine as "one nation" while blaming "divisive forces" for creating a wall between Russia and Ukraine. He claimed that modern Ukraine was entirely created by communist Russia and is now a puppet state that is controlled by the West.

A BBC report stated that Putin has partly blamed his decision to attack Ukraine on NATO's eastward expansion, complaining that Russia has "nowhere further to retreat to - do they think we'll just sit idly by?".

Military vehicles drive along a street after Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine.

Image via Reuters/New Straits TImes

Essentially, the invasion of Ukraine, which has pivoted toward the West under President Zelenskyy, is Putin's attempt to stop the former Soviet Republic from moving away from its post-Soviet orbit of Russia

In December, Putin demanded legal assurances that Ukraine will never be admitted to NATO. However, his demands were refused, even though there is no prospect of Ukraine joining NATO for a long time.

According to Putin, if Ukraine joins NATO, the alliance will try to recapture Crimea.

However, the invasion is no longer about Ukraine alone, argues Casey Michel, author of "American Kleptocracy". According to Casey, Putin wants to reorder the post-Cold War consensus in Europe.

Similarly, BBC also says that Russia is not just focused on Ukraine. It demands that NATO return to its pre-1997 borders. But the idea that any current NATO country will give up its membership is a non-starter.

Image via BBC

Meanwhile, there are eleven Malaysians who are still stuck in Ukraine

In total, 23 Malaysian citizens are registered with the Malaysian Embassy in the capital city of Kyiv. Of which, 12 have returned home while 11 are still stuck there.

The Malaysian Embassy in Kyiv is currently working to provide a safe haven for them.

An explosion is seen between the Poznjaky and Kharkivska metro stations in Kyiv.

Image via Alex Kovzhun/The Guardian

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