Updated: Aug 19, 2022
As most, if not all, are aware, the conflict in Russia and Ukraine has not lessened in severity since February 24, 2022, when Russia first invaded. Though in some ways this invasion was a shock to all, in reality, tensions have been growing between Russia and Ukraine for years. Let us go back in time to understand the root of the current conflict.
In the year 1922, the USSR was formed. The USSR, otherwise known as the Soviet Union, was a country made up of 15 republics, including Ukraine. Russia was the center of this country and was incredibly powerful for a good amount of the 69 years that it was in existence. The USSR had strong communist values, but by the year 1985, it's strength and superpower status was deteriorating. On March 11, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev steps onto the scene as the Soviet Union's new leader. He believed that the only way to keep the country's status from being lost was to allow the country to undergo reform and change. Some argue that the reforms he put in place happened too quickly, giving no time for the rest of the community to adjust, and others argue that his leadership had nothing to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union, that it was inevitable to begin with. Whatever the true reason may be, now was when many republics within it saw their chance to successfully break free. Ukraine was one of these countries, and on August 24, 1991, officially declared independence. Only a few months later, on December 25, 1991, did the Soviet Union officially collapse.
In 1994, Russia, Ukraine, The USA, and Britain signed an agreement called the Budapest Memorandum. This addressed multiple things, but most importantly, stated that if Ukraine gave over their large nuclear arsenal to Russia, Russia would refrain from taking their territory.
But what does Russia want with Ukraine now? Primarily, Ukraine has an abundance of natural resources. In fact, Ukraine is the 7th largest coal reserve, as well as the Europe's most sizable uranium deposit. Secondly, if the plan is to regain all territory formerly held by the Soviet Union, gaining Ukraine would be an essential step. Ukraine acts as a barrier between Russia and much of eastern Europe but gaining this piece of territory would give them a more direct path to many of the countries that they would hope to gain as their own. Our hearts go out to the people affected by this conflict, and we hope that the matter is resolved quickly.