Over Coffee #12: Russia invades Ukraine

With the flood of information coming out of a near-infinite number of sources, it would be impossible for me to provide decent coverage. So, I shall keep it brief, and stick to mostly the reputable news sites (because there’s an absurd amount of bad information out there) and cover only major developments.

On the eve of the attack (21 February 2022), Russia recognised the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — also known as Donbas — on Monday. The recognition of the two “People’s Republics” allowed Moscow to mobilise Russian troops into the region, setting up the invasion.

On 24 February 2022, Putin addresses the Russian people, announcing a “special military operation” against Ukraine. In the address, Putin justified the military operations as a response to the “expansion of NATO to the east” and other forms of “illegitimate use of military force” and “containment” by the United States. Putin invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter as the basis for its military operation, which would be aimed to “protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the regime in Kiev… and pursue the demilitarization and the denazification of Ukraine…”

Early Friday morning, Russia begins its three-front assault on Ukraine.

Map showing initial phase of Russian invasion. Source: Financial Times.

International responses and recent developments

Denmark plans to send around 200 troops and 2 F-16s to Estonia.

Indonesia and Singapore condemn the Russian attack. Indonesian officials have started planning the evacuation of Indonesian nationals from Ukraine. President Joko Widodo tweeted on 24 February calling for a cessation of hostilities, citing the “misery” and “danger” to the world.

The United States have condemned the attack. Joe Biden is expected to increase economic sanctions on Russia, along with additional technology export blocks. Later in the week, the US, UK, EU, and Canada removed major Russian banks from the SWIFT system and implemented other sanctions. The United States have also approved USD 350 million in military aid to Ukraine.

China has yet to issue any form of rebuke. If anything, China remained open to wheat imports from Russia, which might weaken the effect of Western sanctions.

Ireland pledges around 10 million euros for humanitarian aid.

NATO members — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia specifically — have invoked Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, which calls for emergency meetings should a member feel threatened by another country. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a formal release of NATO’s stance, openly condemning the attack as a “brutal act of war … on a scale and of a type we thought belong to history.

In Russia, anti-war protests erupted in numerous cities, which have led to protestors being arrested .

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote to hold an emergency session on Ukraine.

Near the end of the week, the Russian offensive seems to have slowed down due to strong resistance across Ukraine. Putin has called for Ukrainians to “take power into your own hands” and to agree to a peace settlement. At the time of writing, there’s still some back and forth regarding potential peace talks. Ukrainian representatives denied they were not ready for peace talks.

That’s all I can cover this week. If you want to support the Ukrainian people in defending their country, you can donate your money or cryptocurrency to SaveLife. Else, you can also do your part by donating to other humanitarian charities, such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross.

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