Situation Update # 4: The Ukraine Crisis
Foreign Policy Brief #146 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | February 28, 2022
Header photo taken from: ABC News
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Photo taken from: CNN
On February 24, 2022, the largest assault on a European state since World War Two began as Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces entered by way of air, land, and sea quickly spreading across the country. Areas outside of the capital Kyiv, such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv have fallen under Russian control. The invading forces have targeted the country’ s infrastructure, fuel facilities, airfields, and military posts attempting to limit Ukraine’s capacity to fight back. Yet as Russian troops have advanced towards the capital they have been slowed by fierce pushback from Ukrainian forces and armed civilians. A curfew has been put in place in Kyiv and is set to last to Monday morning as Russian forces close in on the city.
Condemnation of the invasion followed soon after it began, the US, UK, European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan all hit Moscow with fresh rounds of sanctions. US sanctions include– cutting off major Russian banks’ access from using dollars for transactions, sanctioning wealthy Russian individuals with links to the Kremlin, cutting off high-tech imports to stop Russia from developing further military capabilities, as well as sanctioning Vladimir Putin himself. Following the US’s lead, the UK, EU, and Canada also announced personal sanctions on Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On Saturday, February 26, 2022, Russian banks were shut out of the SWIFT (Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) financial system.
European countries had previously stopped short of shutting Russia out of the financial system. SWIFT is used by over 11,000 banks worldwide to carry out transactions worth trillions of dollars. EU countries such as Germany had argued that removing Russia from SWIFT could damage their economies that have business dealings with Russia. Yet as the invasion enters its third day with the capital of Ukraine within sight of Russian forces the move was taken to harshly hinder Russia financially.
As of February 27, 2022, nearly 150,000 people have fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighboring countries. Most refugee arrivals have been women and children, as all men aged between 18 to 60 years old have been banned from leaving the country in order to take up arms and assist in the fight against the invasion. Ukrainian officials have reported 198 deaths thus far. While across the border in Russia, more than 3,000 people have been arrested for protesting against the war in Ukraine.
In a ratcheting up forces, NATO has announced that the alliance would deploy thousands of troops to neighboring allied states. The deployments include elements of its rapid response force made up of, land, air, sea, and special operations forces. The alliance has also indicated it would continue sending weapons to Ukraine. President Biden has also instructed the US State Department to provide an additional $350 million worth of weapons to be allocated to Ukraine under the Foreign Assistance Act.
On Friday, a draft UN security council resolution that would have condemned the invasion of Ukraine was vetoed by Russia. Eleven other security council members voted in favor of the resolution with the UAE, India, and China abstaining, signifying Moscow’s isolation and lack of support for its aggression. Additionally, France on Saturday seized a cargo ship in the English channel, “the Baltic Leader”, that is suspected to have been defying sanctions and have links to Russian officials targeted by sanctions.
Photos taken from (above): Sky News, (below): Sparklight
Officials in Kyiv have urged residents to seek shelter, stay away from windows, and take precautions to avoid flying debris or bullets. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a video on Saturday on the streets of Kyiv having rejected offers by foreign governments to evacuate him from the besieged country, instead choosing to remain and fight.
“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,” he said.