The Russia-Ukraine Conflict in 5 Minutes


Protesters gathered in Paris, France on March 5 to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, joining a global outcry against Russia. West High students have also expressed support for Ukraine by staying informed, donating money, and posting resources on social media. Photo courtesy of Mathias P. R. Reding.

Luciana Duke, Staff Writer

   On February 24, 2022, the world saw its first full-scale invasion of a sovereign country in decades. Almost 75 years since the end of the last world war, Russia declared war on Ukraine and the outcomes could be catastrophic. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine belongs to Russia because of their ethnic ties. But there have been several events in history that led to this moment. 

1945: End of WWII and Division of Europe

   After World War II, Europe was divided between the west and east. In 1949, Western European countries along with the United States and Canada formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which guaranteed the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. On the other hand, Eastern European countries including Ukraine joined the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. 

1989-1991: USSR Dissolves

   In 1981, when the Berlin Wall fell, Germany became a united, independent country and the expansion of NATO continued. By mid 1991, republics like Ukraine began declaring independence from the Soviet Union. On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved into 15 independent states, including Russia But as time went on, Russia became a much weaker country since many of its neighboring countries overthrew their communist governments. 

1999-2004: NATO Expands

   In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO. In 2004, seven more countries joined. This moved NATO into the former Soviet region of influence. Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine became the last three bordering counties with Russia that were not part of NATO. 

2014: Invasion of Crimea

   When Ukraine didn’t join the EU, thousands of protests emerged and Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, was voted out of office. This meant the Russian government was losing influence in Ukraine and decided to use force. Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea Peninsula. Then they captured the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and declared their unofficial independence from Ukraine. 

Present: Russian Invasion of Ukraine

   In February 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. World leaders including members of NATO have spoken out against Russia’s invasion. However, NATO countries are treading carefully as they don’t want this war to escalate by joining. Russia controls the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and has threatened to use them if anyone interferes with the invasion. Russia’s main argument for their attack on Ukraine is Ukraine’s ethnic ties with Russia and alleged Ukrainian attacks in the region of Donbas.

How are students at West High staying informed and taking action? 

   Many teachers have been taking class time to discuss the current Russia-Ukraine situation. “It may be hard to understand it because it goes back years, but I think it is important for students to know we’ve seen one sovereign nation invade another,” Government and Economics teacher Mr. Hettinger expressed. Although what students can do to help is limited, certainly staying informed and discussing the current situation is the first step towards a more peaceful world. 

   Students have also researched websites where one can donate and support aid for Ukraine. “It’s sad to see all those people suffering, that’s why I urge all those who can to donate . . . there are a lot of organizations helping Ukraine, Save the Children is one that I’ve found useful,” student activist Sarah Sarang (12) shared. Save the Children is a global organization devoted to serving children and securing their rights. If you want to keep getting informed or find other websites on how to help, visit