Ukraine War Updates
The year 2022 has come to a close, but the war between Ukraine and Russia continues. Soldiers and civilians from both countries have been affected by the ongoing conflict, and cities have been reduced to rubble. Smoke caused by explosions from Russian attacks can be seen in the air of urban centers and the once peaceful countryside has turned into a battlefield. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine continues to be defiant towards the Russian invaders, while Russian President Putin is unwavering in his support for the invasion. The war in Ukraine will persist, as questions of diplomacy linger throughout the world.
Zelenskyy meets the President of the United States and Addresses Congress
On his first trip outside of Ukraine since the Russian invasion’s start in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was escorted by NATO spy aircraft and fighters in a top-secret escort operation, traveling to the US from Ukraine in December of 2022. Seeking economic and military support from Ukraine’s top ally to continue effectively fighting the Russian invaders, Zelenskyy’s arrival in the United States was crucial to the Ukrainian cause, since U.S. lawmakers were to vote on a spending package that was to give 45 billion dollars in emergency assistance to Ukraine. The Pentagon was also preparing to send more of the Patriot missile system, which is the most advanced surface-to-air missile system in the West, to Ukraine’s military and could be used to strike down Russian drones. On December 21, President Zelenskyy met with U.S. President Biden at the White House, reaffirming their resolution to defend Ukraine against Russian invaders. Facing reporters, both leaders pledged to continue fighting.
President Biden said, “We will stay with you for as long as it takes.” Zelenskyy addressed Congress later that evening, with both parties welcoming the Ukrainian leader with a lengthy standing ovation. Zelenskyy thanked his allies for their support while emphasizing the need for greater assistance from the United States in his speech. “Against all odds and doom and gloom, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” he said. “The Russian Tyranny has lost control.”
Zelenskyy further stated, “Your money is not charity, it’s an investment in the global security that we handle most responsibly.” The Ukrainian President unfolded a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers as a gift. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gifted Zelenskyy a U.S. flag that flew over the capitol and honored his visit to Washington D.C. The President of Ukraine closed his speech by saying, “Merry Christmas and happy victorious new year.” Zelenskyy’s visit bolstered support for the Ukrainian cause and reminded the United States that the fight for democracy and defense from Russian invaders was ongoing. Zelenskyy’s visit to the nation’s capital served as a call to action for the preservation of democracy in Ukraine. His visit also aided the House of Representatives in passing a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Relations with Russia and China Worsen
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he is open to peace talks with Ukraine, despite Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov giving Ukraine an ultimatum, stating the nation should comply with Russia and its demands for its “own good.” Putin demands the immediate surrender of Ukrainian territory currently under Russian occupation.
Abroad, China has defended the Russian war stance, aiming to deepen ties with their neighbor Russia. President Zelenskyy additionally sought India’s Prime Minister Modi’s help with a “peace formula.”
In a violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian armed forces have made continued attacks against Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, leaving Ukrainian civilians without power and forcing them to endure freezing conditions in their own homes in the harsh winter. Millions in Ukraine have been left without power. Ukraine aims to significantly reduce the power deficit caused by the Russian airstrikes and attacks, responding with drone strikes of their own.
Ukraine’s drone strike on a Russian airbase has left three dead. Engels base, an airbase for bombers in southern Russia attacked by a Ukrainian drone, was repeatedly used by Russia to carry out missile strikes on various targets in Ukraine. Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said the explosions were retaliation for Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian soil. The drone strike’s attacks on the bombers were to damage and destroy the bombers that bombarded targets in Ukraine. While Russia has accused Ukraine of attacking its territory earlier in the war, recent incidents like this have been taking place farther within Russian territory.
President Zelenskyy visited Bakhmut, a center of fierce fighting and frontline of the war in recent weeks. Bakhmut, remaining in Ukrainian hands, is crucial in the war. Resistance in Bakhmut has ruined Russia’s goal of taking over the Donetsk Province, part of the fiercely contested Donbas region. Taking Bakhmut would not only open up a path for Russian troops to attack key Ukrainian strongholds in the province but would also rupture Ukraine’s supply lines. The battle for Bakhmut and Ukrainian resistance there is key to Ukraine’s defense against Russia as the new year begins.
Sources & Further Reading