TPF Newsblast 

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE

Sam Ferrera, Isabel Tribe, and Sofia Williams

  • ​Hordes of Ukrainian citizens moving west in hopes of sanctuary or seeking protection in subways or bomb shelters.

  • Late on Thursday, Ukraine’s Health Minister Oleh Lyashko said 57 had been killed and 169 wounded during Russian explosions.

  • NATO allies have sent additional troops and military equipment to Ukraine to help protect Kyiv against potential ground invasion by Russian forces.

What's Happening?

  • Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on the morning of Thursday, February 24, by launching shells and rocket attacks on several major cities, including Kyiv, the capital city.

  • The attacks are part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged attempts to “demilitarize” Ukraine without formal occupation.​​

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Background

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the North American Treaty Alliance (NATO) expanded to include countries that border Russia, such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. 

  • Because of Ukraine’s geographic, cultural, and political affiliations with Russia, Putin has prevented the nation from joining NATO since it gained independence.

  • Recently, the US and NATO denied Putin’s demands that Ukraine never join NATO, that NATO dramatically reduces its forces in Eastern European member states, and that the 2015 ceasefire in Ukraine be implemented.

  • Moscow’s aggressive stance on the issue has sparked a rise in Ukrainian nationalism, with citizen militias preparing for a long term guerilla campaign against invading Russian forces.

Ukrainian Response

The New York Times
Al Jazeera
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  • Russian-backed separatists evacuated several thousand Ukrainians to Russia via bus, citing false accusations that the Ukrainian government was planning an attack on the territory. Women, children, and elderly were given priority.

  • Most evacuees from rebel-held eastern Ukraine have already been granted Russian citizenship or are native to Russia. 

  • This evacuation came amid intensified shelling in a series of false flag operations staged to justify the Russian invasion. 

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult for Ukrainian civilians to escape to safety, with traffic, Ukrainian troops, ambulances, and debris crowding streets.

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The New York Times
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Reuters
  • President Vladimir Zelensky of Ukraine gave a speech appealing to the citizens of Russia hours before the invasion began on Wednesday, February 23. 

  • He emphasized the close relationship many Ukrainians and Russians have with each other as relatives, friends, and peers at university. He criticized Putin’s campaign to ‘liberate’ Ukraine, stating: “the Ukrainian people are free.” 

  • He dismissed Russian-propogated claims that the Ukrainian government is controlled by Nazis and has plans to attack the separtist states Donetsk and Luhansk.

  • He asserted Ukraine’s desire for peaceful independence from Russia. 

  • He and other Ukrainian government leaders remain in Kyiv, the capital city. 

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The New York Times
Al Jazeera
  • On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Parliament declared a state of emergency for 30 days. On Thursday, President Zalensky imposed martial law

  • These declarations allow the Ukrainian government to restrict freedom of movement of conscripted reservists, control the distribution of media, impose personal document checks, and establish curfews.

Al Jazeera

Voices of the People

Foreign Policy

International Response

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  • Young Ukrainians in front line territory are being forced to choose between their Russian and Ukrainian identities. Some are electing to speak only Ukraine as an act of patriotism. 

  • Despite Putin’s harsh warnings against foreign intervention in the conflict, many nations have spoken up in defense of Ukraine.

  • The UN Security Council met on Friday to vote on a resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine—a resolution Russia vetoed.

  • The European Union agreed on Tuesday to impose sanctions on Russia in conjunction with Britain and the US.

  • While European sanctions are not as powerful as they could be, the 27-country union is Russia’s largest trading partner. 

  • Despite earlier claims that the pipeline was not a political project, German chancellor Olaf Scholz made clear that he would be willing to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2 as a measure to halt Russian invasion.

  • UNICEF predicts that if the fighting in Ukraine continues, 7.5 million children will be affected and tens of thousands of families forcibly displaced. 

  • The primary threats to the wellbeing of eastern Ukrainian children are damaged water infrastructure and disrupted education. With a health system already overwhelmed by covid, children impacted by the violence may not have access to the care they need. 

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CBC
UNICEF
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Time
BBC
The New York Times

Support Ukrainian Voices

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  • Thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities to protest Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Protestors were met with police in helmets and full gear, who dispersed demonstrations and detained over 1,300 people across the country.

  • Hundreds of Ukrainians and New Yorkers marched through Manhattan on Thursday afternoon in protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s aggressive sentiments against the Ukrainian people.

  • Protests were also held in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, and Paris. At all protest locations, participants held Ukrainian flags and posters.

Economic Impact

  • Wall Street saw immediate drops from the disruption and uncertainty of Russia’s invasion, but most major indexes still ended the day slightly up or at break-even. 

  • Oil and natural gas prices jumped up at the onset of the news, but fell as the United States and other nations issued statements assuring the release of strategic energy reserves. 

  • The disruption and uncertainty of the conflict adds to the already growing trend of global markets declining, and a protracted conflict could cause increases in prices of energy and other raw materials which would translate into spill-over effects for the larger economy and give the Federal Reserve and other central banks an even more difficult time with inflation.

  • Energy prices somewhat stabilized throughout the day but Russia’s role as a major provider of energy, especially natural gas, to Europe and the rest of the world will mean that a protracted conflict will create inflationary pressures in many European economies as well as the rest of the world through increased energy prices. At the very least, a more-involved conflict will lead to greater demand for energy, and less supply coming out of Russia. 

  • Inflation has already been a contributing factor to pandemic economic woes for families, and could get worse with the war. 

Putin's Disinformation Campaign

The Russian state has launched a disinformation campaign behind several misconceptions about the Ukrainian conflict:

  1. Ukraine is the aggressor.

  2. The West is pushing Ukraine into the conflict.

  3. Russia is not advancing into Ukrainian land but repositioning troops on its own territory.

  4. The United States has planned chemical weapons attacks in the Donbas.

  5. Russia is defending ethnic Russians in Ukraine against a government-sponsored extermination campaign. 

  6. Russia is defending the separatist states of Donbas and Luhansk from genocide by the Ukrainian state.

  7. NATO has plotted against Russia since the end of the Cold War by encircling Russia with forces, breaking supposed promises not to expand, and threatening Russia’s security with the prospect of Ukrainian membership in the Alliance. 

  8. Ukraine’s borders are an artificial creation of Soviet planners who severed Russian territory. 

  9. Ukraine and other former Soviet republics were manipulated into declaring independence from Moscow by self-interested opportunists.

The US State Department released a fact sheet correcting these false claims.

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The New York Times
United States Department of State
NBC
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The New York Times
Al Jazeera
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However, misleading videos have been promoted by the Ukrainian military as well, including a post from a verified Ukrainian military Facebook page that claimed to be Ukrainian military action but was discovered to be footage from a conflict in Syria in 2020. Another misappropriated video depicting a soldier parachuting from a plane that garnered almost 20 million views on TikTok was revealed to be a training exercise first posted online in April 2016.

Finger on the Pulse...

  • One in two Russians feel the use of force is justified to keep Ukraine out of NATO.

  • 64% of Russians say Russians and Ukrainians are one people—only 28% of Ukrainians agree. This attitude reflects Putin’s insistence that “modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era,” an incorrect statement as the term Ukraine has been used since the 1600s.  

  • However, the majority of Russians (54%) and Ukrainians (85%) believe they should remain two separate countries. 

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Opinion

  • New York Times foreign affairs opinion columnist Thomas L. Friedman argues that the United States’ decision to expand NATO in late 1990s and early 2000s to counties in Eastern and Central Europe provoked the beginning of a ‘new cold war,’ humiliating Putin and laying the groundwork for the current aggression towards Ukraine.

  • Kathryn Stoner is a political science professor at Stanford University. She writes: “There is in Ukraine an existential threat to Putin’s personal and autocratic regime: the example of a resilient, robust, pluralistic democracy next door in a country whose history is intertwined with Russia’s own…This system — not NATO — is the real threat to the aging autocrat, and it will take maximum pressure from the West and by Russians themselves to persuade him to back down.”

  • The fact that Putin only listens to China’s Xi Jinping and a small group of wealthy allies is the ‘true failure of European diplomacy over the past 30 years,’ writes Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins. However, those select few have the power to preserve peace in eastern Europe, and Western leaders must appeal to them. 

  • “I believe, and hope, that there will be no escalation of the conflict, but sanctions for Russia will be monstrous. There will be global isolation for us. The official position of the Kremlin is the demilitarisation and denationalisation of Ukraine. I don’t know how to live with this: it’s a shame and disgrace. But no form of protest is possible with us. Absolutely none. It’s the feeling of a helpless hostage.”

  • James Hershberg, a professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, wrote in Foriegn Affairs that Putin “made his career” in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s former intelligence service, and views the Cold War’s rivalry and nuclear stalemate fondly as a result. Because of this, Hershberg asserts, “[Putin’s] attack against Ukraine is buttressing Ukrainian opposition to Russian influence and breathing new life into and unifying the Western alliance.”

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