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A Rundown of the Ukraine War

Cover photo from Boston Globe by Heidi Levine: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/03/04/world/how-could-russia-ukraine-war-end-experts-point-number-possibilities/

It’s news to no one that the world is crazy right now. There seems to be a constant cacophony of bad news blaring from just about every outlet imaginable. At the forefront of these catastrophes is the war in Ukraine that began all the way back on February 24, 2022. The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, launched this invasion under the guise of a righteous crusade against the oppression of Russians in Ukraine (CPA, 2022). Whether you believe his justifications or not, it’s clear to see that the damage has been done.


Damage in Numbers


Statistics from the Global Conflict Tracker state that, as of July 2022, there have been five thousand civilian deaths, six thousand civilian injuries, and seven million displaced people. These figures are only from reported cases from February 24, 2022 onward.


This humanitarian crisis has also inevitably bled into a refugee crisis with countless bordering nations and NATO members trying to accommodate around six million people fleeing from Ukraine. However, ever since Russia enacted their military mobilization, countless Russian nationals have been crossing the border to avoid supporting the war. Flights to capitals of countries allowing non-visa Russians to enter were completely sold out the week over. In addition, “Russian-Georgian and Russian-Mongolian borders were “collapsing” with overwhelming traffic” says an eyewitness for the Guardian (The Guardian, 2022).


A Little Background


But how did we get to this point? Well, the story isn’t pretty. The modern iteration of the Ukraine-Russia conflicts began in 2014 with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, an island peninsula south of the Ukraine mainland. Once again, Putin points to liberating Russians in Crimea and southeastern Ukraine as the driving force behind the war. Now, it’s important to note that after the initial invasion, the annexation only arose once a referendum was held wherein Crimeans voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. Of course, many Ukrainians saw the referendum as unfavorable and even illegitimate. In the southeastern cities of Donetsk and Luhanske, independent referendums were held by pro-Russian separatists a few months after (CPA. 2022).


Now anyone who had been paying close attention to the Ukraine-Russian border would have been able to see the oncoming threat of a large-scale war. There were a few signs. First, all attempts at a peaceful deescalation fell through. The Minsk Accords, drafted by France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine in 2015, were seen in general good faith. However, diplomatic negotiations could not reconcile the demands for “ceasefire[s], withdrawal of heavy weaponry, and full Ukrainian government control throughout the conflict zone” (CPA, 2022). Second, both parties would begin an arms race as they piled troops and equipment at the borders. Right after Russia annexed Crimea, there was a reported increase of Russian military and infantry next to the aforementioned Donetsk. In response, NATO and its allying nations began military training and beefing to discourage further Russian movement into Ukraine.


Prior to the invasion in February, the world nations met together for an emergency UN Security Council meeting. Russia was determined to launch their entire military into Ukraine, specifically targeting ”military assets” during the campaign. Heavy economic sanctions were warned if Russia did push through with the invasion. The United States and other allied nations rejected Russia’s demands while Russia refused to back down. No resolution was passed and as we all know, the invasion proper began. In response, the economic sanctions threatened were enacted (CPA, 2022).


The Now Times


Currently, Russia has been trying to swallow up more Ukrainian territory in a similar fashion to Crimea. With referendums in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, an estimated 15% of the current Ukrainian territory is under contention (The Guardian, 2022). These referendums, like the ones before, have been largely dismissed by the western world as shames. These locations likely have Russian planted governments in power implementing much of these referendums. Nevertheless, Russia is trying to regain its moment with the aforementioned mobilization effort. Patriarch Kirill, an ally and Russian Orthodox leader, even absolved the sins of those who died for Russia. After withdrawing its military from Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, on April 6, Russia began focusing their endeavors on Ukraine’s eastern border . On October 10, after a slow down in Russian military activity, multiple civilian zones and energy plants were attacked in one of the biggest displays of Russian might since the beginning of the war. Hitting over fourteen regions, including the capital, this was a sharp response after attacks were done by the Ukrainian military on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. Most recently, Ukraine has been suffering from power shortages due to the countless missile attacks executed by the Russian forces (The Guardian, 2022).


In addition to this, Zaporzhzhia’s Nuclear Power Plant was captured by Russian forces sometime in August. This caused major concern in the international community who feared another nuclear meltdown might occur in the midst of the shelling and bombing. A mission to analyze the circumstances of the powerplant was taken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during early September. Their report suggested the creation of a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” since multiple protective features had been compromised (CPA, 2022).


Looking at the Ukrainians, it seems as if their determination is far from empty. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, pledged to respond in kind to each and every aggression of Russia. Northeastern and southern counter offensives have been revitalized by Ukrainian forces earlier this September. Ukrainians report that Kharkiv has been recaptured and that major Russian supply lines have been compromised. The United States has also pledged to support Ukrainian civilian security aid. They promise the distressed nation around $457.7 million to bolster national security and save civilian lives. In addition to this, the US has put a bill into congress promising an additional $12 billion in “new military and economic aid” (CPA, 2022).


What’s It To You?


There is much to be said about the socio-economic effects of the war on the rest of the world, but how does this war affect the Philippines? Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno dismisses the effects the war will have on the Philippine economy. He cites Russia and Ukraine’s generally negligible exposure to the Philippines, with over $120 million and $5 million in exports to Russia and Ukraine respectively. In addition to this, local banking deposit liabilities in Russia and Ukraine are “cumulatively less than 1%” (Cabuenas, 2022).


With regard to politics, the Philippines under the Duterte administration has made efforts to make friends with the Russian and Chinese leaders. In 2017, Russia began port calls, naval exercises, and arms sales with the Philippines. They signed a defense cooperation that year which ended with both countries sending troops to the respective capital of the other country. In spite of the recent efforts, the Philippines is still unequivocally linked to the United States. The Philippines is not nearly as dependent on Russia than it is on the US. Nevertheless, there is a fine line the Philippines must maintain as it sticks to its convictions while garnering favor with the rising powers. Currently, the Philippines condemns Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine (Espena, 2022).


However, as is often the case, those who are most affected are the poor. While the Philippines is relatively independent from the economic whims of Russia, the world economy at large is not. As the war continues, energy, oil, and food prices will continue to rise. The World Bank estimates that a 10% average price increase in cereal would push 1.1 million people (plus 1% poverty incidence) into poverty (defined as living on $3.20 a day). While the government has provided aid, in the form of fuel and commodity subsidies, the rising costs will definitely be felt. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there has been a 14.7% increase in the expenditures necessary for a family of five to be sustained (Php 10,532 in 2018 to Php 12,082 in 2021) (Rivas, 2022).


Closing the Curtains

The Ukraine war does not seem to be stopping any time soon. We can expect more hardship to follow, not just for the Ukrainian and Russian people but for the world as a whole. Power shortages, rising prices, and death seem to mark the following months. To top it all off, whispers of a resurgence in nuclear warfare have been steadily getting louder. Alas, it is not within the scope of this short summary to really speculate.


I am not qualified to be making any conclusions on this topic, but I do hope to give you all some respite in the midst of all this craziness. First of all, let’s be grateful that things haven’t completely fallen apart (yet). If you think about it, the world could be in much worse shape than it is now, but thanks to the work of amazing people doing amazing jobs, we can rest a bit easier. Second, while the world continues to spiral, we are to stand firmer and firmer in our beliefs and convictions. This is truly the opportunity to show the world who we are and why we do what we do. Lastly, this period in history is a time for change, and monumental change at that. A certain sect of thought believed history would end with World War II. It didn’t. It continues to ebb and flow and we are continually being pushed into its current. With the metamorphosis of the “world as we know it”, we must put our best foot forward and be the hope the world is sorely needing.


 

Bibliography


Cabuenas, J. V. (2022, April 11). Diokno: Philippine impact from Russia-Ukraine conflict limited with ‘minimal’ exposure, ‘negligible’ trade relations. GMA News. https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/economy/828140/diokno-philippine-impact-from-russia-ukraine-conflict-limited-with-minimal-exposure-negligible-trade-relati/story/


Center for Preventive Action [CPA]. (2022, October 20). Conflict in Ukraine. Global Conflict Tracker. https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ukraine


Espena, J. (2022, March 25). How the Russia-Ukraine War will impact Philippines-Russia relations. The Diplomat. https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/how-the-russia-ukraine-war-will-impact-philippines-russia-relations/


The Guardian. (2022, September 27). Russia-Ukraine war latest: What we know on day 216 of the invasion. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/27/russia-ukraine-war-latest-what-we-know-on-day-216-of-the-invasion


The Guardian. (2022, October 22). Russia-Ukraine war latest: what we know on day 241 of the invasion. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/22/russia-ukraine-war-latest-what-we-know-on-day-241-of-the-invasion


The Guardian. (2022, September 22). ‘I will cross the border tonight’: Russians flee after news of draft. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/22/my-heart-sank-with-news-of-draft-russians-flee-in-droves


Rivas, R. (2022, April 5). Russia-Ukraine war may worsen poverty in Philippines – World Bank. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/business/world-bank-sees-russia-ukraine-war-likely-worsening-poverty-philippines/


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