Slava Ukraini – The Russian invasion of Ukraine One Year On 

"One year ago today President Putin of Russia re-launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine."

By Samuel Pennifold & Sine Schei

One year ago today President Putin of Russia re-launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Initially, Russian forces – employing a combination of air power, heavy artillery, armoured vehicles, tanks, and infantry – saw rapid advances in the northeast of the country in an attempt to take major cities such as Kharkiv and the capital of Kyiv. Many experts, including US intelligence agencies, expected Ukrainian forces to quickly crumble under the pressure of the Russian advance. They were wrong.

Strategic doctrine tells you that a defensive force has an advantage over an offensive force, and this advantage increases drastically in urban settings. As a result Ukrainian forces, a mixture of professional soldiers and civilians pressed into combat, were able to hold Kyiv and other cities as swift counterattacks prevented Russian forces from securing key strategic assets such as airports. After weeks of intense shelling and fighting Russian forces were repelled from the suburbs of Kyiv where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy filmed himself on the streets of the city saying “I am here. We will not lay down any weapons.”

Though as Russia was forced into retreat, the horror of the invasion was unveiled. Journalists and investigators have uncovered serious crimes committed by Russian soldiers against civilians, acts that stand not just opposed to international law but to humanity. Putin, as leader of the Russian military, has a long history of targeting civilian populations. Something that has once again been revealed by the actions of his soldiers and the decision to bomb civilian targets. In his recent state of the nation speech, Putin suggested that Russia was not at war with the Ukrainian people. If he is correct then it is because he does understand who he is at war with. His war against Ukraine and its people is a war that rips apart all the pieces of humanity we thought were left in the world.

The international community and the UN moved swiftly to condemn Putin and his invasion. Many, predominantly NATO members, nations slapped wide-reaching sanctions against Russia and various Russian oligarchs. Certain states such as the global economic giants of China and India, however, have refused to condemn and sanction Russia over its invasion – though have also called for peace. Regional powers such as South Africa have also continued to work with Russia. This has given Russia room to manoeuvre economically and has lessened the impact of NATO-led sanctions. In Putin’s state of the nation speech, Putin made light of the fact that Russia’s economy has shrunk by less than many experts predicted it would. The violence of the war continues to be directed at Ukraine, but the theatres of conflict have expanded.

One of the key areas of the conflict has been the provision of aid to Ukraine. Many states, even those such as China who have not condemned the invasion, have provided humanitarian aid. But it has largely been the West led by key NATO members including the UK, the US, and France that have provided military aid. Many of Ukraine’s allies have sent FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapons – which have come to take on a literal divine quality, being rebranded as the Saint Javelin by the Ukranian-Canadian journalist Christian Borys. Though the provision of military aid has not always been a simple matter. The provision of tanks and jets have become the latest debate as Ukraine’s allies look to support their effort without provoking a nuclear armed Putin.

Germany is one of the countries that initially took a step back in the debate on providing tanks to Ukraine. While history may deem this justifiable, it is important to consider the current reality of this war. The war in Ukraine was started by Russia and continues to be accelerated by Russia alone. The logic proposed by some groups, such as the far-left party Rødt in Norway and other political groups, that donating weapons contributes to an acceleration of the conflict and harm to civilians, is wrong. This war is accelerated by Putin’s crimes against humanity. Leaving Ukraine without serious military aid does nothing but support Putin in his search for lebensraum.

As Ukraine braces for a renewed Russian onslaught and plans its own counterattacks in the northeast country, the future of the state hangs in the balance. With no end in sight, it will be with the grace of God, the support of allies, and the Ukrainian spirit that we do not need to write another article on the 24th of February 2024.

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