The Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine: Simplified

Ryan Rose

         A conflict in the east has grasped the nation’s attention and chances are you’ve likely heard about it. Whether it be from a teacher in school, people close to you, or even from a Tik Tok making jokes out of the situation, it’s likely that sometime in the past month you’ve heard about Russia and Ukraine’s conflicts or even about the start of World War III. While most Americans have heard of this situation by now, many don’t actually know very much about it. This article will break the conflict down into the simplest terms possible and is not meant to teach you everything that has recently happened, but rather to give you a basic understanding of what is occurring and why.


         When the Soviet Union (a socialist state) fell in 1991, it eventually divided into 15 different states, including both Ukraine and Russia. There was an agreement between Russia and Ukraine that if Ukraine gave up their vast amounts of atomic weapons to Russia, Russia would in turn promise to not invade the new nation. In 2014, Russia violated this agreement and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, effectively taking it from Ukraine. Now, in 2022, Russia (led by Vladimir Putin) is invading Ukraine yet again with the intention of annexing more of it. 


         The big question many Americans now have is why does Putin want Ukraine in the first place? There are two main reasons why Putin wants Ukraine. Firstly, it appears that he wants to reunify the old Soviet Union territories and bring them under his control. He wants to prevent these nations from becoming democratic and too aligned with the west; he’d rather see these nations under undemocratic governments just like his own. Secondly, Putin wants to prevent Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is a group of nations joined together to promote and protect freedom and democracy throughout the world. If Ukraine were to join NATO, then Putin would not be able to take it back in his attempts to unify the formerly-USSR nations. If Ukraine were a member of NATO, Putin would not be able to attack or control Ukraine without intervention from other nations that are members of NATO, like the US. Putin knows that if he attacks now, Ukraine will not become a member anytime soon. Hypothetically, if Ukraine were admitted to NATO now in March of 2022, other NATO nations would have to defend Ukraine from Russia militarily, bringing the world into World War III. No country wants to enter a world war. Putin knows that this is his advantage against Ukraine at the moment and wants to use it before he could potentially lose it.


         So now, Putin is fully invading Ukraine. Russia has already gained control of multiple cities along the Ukrainian-Russian border and is aiming to push forward, with the main goal of seizing the nation’s capital, Kyiv. Russia has mercilessly attacked civilians going as far as to bomb residential areas and quite literally run over a civilian car with a tank purposefully. Most recently the country has even attacked and seized a power plant in Ukraine. Ukraine itself has been doing its best to defend itself from Russia, forcing all males from 18-60 to remain in the country and join in on the fight. While many Ukrainian citizens seek refuge elsewhere, a large number of civilians have joined in the fight against Russia in attempts to protect their country. Ukrainian President Zelensky has invited anyone who wants to join the fight to join and has even been seen right in the action himself. Outside nations, including the United States, have not joined in on any of the conflicts, but they are putting sanctions in place against Russia, supplying the Ukrainian people, and taking in refugees wherever they can.


         The best way to stay informed of what is going on is to keep up with the news of what is happening in real time; everything becomes much easier to follow and you won’t end up feeling lost as to what has been happening. It is important to follow this situation in the coming weeks and months; conflict like this hasn’t been seen in Europe since the Cold War and many of the current events and leaders involved in the conflict can be compared to the events and leaders of World War II. What happens next will be historic and could greatly change the way we know the world to be.