Muhammad Najem

Russia and Ukraine, a history of violence

Putin thinks Ukraine belongs to Russia based on what happened 1,000 years ago. The Ukrainians could not disagree more.

This thing between Russia and Ukraine didn’t start with Putin’s invasion.

This thing goes back a thousand years, to the grand prince of Kyiv, Vladimir I, when he was baptised an Orthodox Christian.

Today, many Russian nationalists figure that makes Ukrainians one of them. But does it?

People have wanted a piece of Ukraine for centuries. In 1793, for instance, the empress of Russia annexed a lot of present-day Ukraine.

Early in the 20th century, Lenin made sure Ukraine became a founding republic of the Soviet Union. In 1991, as Gorbachev and Yeltsin watched the Soviet Union collapse, Ukraine declared independence.

Later, Putin showed up and started eying Ukraine all over again.

But the Orange Revolution and EuroMaidan protests put the brakes on any plans the Russian president might have had.

In the aftermath, though, Putin annexed Crimea, started a low-grade war in eastern Ukraine, and, in 2022, launched a full-on invasion.

Today, with the US and China on opposite sides of this thing, the stakes in this war—not just for Ukrainians, but for all of us—could not be higher.

Art by Al Jazeera


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