Independence Under Attack

What is the reality behind Putin’s invasion


Joseph Salcido, Deputy Editor

Understanding the war in Ukraine and the facts surrounding it seems like something that should be reasonably easy. But it almost becomes overwhelming with so many different views on how and why this is happening. We all get our news differently and have different political opinions, but that does not change what is happening in Ukraine.

The war began with a false pretext from Russian President Vladimir Putin of genocide against Russian Ukrainians. Putin stated that Russian separatists needed to be liberated in the eastern borders of Ukraine and that he would gain control and have those areas returned to the Russian people.

To understand the motivation behind Putin’s invasion, you must look back on his time as a KGB officer for the Soviet Union in 1989, where he watched the Berlin Wall fall and eventually the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Putin is not a fan of democracy and craves authoritarian rule. Scott Moore, a professor from Eastern Connecticut State University who specializes in European History stated in a presentation: “Putin believed the breakup of the Soviet Union to be the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century… the fall of a global empire.” 

Moore added that Putin comes from a line of thinking that favors authoritarian leadership. “He is deeply distrustful of the power of people to control their own destinies,” Moore said.

When Putin was made acting President in 1999, he began shifting Russia away from the democracy it was headed toward and covertly giving power back to any oligarchs who pledged loyalty to him. These oligarchs have become a massive part of why Putin has stayed in power for nearly 18 years. The Russian government has gained control of the country’s media and educational system; this plays a massive part in why Putin continues to draw support for his war with most of the Russian people. Putin has been able to control the narrative that Ukraine is evil and continues to threaten the Russian people.

NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – and its expansion, which now consists of 30 allied nations all sworn to come to each other’s defense in times of war, has only further angered Putin. The Russian president has done everything he can to destabilize the European Union, which is pro-democracy. He has used military and cyber tactics to increase authoritarian regimes’ strength, and even influenced elections in other countries, including here in the United States. All of this is to gain back the former power and influence of the Soviet Union that Putin so desperately craves.

With Ukraine trying to become part of NATO, Putin has become an increasing threat as democracy pushes closer toward Russia.

“Ukraine is a new democracy that has clearly turned away from Russia and to the West, and it’s now threatened,” Professor Caitlin Carenen, a specialist in American foreign policy at Eastern Connecticut State University, said in early March.

This war is a fight for democracy and the right to independence as a country, and Putin will do whatever he can to stop the expansion at any cost. The Ukrainian people have been putting up an incredible fight, and when this war began, there was little hope that Ukraine would survive. With sanctions piling up on Russia, its military has seen a massive drop in strength as convoys have been backed up for weeks at a time due to fuel shortages, and soldiers have been unable to get food.

With the help of many allies around the world stepping up with aid, Ukraine has been able to arm themselves and take the fight to Russia. The world uniting against Putin has given Ukraine the ability to win this war, and democracy may once again prevail over authoritarian rule.