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The Significance of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, escalating the Russo-Ukrainian war started in 2014. Russia periodically invaded Ukraine following the start of the war in 2014, but the recent attack is the largest conventional military attack in Europe since World War II. Ukraine expressed its wish to join NATO before the recent invasion, triggering Russia’s response. Putin stated the invasion was necessary to protect Russia, as well as demilitarize and de-Nazi Ukraine. (Ukraine is a democracy led by a Jewish president.) This invasion had endangered many innocent civilians and the Ukrainian government, but its effects will be felt far beyond just Ukraine.

Image Credit: Forbes

A shift in world powers occurred with the invasion of Ukraine, the most significant one since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The USSR, a predecessor to Russia, was the main concern for the US following WWII in the Cold War. However, 9/11 shifted US focus to Al-Qaeda and ISIS: Russia did not pose the same threat it once did. Putin made contradictory moves during the 200s and 2010s. He made multiple attempts to prevent former Soviet bloc countries from becoming closer to Western Europe-- notably Georgia in 2008-- and supported Syrian dictator President Bashar al-Assad; but also helped fight ISIS, was Europe’s main energy supplier, and helped negotiate pacts, such as the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015. Putin’s attack on Ukraine has made Russia the most prominent threat to the Western world once again.

The EU, historically divided over the extent of power Brussels should have in foreign policy, has become united as a result of the Ukrainian invasion. The EU is one of the main global economic powers, and remained mostly removed from geopolitics before. However, the recent offensive has raised fears of another European war, prompting the EU to finance Ukraine to buy weapons.

Most prominently, many people have been displaced and forced to flee because of Russia’s attack. This migration is one of the fastest and largest migrations in recent history, with one million people leaving their homes in the first seven days after the attack. This raises concerns over a refugee crisis in Europe, and whether refugees can return to their homes, if their homes still exist.

Implications for the average person outside of Ukraine result from the crisis as well. The US made sanctions on two Russian banks and five oligarchs and their families, and prohibited the purchase of Russian sovereign debt. This restricts major Russian banks, affecting Russian international trade. This will raise prices, depreciate currency, and cause market crashes in Russia. The loss of Russian exports, which include fossil fuels and other commodities, impacts mainly Europe, but other countries as well. Energy prices will rise because Russia is a major exporter of natural gas and petroleum. Russia can limit or cut off energy to Europe, and multiple pipelines run through the unstable region of Ukraine to Europe. Industries will also take a hit, raising prices of consumer goods, as Russia is a main exporter of minerals and heavy metals, such as palladium used in catalytic converters in cars and semiconductor chips used in various technologies. In addition, food prices will spike because fertilizer and wheat are main exports in Russia and Ukraine. The stock market has already started to suffer because of the potential war in Europe, and will likely not recover anytime soon.

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