Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, hoping to steamroll the country’s key cities and bring it under military control in a matter of days. By Monday, Russian diplomats agreed to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to discuss a potential ceasefire.
Ukrainian defenders have frustrated the Russian military. They have held the capital of Kyiv in a series of fierce engagements. Ukraine has outfitted reservists with weaponry and forbidden men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country.
The president has also made numerous appearances on Ukrainian television urging those who remain in the country to fight against the invaders. TV networks in the country have aired instructions on how to construct Molotov cocktails.
Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine drew swift condemnation from the international community. The European Union and the United States levied harsh sanctions on Russia following the invasion, hobbling the country’s economy and tanking the value of the Russian ruble.
Russia’s central bank has more than doubled interest rates in a bid to control rampant inflation after the sanctions took hold.
Switzerland, a country synonymous with neutrality, has also sided against Russia. The country has applied sanctions against Russia alongside other EU nations, marking the first time in over a century that the country has broken its neutrality.
Vladimir Putin has escalated geopolitical tensions by ordering his nuclear armaments to their maximum state of readiness. He has decried the sanctions against Russia as violations of international law.
The Russian Defense Ministry characterizes its invasion of Ukraine as a special operation aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine, stating it doesn’t plan to conquer and hold territory.
The Ukrainian military has fought bitterly to retain control of key locations like the capital city, Kyiv. Some outlets report that Russia has suffered stiffer personnel losses than expected, and the war effort is becoming unpopular at home.
Russian authorities have arrested over 6,000 anti-war protesters since Thursday. Some reports indicate that the invasion is even unpopular among government officials, with many unsure of Putin’s goals in Ukraine.
One thing is certain: the Ukrainian military has fought harder than anyone expected. With international support at their backs and a wavering opponent ahead of them, Ukraine’s defenders have battled back a significantly larger and better-equipped military force. Time will tell if their efforts can turn the tide of a confusing and frightening war.