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Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to harbor significant resentment against independent Ukraine, the country it still thinks of as a critical part of “Mother Russia”. Therefore, it considers the conquest of Ukraine as being vital for the restoration of its so-called “Historical Russia”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spared no effort to promote the false historical narrative that Ukrainians and Russians constitute one nation. Putin fervently wishes to reassemble the countries of the former Soviet Union and reverse what he calls the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” His ultimate goal is to ‘right the wrongs’, as he sees them, of the fall of the USSR in the Cold War, thirty years ago.

Putin wishes to reconstitute the entire European security architecture which will come at a huge cost to the West. His recent articles and speeches on the subject have reportedly become compulsory reading for the Russian military. They attempt to justify why Putin invaded Ukraine by erasing Ukrainian history and denying distinct Ukrainian culture and language the right to exist.

Having declared Independence in 1991, Ukraine has irrevocably chosen a completely different path – an independent path of democratic development, reform, and European integration. In contrast, the Kremlin has decided to go the way of conservation and groundless aspiration to restore its empire. 

Day of voting for the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine on 24 August 1991

Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, the pace of change has varied from one post-Soviet country to another. Some, such as Belarus, have slowed down and tried to hold on to their Soviet heritage; others leapt as far forward and as quickly as possible. The Baltic states and the former Warsaw Pact countries shrugged off their Soviet past and took steps to integrate with NATO and the EU in the early 1990s, completing the process by 2004 – just before Russian imperialism began to reemerge. Unfortunately, Ukraine and Georgia had not yet completed that path by then. Both were left outside the Euro-Atlantic community, and both became targets of military aggression by Russia, at the cost of lives and territory. 

It seems that the core values and DNA of Ukrainian society – a love of freedom, democracy, free-thinking, and European values – are values that are anathema to Putin; he can neither comprehend nor tolerate these values – and so instead he is seeking to destroy them. 

Yet another reason why is Russia at war with Ukraine. The military aggression and outright violation of all international norms and laws is the only thing that Russia is able to propose to encourage independent states to move within the orbit of the ‘Russian world’ – its neo-imperial project. 

Putin’s numerious attempts to falsely present Russia as the “victim defending itself from an ‘aggressive’ West”, NATO’s expansion, or “radical Nazis killing Russian-speaking citizens” are nonsensical and serve as a tool of reflective control in order to cover up Putin’s own aggressive ambitions. 

How long Russia has been attacking Ukraine?

The complicated history of Russian aggression against Ukrainians goes back centuries, but modern Russia’s war against Ukraine started in 2014, almost a decade ago. 

In February 2014, Russian troops illegally entered Crimea and soon after occupied the peninsula violating the internationally recognised Ukrainian border, dozens of international laws and treaties, as well as security guarantees under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. 

The Russian military convoy without any insignia near Sevastopol, Crimea, on March 10, 2014.
Photo: Baz Ratner / REUTERS

The same spring Russia invaded the East of Ukraine, and for the next eight years, the frontline had stretched across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russian occupation of 7% of Ukrainian territory continued behind the facade of “peace talks” and “ceasefire” until, in 2022, an open invasion of a much larger scale was launched by Russia.

Is Russia still invading Ukraine?

Ukrainian defenders made the initial plans of the invasion crumble and have since liberated the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, large parts of Kharkiv, and Kherson regions from the Russian occupation. The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to push on. However, no tremendous losses on the battlefields nor international repercussions that turned Russia into the most sanctioned country in the world made the aggressor state stop its bloody war as of 2024. 

And in almost two years of the full-scale war, the answer to the question “why is Russia invading Ukraine” became even more clear, outlined not just by Putin’s essays filled with imperialistic claims but also by everyday news.

Russia’s goals are spoken through reports of illegally deported children who are forced to adopt Russian passports and Russian culture. Through mass graves and torture chambers, discovered on territories liberated from Russian forces. Through countless homes, schools, museums, and hospitals turned into ruins by Russian missiles.

Ultimately, the answer is simple: a terrorist state that shuts down any expression of freedom can never understand, nor live with or next to, a country that represents the very essence of freedom. Therefore, Russia seeks to invade, destroy, and bomb into submission – and it is essential to ensure that it will never succeed.

heroic and dramatic pages of Ukrainian thousand-year-old history from the very beginning Read now