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On August 24, 1991, Ukraine became independent of the Soviet Socialist Republican Union (USSR), a confederation of socialist states led by Russia and dissolved in December of the same year. Since then, Ukraine, a nation of which Russia is an offshoot, returned as an autonomous and sovereign state.
But this 2022, Ukrainians commemorated 31 years of their independence under a supremely adverse context, because, just that same day marked six months since the beginning of the invasion of the Russian Federation. Today, the invading troops have evidently abandoned the strategy of conquering Kyiv and are mainly concentrated in the Donbas region (the southeastern territories of Ukraine) and the border city of Kharkiv.
But throughout these six months of invasion, some figures stand out. At least five thousand civilians have died in the conflict, Ukrainian casualties are estimated at just under forty thousand, while, according to Pentagon figures, Russia has lost about half of its deployed force, i.e., about seventy-five thousand. Perhaps the most alarming figure according to the UN is that 40% of the Ukrainian population is in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Now, as far as the commemoration of Ukraine’s independence is concerned, the UN Security Council held a session to discuss the issue, which once again ended in nothing, as both delegations accused each other.
Among the highlights of the day was the visit to Kyiv of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who made a strong speech against Russia and the tyrannical government of the Kremlin. President Zelensky presented Johnson with the high award “Order of Freedom.” In addition, President Emmanuel Macron and President Olaf Scholz of France and Germany respectively spoke in solidarity with Ukraine.
However, the most relevant political fact of the conflict that took place this week is given by the turn of Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, who in a press conference said: “Crimea must be returned to Ukraine, it is an integral part. It is critical for regional welfare, global security, and stability to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political unity.” In crude, Erdoğan abandons Russia, strengthening its ties with NATO and the West in general.
It also highlighted the murder of pro-Putin journalist Daria Duguin, daughter of President Putin’s ideologue and personal advisor, the ultranationalist Alexander Duguin, who was killed in a car bomb attack in the middle of Russian territory. Russia accuses Ukraine, but they have not claimed responsibility for the attack, although some sources tend to indicate that an anti-Putin group was responsible. In any case, this shows that the war also reached the Russian territory itself, beyond the high inflation, unemployment, and flight of airlines as Western brands.
Finally, there remains a central point for the whole international community, the nuclear plant of Zaporizhia, considered the largest nuclear plant in the world, is today under the control of Russian troops and about which there is a fear that in the middle of the conflict it could explode causing a catastrophe not only in Ukraine but in all Europe.
Nahem Reyes is a PhD in history from the Andrés Bello Catholix University and associate member of the American Studies Center of the Central University of Venezuela. // Nahem Reyes es doctor en Historia de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello y miembro asociado del Centro de Estudios de América de la Universidad Central de Venezuela.