Western leaders visit Kyiv as war in Ukraine enters third year

Connie Queline

Western leaders visit Kyiv as war in Ukraine enters third year

Copyright: Getty Images

Ukraine and Russia have a long, complicated history.

Ukraine became independent in 1991, following the fall of the USSR, and gradually grew closer to the European Union and the West.

Russia had long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the EU and the West’s defensive military alliance Nato.

For years, Putin denied Ukraine‘s statehood, culminating in a lengthy 2021 essay saying that Russians and Ukrainians were one people.

He frequently accused Ukraine of being taken over by extremists, ever since its pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in 2014 after months of protests against his rule.

At that time, Russia retaliated by seizing the southern Ukrainian region of Crimea.

An uprising in the east by Russian-backed separatists sparked a war that claimed some 14,000 lives.

In 2021, Putin began deploying large numbers of Russian troops close to Ukraine’s borders. For months Putin denied he would invade his neighbour.

Announcing the invasion on 24 February 2022, he accused Nato of threatening Russia’s “historic future as a nation”. The US had warned its European partners that military manoeuvres on Russia’s borders were consistent with preparations for an attack on Ukraine but, until that day in 2022, few believed Russia would genuinely launch an invasion.

Yet, perhaps just as few thought Ukraine would be able to hold out for as long as it has.

Copyright: Getty Images


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