For the past month we’ve been watching horrific scenes from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s been hard to watch.
Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claims that he is “liberating” Ukraine from the Nazis. The charge is absurd but it calls for some background.
The nations of what we now call Europe and Eastern Asia have often had fluid borders. Suffice it to say that those who live in modern Ukraine claim their own culture and language.
After World War I they were seen as an independent until they were occupied by the newly formed USSR (Union of Socialist Soviet Republics). From 1920 until 1991 the border between Ukraine and the USSR were sufficiently porous that many ethnic Russians moved to Ukraine. This wasn’t much help to Ukraine as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin essentially attempted to starve the the people of Ukraine in the early 1930s. Ukraine was known as the “breadbasket” of the region because of its rich soil and huge crop yields. But Stalin forced farmers to turn over so much of their yield that between 1931 and 1934 between 4 and 5 million people died of starvation.
But by 1990 – 1991 the Soviet Union could not protect their people and it collapsed, allowing for the freedom of Ukraine and several other countries. In late 1989 the Berlin Wall was torn down and shortly after that East and West Germany reunited, ending Soviet rule in East Germany.
At the time an agent of the KGB, Russia’s spy agency, found himself in East Germany with an uncertain future. His name was Vladimir Putin.
In his climb to power he never forgot the USSR’s collapse and, frankly, he pined for the “good old days” where he could reconquer the nations the Soviet Union lost in 1991.
In 2016 when Donald Trump was elected as the US President, Putin saw an opportunity. In his time in office Trump begged for Putin’s approval.
Trump also often threatened to withdraw from NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) which would give Putin the ability to invade countries in Eastern Europe without worrying that the United States would retaliate.
On February 24, 2022 Putin invaded Ukraine, being told by his advisors that he could conquer Ukraine in a matter of days. It hasn’t happened like that.
But it has caused tremendous damage to the land the people. I’ll be writing more about this as events continue to unfold.