The Russian-Ukrainian War: A History of Political Tensions


Russia has sparked worldwide condemnation over its unprovoked attacks on Ukraine. UN (United Nations) officials estimate that more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded. It is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since WWII. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured in Ukraine.


But this isn’t the beginning of this conflict.


Ukraine and Russia were both part of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991. The Kremlin (a symbol of power and authority) in Russia has maintained that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people”. Ukraine does not agree with this statement, saying that it has been independent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has also been looking to join the military alliance known as NATO for years. Russia believes this would threaten its security since it would bring Western allies closer to its borders. In 2014, relations between the two countries worsened after Russia annexed Crimea.


Russia invaded Ukraine for many reasons, especially ones being claimed, but not proven. Russian President Vladimir Putin originally said the invasion would protect Russian speakers in breakaway regions of Ukraine. Putin claimed that in these regions, there was “genocide”. However, experts believe that Putin’s likely goal is to “reestablish” the Soviet Union. Russia’s invasion came after months of rising tensions and the build-up of thousands of troops and other military forces at its border with Ukraine.

February 22, 2022, the Federation Council (Russian Senate) authorized the use of Russian military force outside of Russia. On February 24, 2022, Putin ordered the forces amassed on the Ukraine border to invade the country. The invasion included targeted attacks along the Belarus-Ukraine border, followed by airstrikes on military buildings in Ukraine. Explosions from non-targeted attacks were heard and witnessed across Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine.


How are outside countries fighting back?

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said; “Russia has vilely attacked us.” President Biden along with many other leaders are supporting Ukraine and want to hold Russia accountable.  

President Joe Biden announced that the US will be banning imports of Russian oil, gas, and energy. Russian oil makes up about 8% of US oil, so oil prices will probably rise a little bit. The UK is also going to phase out the use of Russian oil. This is meant to destroy the Russian economy to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tweeted “Thankful for US and @POTUS personal leadership in striking at the heart of Putin’s war machine and banning oil, gas and coal from the US market, encouraging other countries and leaders to follow.” 

NATO is split into two groups, one wants to talk to Putin and the other wants to give Ukraine weapons. But Putin doesn’t show any means of cooperating. Negotiations so far have failed. 


How is the sports world reacting?

Russian soccer teams are banned from competing in all international competitions “until further notice”. They banned club and international Russian teams. Before that was issued, Soccer’s World governing body said that Russia could compete but not host and they couldn’t play their national anthem, and they can’t fly their flag. FIFA’s initial response was that Russia couldn’t use Russia as their name, they would have to go by “Football Union of Russia”. The President of the Polish Football Association tweeted: “Today’s FIFA decision is totally unacceptable. We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is.” Poland was going to play Russia in a World Cup qualifying match. The winner would play either Sweden or the Czech Republic, but both of those countries said that they would boycott any games played against Russia. This means that The Football Union of Russia might have ended up in the finals by default. Other national teams made it clear that they wouldn’t play The Football Union of Russia. 

The ROC Paralympic team was banned from the Paralympics the day before the games began. Other countries threatened to boycott the games if the ROC was going to take part. Belarusian athletes are also banned from competing in the Paralympics for their role in the Ukraine invasion. Initially the IPC(International Paralympic Committee) had said that the Russian/Belarusian athletes would be neutral and would compete under the Paralympic flag. They also would be excluded from the medal ceremonies and have to cover their countries symbols on their uniforms. The IPC president said: “At the IPC we are very firm believers that sport and politics should not mix. However, by no fault of its own the war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many Governments are having an influence on our cherished event.”

 The IIHF also banned Russia and Belarus from competing. They have also taken away hosting rights from Russia and Belarus for the 2023 World Junior Championship. The IIHF President said “The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine, we nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.” And the Swedish, Finnish, and the Czech Foundations are banning Russian teams from participating in the remaining Euro Hockey Tournaments. The NHL has stopped all of their Russian Partnerships, pausing their Russian websites, and will not be considering Russia as a location for any competitions involving the NHL.