The Russian invasion of Ukraine entered Day 5 today with no signs of relentless violence ceasing in the former Soviet Republic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in an aggressive move has ordered the country’s nuclear forces to be on high alert claiming “unfriendly steps” from the West. Russia has the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenal and a massive number of ballistic missiles. The US slammed Putin’s move calling it “totally unacceptable”.
What we know so far about the Ukraine-Russia war:
There has been a pause on the attacks on the Kyiv axis on February 26-27 and Russian forces are likely to resume operations soon. Ukraine has been holding off well but may not be able to do so if Moscow deploys additional reserves, the Institute for the Study of War said in a report.
A delegation from Ukraine will be meeting Russian officials on the Belarusian border today – the first contact between the two countries since the violence erupted. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is however pessimistic that the dialogue will yield any results but said if there is a chance to end the war, he wants to try every possible way.
Russian forces entered the northeastern city of Kharkiv for the first time on Sunday but the province’s governor dismissed reports of a takeover. “Control over Kharkiv is completely ours,” Governor Oleh Sinegubov wrote on social media.
Moscow said it was besieging the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk – located close to the Crimean Peninsula – which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The European Union announced direct military aid to Ukraine for the first time in EU history on February 27. Sweden, which hasn’t sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1939, has also offered military assistance.
EU member states have also shut their airspace to Russian aircraft.
NATO will also deploy its rapid response force for the first time to bolster its eastern flank.
The United Nations General Assembly will hold a rare emergency session today to discuss the escalating crisis.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian, in an unprecedented show of courage, has stayed back in Kyiv defending the country and refused to get evacuated. "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelensky said turning down an US offer of evacuation.
The Russian ruble fell almost 30 percent on Monday morning as countries continue to heavily sanction Moscow. Kremlin has brushed off the sanctions, including those targeting Putin personally, as a sign of Western impotence, news agency AFP reported. Boycott of Russian products is also on with US and Canada getting rid of Russian vodka from stores across the country.
Defiant Ukrainians have put up a brave fight on the ground fearlessly facing Russians and attacking them with homemade weapons like Molotov cocktails. Many have confronted military tanks trying to stop them from passing through and even soldiers on ‘Snake Island’ refused to surrender and hurled expletives at Russians before getting killed in an exemplary show of courage.
Putin has called his actions justified saying Russia is defending Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government for eight years in a conflict that has killed more than 14,000 people.
352 civilian deaths have been reported by Ukraine so far, AFP reports. The figure includes 14 children as well. Russia has acknowledged that a number of its forces had been killed or injured. The EU has said that more than 7 million people could be displaced by the raging conflict.
In November last year, satellite images revealed a build-up of 1,00,000 Russian troops and heavy military equipment along the borders of Ukraine.
The Kremlin had a host of security demands for the West. Russia insisted that NATO must assure that Ukraine will never be admitted as a member. Russia also demanded that NATO must cease all military activity in eastern Europe. US President Joe Biden dismissed the demands and warned Russia against invading Ukraine which Putin brushed off by declaring war in a surprise announcement last week.(With inputs from AFP)