But it’s clear, this is a full scale invasion.
“There was total panic. Hysteria. Tears.’
“The flame was higher than the house.”
“We’re like, in a cellar.”
“I’m not sure if it’s like deep enough to help us to survive.”
Russian troops and tanks have entered Ukraine on all fronts.
All these cities are under attack, including the capital of Kyiv
which has become Putin’s main target.
Many are sheltering in basements and metro stations across Ukraine.
There have been hundreds of casualties and over half a million Ukrainians
have been forced to flee their homes.
This is one of Europe’s largest wars since World War II.
Since then, Europe’s map has been shaped by political alliances.
But now, Putin wants to redraw Europe’s map by force.
Putin has long claimed Ukraine belongs to Russia and they are one people.
“We’re not just close neighbors, we’re one nation.”
But Ukraine is a sovereign nation with its own language, culture, and political system.
And while the two countries do have a shared history
Ukraine has fought hard for its own identity.
Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1917, the Russian Revolution brought down the empire
and the region spiraled into a civil war.
Ukraine briefly gained independence from Russian rule
but was quickly taken over by the newly created Soviet Union
as one of its first republics.
Over the next decade, the Soviet Union brutally expanded its control.
And by the end of WWII, it forged a sphere of influence over here.
While the west held its influence over here.
Essentially dividing Europe and marking the beginning of the Cold War.
The Soviet Union installed communist governments on their side
which were easy for them to control.
But the west developed into democracies with capitalist economies.
The deep ideological divide fueled distrust and tensions between the two sides.
And soon these spheres hardened into military alliances.
In 1949, these countries along, with the US and Canada
formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO
and promised to defend each other from invasion.
A few years later, these countries joined the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact alliance.
And each side built up its military to protect itself from the other.
Europe remained this way for decades, until one side finally collapsed.
By late 1991, republics like Ukraine began declaring independence from Soviet domination.
The Soviet Union dissolved into 15 independent countries, including a much weaker Russia.
And the Soviet sphere of influence disappeared
as many countries overthrew their communist governments.
Even though the Cold War ended
the alliance on the other side of Europe was still going strong.
In fact, it was expanding.
In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO.
In 2004, seven more countries joined.
That moved NATO into the old Soviet sphere of influence.
Making NATO’s border with Russia the longest it’s ever been.
Belarus, Ukraine, and Georgia were now the last post-Soviet countries left
between Russia and NATO.
But Ukraine and Georgia both wanted to join NATO for a long time.
And that made them prime targets for Russia.
Ukraine became a NATO partner in 1994
which brought them a step closer to becoming a member.
“Ukraine will be in NATO.”
“This is a historic event for our people.”
And in 2013, they were going to sign an association agreement with the European Union.
But when it came time to sign the deal
Ukraine’s pro-Russian government refused.
Instead they chose to strengthen ties with Russia.
After the decision was announced, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets
to demand the agreement be signed.
[chanting] Ukraine is Europe! Ukraine is Europe!
After months of peaceful protests, the Ukrainian president cracked down
and killed more than 100 people.
Sparking more protests which eventually drove the president out of office and the country.
This meant Putin would lose political influence over Ukraine.
So he decided to use force instead.
First, he invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Then, Russia-backed separatists captured the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk
and declared them independent of Ukraine.
Since then, Ukraine has been locked in a conflict with Russia that has killed 14,000 people
and displaced nearly 2 million people.
For nearly eight years, Putin has held on to these regions
destabilizing Ukraine, and keeping it from moving closer to the west.
But in November 2021, Putin decided to go all in.
Satellite images showed at least 100,000 Russian troops and military equipment
piling up along the border of Ukraine.
Putin repeatedly denied any plans to invade.
But weeks later, he presented his demands to the west.
His main demand was that NATO stop expanding
and move its military borders back to where they were in 1997
away from Russia’s.
Western leaders rejected his demands.
Instead, they put forces on standby and reinforced their military presence in Eastern Europe.
Back at Ukraine’s border, Russian troops continued to gather.
And over here, along its border with Belarus, Russia began conducting huge military drills.
On February 21st, the threat of war became real.
“I consider it necessary to take a long-overdue decision
and to immediately recognize the independence
and sovereignty of the Donesk People’s Republic
and the Lugansk People’s Republic.”
His troops immediately crossed the Ukrainian border into Russian-backed separatist regions
under the pretense of peacekeeping.
Ukraine announced a state of emergency
and President Zelensky made a direct appeal to the Russian people.
“A war will take away guarantees from everyone.”
“No one will have security guarantees.”
“Who will suffer the most? The people.”
“Who doesn’t want it the most? The people.”
“Who can stop it? The people.”
Hours later on February 24th
Putin launched a full-scale invasion in Ukraine.
World leaders have spoken out against Russia’s invasion.
“We condemn this barbaric attack and the cynical arguments to justify it.”
“This hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”
“Putin chose this war
and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”
Anti-war protests have broken out around the world.
Including in Russia, despite the risk of arrest.
Neighboring nations have opened their borders
as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians attempt to flee.
NATO’s response force has been activated for the first time in history.
And the US has sent additional troops to eastern Europe.
But in many ways, the world is treading carefully.
Putin controls the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons
and has already threatened anyone who might interfere.
“Whoever tries to stop us
should know that Russia’s response will be immediate.”
“And will lead to such consequences
that you have never faced in your history.”
So countries around the world are imposing some of the harshest economic sanctions
to slow Putin down.
And sending tons of military aid to support Ukraine.
For now, Russian forces keep pushing deeper, but Ukraine is fighting back.
“We are all here protecting our independence, our country.”
“And we are going to continue to do so.”
Inside Demolished Ukrainian City
But it’s clear, this is a full scale invasion.