The Russian Army, by order of President Vladimir Putin, began an attack with missiles and heavy artillery against targets in different parts of the territory of Ukraine at dawn this Thursday, with the entry of troops from Belarus, Russia and Crimea.
The Russian leader assures that it is not directed against inhabited areasbut the Ukrainian authorities have reported the deaths of both soldiers and civilians. The professor of International Law and International Relations at Comillas Pontifical University, José Ángel López, tells RTVE.es that “a whole series of circumstances have made Putin sits strong enough” to take this step makes war in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government has responded by declaring martial law and announcing the distribution of weapons also among civilians. Thousands of Ukrainians have started flee from the bombings across the border in the direction of Romania, Moldova and Slovakia. “It will cause very important waves of migration”affirms the professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid, María José Pérez del Pozo.
NATO has called a meeting for this Friday in which the leaders of its 30 member countries they will decide how to respond to Russian aggression.
What targets is the Russian Army attacking and what is Putin looking for?
Hours after the United States assured that Russia had everything ready to begin an invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president has ordered this morning a “special military operation” in the Donbas region with the aim of “protecting the people” of the Donetsk and Lugansk Territories “who have been subjected to abuse and genocide”. Putin insists that the military operation is in self-defense and states that he has no plans to occupy Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs has reported that Russia is attacking military command centers, airports, air bases and air defense systems in the capital, Kiev, and in other cities. Russian armored cars arrived at the second largest Ukrainian city, Kharkiv and the Russian forces would have already arrived in Kiev, 9 kilometers from the Parliament, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. The Ukrainian Border Guard Service has also announced that the Russian troops have crossed the Vilcha border pointwhich is located in the Kiev region about 50 kilometers from the border with Belarus.
Russian troops are entering Ukrainian territory from Russia -at the height of Odessa and Kharkov-, Crimea and Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied that soldiers of his country in the Russian military operation.
“Analysts have failed. We did not foresee an attack of these characteristics. We could play with the scenario that (Russia) was going to join Donbas or recognize independence, but not a massive attack against Ukraine”, says María José Pérez del Pozo. “I had made the decision a long time ago. He has despised the last blows of diplomacy, ”says Pérez del Pozo, who emphasizes that “You really don’t know how far Putin’s plan is going to go.”
For his part, José Ángel López indicates that “there are a series of circumstances” that have made Russia feel “with enough strength versus weakness shown at the beginning because the answer has always been a series of sanctions”. “There are sanctions since 2014 and it does not seem that they have affected him too much”, emphasizes López, who assures that Ukraine “plays a very important role from a strategic point of view”. “We’ll see how far the intervention goesif it really stops in the eastern districts and in the Crimean area to consolidate those positions or goes further”, he asserts.
How has Ukraine responded?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced this Thursday that your country has severed diplomatic relations with Moscow after the Russian military aggression on Ukrainian soil and has declared martial law.
After the start of the Russian military operation, the president has decreed the general mobilization of Ukrainian troops and has closed the airspace. Ukraine has also issued a call to arms for volunteers from the Territorial Defense Units, made up of civilians willing to defend the country in the event of a Russian invasion.
“Anyone who is ready and capable of holding a weapon can join the Territorial Defense Units in their region,” the military formation announced in a statement, in which it reports that to obtain weapons, it is enough to present yourself at the battalion headquarters. regional.
Zelensky has emphasized that the Ukrainian army is engaged in “heavy fighting” and has ordered his forces to inflict the “maximum losses” possible on the Russian invader. The Ukrainian president reports that at least 137 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 316 injured.
The Russian Army is far superior in human strength and materials to that of Ukraine. “There is one Ukrainian soldier for every four Russian soldiers and Ukraine can create half of the tactical battalion groups that Russia can form,” Mykola Bielieskov, an analyst at the National Institute of Strategic Research in Ukraine, explains to RTVE.es.
What has been the reaction of the Ukrainian population?
After Putin announced that he would take a definitive step to help separatist rebels who control part of the Donbas region, the alarms have sounded this morning in Kiev to warn of an imminent threat.
Despite the fact that the president of Ukraine has asked the citizens to calm down and to stay at home, many residents of Kiev are fleeing the capital, which has generated large traffic jams to get out of the city.
“The conflict generates a very serious instability, logically. Besides, I sense that it will provoke very important waves of migration”, indicates Pérez del Pozo. “It is logical that this exit is going to take place in one way or another due to a human issue. Fear is free and that is going to create some instability in the Eastern countries”, he adds.
Hundreds of Ukrainians have crossed into Romania and about 2,000 have crossed into Moldova. Hundreds of citizens have also addressed the border with Slovakia to try to enter that country. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 100,000 people have left their homes in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.
In addition, the beginning of the Russian invasion has also caused queues at gas stations, ATMs and supermarkets in different parts of Ukraine, and many citizens are taking refuge in the metro stations in Kiev.
How has the Russian attack on Ukraine affected the markets?
The Russian invasion has affected to financial assets, to the price of oil and all stock markets have opened sharply lower.
The bags have collapsed more than 3.5% after the Russian attacks. As for the Ibex 35, it maintained a fall of 4.02% and the rest of the stock markets in Europe have also continued with losses, with falls of 4.32% in Paris, 4.17% in Milan, 4.41% in Frankfurt and 2.9% in London. For their part, the The main selective of the Moscow Stock Exchange have fallen by around 30%.
The Stock markets in Southeast Asia have also been affected due to the beginning of the invasion and the greatest decline was recorded by Singapore, where the stock market fell by 3.45%.
At the same time, Brent crude prices have risen above $100 a barrela rise that means that oil is at a maximum not seen since 2014.
How have the United States and its allies reacted?
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, have called Russia to stop “immediately” the attack against Ukraine, which they consider “unjustified”. They have also announced “massive sanctions” against Moscow with the aim of sinking the Russian economy.
Hungary is a member country of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance that has close ties with Russia. In this sense, José Ángel López warns that “we’ll see what happens with partners and allies like Hungary when approving sanctions”. “They cannot maintain good relations with Russia and at the same time be within the European Union sanctions package,” she stresses.
The United States has already imposed a series of sanctions against banks in Moscow and the companies that participate in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which links Russia with Germany, but has reserved sanctions that he has described as “very harsh” and that will be announced this Thursday.
“It is a gradual process. Everyone, I sense, is looking at everyone, if new sanctions are going to be applied by the United States and much more drastic ones by the EU. That will have too strong consequences on the Russian economy”, emphasizes Pérez del Pozo. “To the extent that those sanctions could hurt Russia it is possible that the bellicose spirits on the part of Putin will calm down, but perhaps not“, Add.
Several NATO allies that border Russia have asked the Atlantic Alliance for help because they feel threatened. Countries such as Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, among others, have requested that article 4 is activatedwhich is launched when one of the member countries feels threatened.
The Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, has warned that “an attack on one of us will be seen as an attack on all of us” and has stressed that NATO is planning activate a defense plan to send air, land and sea troops, something that will be decided at the virtual summit of the leaders convened for this Friday.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.