As of today, April 24, 2022, Russia's war on Ukraine has entered its third month. With US President Joe Biden calling Putin a 'war criminal', a 'butcher', and the cause of a 'genocide', the war appears to go down in history with chapters of violence, futile strategies, and unpredictable whereabouts. On Friday, Russia said that it will fight until it “takes control over all east and south of Ukraine.”
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of launching attacks to block civilian evacuations from the city. On Thursday, at least two Russian attacks hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, a way station for people fleeing Mariupol.
On Russia's annual victory day on May 9, critics debate that the war would end. Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres is preparing to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky next week, but where are the chances that the leaders will reach an accord?
Here is everything you need to know about the ongoing war.
A bipolar world
The world is divided, literally and metaphorically, between Ukraine and Russia as the four countries - Syria, North Korea, Belarus, Eritrea taking Russia's side, and the rest of the nations on the United Nations council are either going against or going neutral in respect to the war. Each country is moving ahead with a calculated move - is the Russian oil, military, and bilateral relations fruitful for the advancement of the world? While India's neutral, abstaining stance received applause from serious critics, there are many many things that the world is considering. If China and India continue to financially support Putin, Kremlin has to pay the price. US, NATO, EU, and allies have been harsh on Moscow, but the take of the common crowd, Zelensky's poise during the war and the calm seas have taken the world by a storm.
Most of the internet is now calling the war a 'watershed moment in modern history'.
Is nuclear war inevitable?
On multiple occasions, NATO and the US have denied interfering directly, as it would cause World War 3.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has constantly warned of nuclear war and called it a 'real possibility'. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told news agency CNN that Russia would use a nuclear deterrent on Ukraine in the event of an "existential threat". Russia's policy appears to be "escalate to de-escalate" and this could include launching a small nuclear weapon to gain the upper hand in the war.
In another report, UK's metro news had broadcasted footage of nuclear bombers over the skies of the Russia-Ukraine border. Footage shows four Russian Tu-95s, known as Bears, flying in the Kaluga region, within striking distance of Ukraine.
On April 21, Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the biggest battle of the Ukraine war, declaring the city of Mariupol "liberated".
His defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the rest of the city beyond the sprawling Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian forces were holed has been “liberated” — as Russian officials refer to areas of Ukraine they have seized. Putin hailed that as a “success.”
Economically, Kremlin has drastic steps to blunt the West's harsh sanctions. These included hiking interest rates to as high as 20%, instituting capital controls, and forcing Russian businesses to convert their profits into rubles. As a result, the value of the ruble has recovered after an initial plunge, and last week the central bank reversed part of its interest rate increase. Russian President Vladimir Putin felt emboldened and proclaimed — evoking World War II imagery — that the country had withstood the West’s “blitz” of sanctions.
US military aid to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden had announced an additional $800 million in battlefield aid that includes 72 of the U.S. Army's 155mm howitzers, along with 144,000 artillery rounds and more than 120 armed drones that will require training for Ukrainian operators.
This brings to $3.4 billion the amount of security assistance provided since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24. That is an extraordinary total of U.S. military aid for a country to which the United States has no defense treaty obligation.
The impact of sanctions
While Russia claims to be unaffected by the West's sanctions, the country seems to be facing its worst inflation in over two decades.
- Rosstat, the state’s economic statistic agency, said inflation last month hit 17.3%, the highest level since 2002. By comparison, the International Monetary Fund expects consumer prices in developing countries to rise 8.7% this year, up from 5.9% last year.
- Some Russian companies have been forced to shut down. Several reports say a tank manufacturer had to stop production due to the lack of parts. U.S. officials point to the closing of Lada auto plants — a brand made by Russian company Avtovaz and majority-owned by French automaker Renault — as a sign of sanctions having an effect.
- Moscow’s mayor says the city is looking at 200,000 job losses from foreign companies shutting down operations. More than 300 companies have pulled out, and international supply chains have largely shut down after container company Maersk, UPS, DHL, and other transportation firms exited Russia.
- Russia is facing a historic default on its bonds, which will likely freeze the country out of the debt markets for years.
Will the war be on May 9?
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said that he is open to sitting down with his Russian counterpart Putin, or as Biden nicknamed 'a murderous dictator', and discuss the war, and an option of peace. How will the results yield? Putin has been planning Russia's annual Victory Day on May 9. It seems that the date is his deadline for the war, exactly 75 days later.
While experts strongly believe that the war wouldn't end on the victory day, Moscow's intentions are clear but are far from reality. Even if the war is ending, the repruccusions that Kremlin will face, along with the world, is far from over.