Introduction to War:
On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated its invasion of Ukraine, with many complexities surrounding this conflict. Located in the far east of Europe, Ukraine, an independent nation since the 1989 collapse of the USSR, borders Russia, an international superpower. Ukraine is currently being led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; once a comedian, he was elected as an “anti-corruption figure” but now leads the war effort against Russia, which has won him widespread admiration. In Russia, Vladimir Putin, the president and a former KGB officer, has been consolidating political power over the 21st century.
War and Refugees:
Since the initial invasion, Russia’s blitz has turned into a siege. Putin had expected much less resistance from Ukraine; however, thanks to Ukrainian resilience, NATO aid, and Russian failures, the war has continued. One of the problems Russia has been facing is its heavy reliance on transporting supplies via railroad. Because its significant railroad lines have been destroyed and it has not captured the relevant Ukrainian air base, Russia has resorted to using crude military trucks, wasting logistical time and effort.
However, the war has still had costly humanitarian tolls. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) projects that Ukrainian refugees will reach a total of four million by July. Ukraine has barred men 18-60 from leaving, so many women and children are fleeing to neighboring Poland, Slovakia, Hungaria, Romania, and Moldova, nearly doubling the population in some cities. Unlike past refugee crises (such as the Syrian civil war), the international community has fully welcomed Ukrainian refugees, who have also been issued blanket permission by the European Union to settle in any EU Nation for up to 3 years.
With 141 for, 5 against, and 35 abstaining, the UN General Assembly condemned the invasion. The five nations who voted against include Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, Syria, and North Korea, a so-called alliance of despots. Yet the UN still could not fulfill its number one objective—preserving collective security—because the Security Council resolution was vetoed by Russia.
Domestically, Putin’s approval rating has allegedly risen from 60% to 71%, highlighting the intensity of Putin’s disinformation campaign; moreover, Putin has proclaimed that reporting on Ukraine is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. As a result, 60% of Russians blame NATO for the war, while only 33% are against the war.
Nonetheless, a sizable minority of young, educated Russians protest the war. Many anti-war demonstrations have resulted in mass arrests, and this, along with other coercive factors, is currently contributing to significant Russian “brain drain”, the emigration of highly trained or intelligent people from a particular country.
China and Dispute With Taiwan:
Although Chinese-Russian relations had strengthened as American hostility towards both countries increased, China was displeased with Russia’s escalation. This is because one, China and the rest of the world face potential economic turmoil; two, China may be forced to choose between the West and Russia; and three, China may undergo sanctions if they continue to trade with Russia.
However, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict has shed light on the international community’s reactions to invasion, which is particularly applicable to China’s ambitions to annex Taiwan. China has become more wary of global consequences, and Taiwan has been shown the significant benefits of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s outspokenness and publicity.