On Thursday, Feb. 24 at 5 a.m., Russia launched a strategic missile attack against Ukraine, targeting several of Ukraine’s largest cities after escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine as Ukraine moves to join NATO and the EU.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian Armed Forces would be conducting a “special military operation” in the eastern region of Ukraine in a video broadcast from Moscow.
Putin also requested for Ukrainian forces to lay down their weapons and warned other countries not to interfere or it would lead to “consequences they have never seen.”
The first round of missile strikes from Russia was reported to be near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and by the Kyiv airport. Hours later, reports of a Russian invasion by land and sea through neighboring countries Crimea and Belarus was also observed.
U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the actions of Russia shortly after the attacks.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said. “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way.”
The actions of Russia have been met with international condemnation from world leaders and organizations abroad.
“These are among the darkest hours of Europe since the Second World War,” EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said.
Following the Russian attacks on Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine officially announced that they have initiated the procedure to severe diplomatic relations in accordance with the norms established by international law.
“Our country took this step in response to acts of military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine said in a written statement. “We emphasize that the Russian offensive operation is an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, a gross violation of the UN Charter, and the established norms and principles of international law.”
Days leading up to the attacks were filled with several world leaders attempting to prevent the Russia-Ukraine conflict from escalating. On the same day of the attack, the UN Security Council met to discuss peaceful resolutions between the two countries.
“In the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. “In the name of humanity to not start what may be the most devastating war since the start of the century.”
NATO members Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and other allies agreed to hold consultations discussing Article 4 of the NATO Treaty following the Russian attacks on Ukraine.
Article 4 states that “the Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.” By invoking Article 4, NATO allies would consider proceeding with military counteraction against the Russian Federation.
On Feb. 25, a day after Russian attacks on Ukraine, Biden announced in a press statement that the U.S., along with other leading nations, would be enacting strict sanctions on Russia. The sanctions, Biden claims, would aim to have a severe impact on Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to technology.
“The impact of these measures will be significantly magnified due to historical multilateral cooperation with a wide range of Allies and partners who are mirroring our actions, inhibiting Putin’s ambition to diversify Russia’s brittle, one-dimensional economy,” Biden said.
The conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation has also been noted by Eastern Michigan University President James Smith as well.
“For our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have Ukrainian heritage, some who may have families caught in this desperate situation, we stand with you,” Smith said in a written statement.
Those interested in providing aid and support to the Ukrainian people during this time can reach out to organizations such as World Central Kitchen, Caritas Ukraine, Nova Ukraine, and the United Help Ukraine.