Updated: Feb 28
For several weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept the world on edge with talks of a potential invasion into Ukraine while his well-armed troops in massive numbers have been positioned on the Russia-Ukraine border. We've held our breath, wondering, "When will it happen?" and "Will it happen?" As of today, Russia has followed through on its threats and commenced a full-scale attack on the bordering nation.
Here's a breakdown of what's ensued so far:
On Wednesday, February 23rd, the United States followed the lead of the European Union and U.K. by imposing aggressive sanctions on Russia in light of the likely invasion. President Biden saying, “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?” Shortly after, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a stark message to citizens encouraging them to take up arms and brace for violence.
Clearly unaffected by warnings from prominent world leaders, Putin initiated Russia's first attack on Ukraine early this morning. According to a U.S. defense official, the initial attack involved 75 heavy and medium bombers and over 100 missiles of various types. While reports are still coming in, an advisor to Ukraine's president confirmed that at least 40 people have been killed so far.
An explosion rocks the Melitopol airbase in southeastern Ukraine. Source: Rob Lee on Twitter
Reports suggest that Russia is poised to take control of key population areas in Ukraine; hence, these strategic explosions:
In unleashing Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, President Vladimir Putin deflected global condemnation and cascading new sanctions — and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any foreign country attempting to interfere with “consequences you have never seen.” -AP News
As the invasion is sending literal and figurative shockwaves throughout the globe, stock markets are crashing—with the Dow Jones dropping more than 600 points—and prices of oil, gold, and wheat are soaring. Nevertheless, our eyes are on Ukraine where people are fleeing in droves, families are choosing between safety and togetherness, and some are narrowly escaping death.
A chilling image of a 53-year-old teacher, Helena, weeping and wounded at the site of what used to be her apartment complex in Chuhuiv, Ukraine, a town south of Kharviv. Source: Justin Yau for Sipa USA. Correction: Now known to be from years prior and not in relation to the attacks In 2022.
An emotional goodbye as a father stays to defend Ukraine and sends his family to the safe zone. Source: Ukraine News Live on Twitter
Correction: Evidence has surfaced of this clip being from a Ukrainian film and not an actual clip from the attacks in 2022
Despite the turmoil on civilians, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak has reported heavy fighting at Hostomel airport, about 21 miles northwest of the capital, Kyiv. He also added that one of Russia’s goals “is to remove top authorities” in the city. Podolyak along with other Ukrainian government officials are now pleading with the international community for help as the Ukraine military and armed civilians struggle to combat the Russian forces.
In response to Russia's launch of outright war, global leaders are issuing more aggressive sanctions in an attempt to counteract one of Europe's "gravest security crises since World War II," says CBS News. In terms of sending troops, President Biden declared, "Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east."
Speaking from the White House, Biden criticized President Vladimir Putin for his "naked aggression against Ukraine" and vowed to make the Russian leader a "pariah on the international stage." -CBS News
By contrast, and notably so, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had far less harsh words, calling for peace from "all parties" yet reinforcing the strategic partnership between China and Russia, and insisting trade would persist. This comes just one day after an ominous report from The Washington Post revealed that Ming Jinwei, senior editor at Xinhua News Agency, accidentally shared his WeChat blog where he instructed his outlet to "back Russia up with emotional and moral support." Since President Xi Jinping of China has previously made his intentions clear when it comes to "reuniting" with Taiwan, this "accident" could very well serve as a hint for what's next.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Leader Xi Jinping Source: AP News
Thus, the concern doesn't end with Ukraine. It stretches to Ukraine's neighboring countries, to Taiwan, and beyond—with repercussions that will undoubtedly be felt everywhere. The Covid emergency might still be looming, but this emergency takes precedence, and the world is watching. Tomorrow, NATO leaders will hold a virtual summit to discuss the alliance’s reaction to the invasion, an official said, and Red Liberty Media will keep you updated.
But the glaring question remains: Is this the beginning of World War III?