Early Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin started a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Putin is anxious about NATO’s eastward expansion and has falsely accused Ukraine of genocide.
On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden stated that he believes Putin is attempting to resurrect the Soviet Union. Early Thursday morning, Russian military attacked Ukraine, initiating a large-scale, unprovoked assault that had been predicted for weeks.
The Russian military entered into Ukraine from several direction, with forces advancing on Kyiv, the country’s capital, and attacking with airstrikes and shelling. During the combat, dozens of soldiers on both sides, as well as some Ukrainian citizens, were slain, according to Ukrainian authorities.
President Joe Biden and other Western officials have slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, calling them a breach of international law. Biden announced additional, tougher sanctions against Russia on Thursday afternoon, claiming they were aimed to “maximize the long-term impact on Russia while minimizing the impact on the United States and our partners.”
Here are some of Putin’s justifications for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some of which are untrue, as well as what the US and NATO have said about his motivations.
- Concern over NATO’s eastward expansion
Putin has expressed alarm about NATO’s expansion into eastern Europe and former Soviet republics, particularly Ukraine.
NATO is a political and military alliance that was founded in 1949 and now has 30 members, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and a number of other European countries. Any European country that fits NATO’s standards is eligible to join. Ukraine is one of three countries now considered aspirant members, according to the alliance.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, Putin has chastised NATO for extending eastwards. He has called NATO’s enlistment of nations on Russia’s borders a provocation, despite NATO’s claims that it is a defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia.
Putin said the invasion of Ukraine was an act of self-defense against NATO expansion in a speech on Thursday morning.
Putin alleges Ukraine is committing genocide against ethnic Russians without evidence.
Putin has repeatedly accused Ukraine of genocide and referred to its government as a Nazi dictatorship, despite the fact that neither assertion is supported by evidence.
Putin stated earlier this month that ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine were being subjected to “genocide,” particularly in the Donbas region, where Kremlin-backed insurgents have been fighting Ukrainian authorities since 2014.
Putin proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk, two rebel regions in the Donbas, as independent states on Monday and dispatched Russian forces to conduct a “peacekeeping” mission, a move largely interpreted as a justification for war.
Putin reiterated the accusations of genocide in his address announcing the invasion on Thursday, saying he wanted to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, a country whose democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish.
- Putin falsely says Ukraine isn’t a real country
Putin stated Ukraine is not a real country in a lengthy address on Monday: “Ukraine has never had its own independent country. In Ukraine, there has never been a viable statehood.”
Despite significant evidence of Ukrainian culture and history predating the Soviet Union, he claimed that Ukraine was established by the Soviet Union under its first leader, Vladimir Lenin. Putin also stated that Ukraine is a Russian territory.
“Let me say once more that Ukraine is not merely a neighboring country for us. It is an important element of our culture, spiritual space, and history “he stated
Putin has repeatedly asserted wrongly that Russia granted Ukraine the right to secede, but in fact, the Ukrainian people overwhelmingly opted for independence in a referendum in 1991, according to The Washington Post. 84 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum, with more than 90% voting in support of independence.
- Dubious concerns over nuclear weapons
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Ukraine willingly gave up nuclear weapons on its soil in exchange for security assurances from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia.
Putin, on the other hand, is concerned that Ukraine has the capability and ambition to gain nuclear weapons, posing a threat to Moscow. While there is no evidence that Ukraine is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, the New York Times stated that Putin has spread conspiracy theories in order to hype the threat and justify an invasion.
“If Ukraine acquires weapons of mass destruction, the situation in the world and in Europe will drastically change, especially for us, for Russia,” Putin said Tuesday. “We cannot but react to this real danger, all the more so since, let me repeat, Ukraine’s Western patrons may help it acquire these weapons to create yet another threat to our country.”
There are no plans to arm Ukraine with nuclear weapons, according to US officials and NATO.
- Putin may want to build back a Russian empire
Another reason some claim Russia is invading Ukraine is one that Putin has never said explicitly: to re-establish an empire and re-establish dominance over Europe and Asia that Russia, or the Soviet Union, possessed before to the conclusion of the Cold War.
In remarks on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Biden admitted as much: “He has far more ambitious goals than Ukraine. In fact, he wants to restore the former Soviet Union. That is exactly what this is all about.”
“I believe his aspirations are diametrically opposed to where the rest of the world has arrived,” he continued.