Ukrainian soldier during the crisis in Ukraine

Russia’s large-scale offensive brings total shock to Kiev within hours and causes dozens of deaths

There are dates and times that go down in history: February 24 at four o’clock in the morning. Vladimir Putin carried out his implicit threat with a large-scale offensive against Ukraine and Europe is already immersed in a military operation on a scale not seen on the Old Continent since the Second World War. It is no longer a Cold War, but has been ignited. The Kremlin has always denied the suspicions the West has had for months; it accused the US and NATO of “hysteria”. But now the war is already a reality, and it has claimed its first victims, with both sides already clashing at the Hostomel airfield, 35 kilometers from Kiev. Western partners are pursuing two avenues: sanctions and logistical support to a country, Ukraine, which seems to be at the mercy of whatever Moscow decides to do.

“The Donbas people’s republics turned to Russia with a request for help. In this regard, I decided to carry out a special military operation. Its purpose is to protect people who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years.” With those three sentences Putin pressed the red button and the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on several fronts (from the east, with the Donbas, to the north, through Belarus). The goal? According to the Kremlin only one: “to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine”. Putin, all in all, tried to justify himself by claiming that what is happening is “a forced measure” in the face of the “security risks” Russia faces. “There was no other option,” he said at a meeting with businessmen with which he wanted to show that he is prepared for retaliation from the West.

For the time being, the first hours of the invasion have already left hundreds dead, with air strikes and Ukrainian forces mobilized at the gates of Kiev to defend themselves from the Russian attack on the capital, near where the Russian army shelled several sites. In this regard, Putin’s focus is on the government of Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine, he said, “will be solely responsible for bloodshed.” Russian troops also seized the Chernobyl power plant, where the biggest atomic disaster the world has ever known took place. In the amalgam of movements there has also been the closure of Ukrainian airspace.

From Kiev, Zelenski himself decreed the imposition of a curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., at the same time he has decreed that the subway stations are enabled as shelters 24 hours a day. “This is a forced step, but in the current conditions of military aggression and martial law, it is necessary for the safety of the capital’s people,” he maintained, while calling on the Russian population to “take to the streets” to show their opposition to Putin’s decisions. And he had a warning for the West: “If you don’t help us now, the war will come to your countries”.

The Ukrainian government has demanded that among the sanctions being finalized by its Western partners for the Russian invasion should also be the exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT mechanism, which facilitates banking transactions worldwide, and the imposition of a no-fly zone. This was conveyed by Zelenski to several European leaders and repeated by his foreign minister, Dimitro Kuleba.

Europe admits that the measures that may be taken against Russia from now on will also have “a hard impact” for Western countries, but it has decided to play the game on those terms because Putin has decided to shake up the global chessboard in a way that has been almost unprecedented. “There will be a new reality. There will be a new Europe after the invasion that we have seen,” warned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who in any case does not envisage deploying allied forces in Ukraine, but does envisage reinforcing military presence in countries that are part of the bloc.

movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine
movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine. Photo: OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. CC BY 2.0.

But six nations have called for the activation of Article 4 of the text uniting the allied countries, which opens up the possibility of intervention if the territorial integrity or independence of a country is “threatened”. As many as eight allied ambassadors, from Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland, had requested consultations invoking this article of the Washington Treaty, the document that formed the Atlantic Alliance, in another step that has few precedents in history.

-Thailand News (TN)

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