Why did Russia invade Ukraine?
The major goal, according to Putin, is to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine, particularly those in the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, which seceded from Ukraine in 2014. He referred to it as "de-Nazification," which political analysts see as code for Mr. Putin's attempt to construct an unsubstantiated narrative about Ukrainian
leaders being puppets of the West, similar to how certain nationalists collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II.
Ukraine has refused Moscow's assertions that it is attempting to reclaim the region by force or is in some way allied with neo-Nazis. Mr. Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, is of Jewish ancestry, and in a speech to the Russian people before the invasion, he stated that eight million Ukrainians were killed during WWII and that his grandpa fought as a Soviet officer throughout the fight.
The current conflict has severely strained U.S.-Russia relations and increased the risk of a wider European conflict. Tensions are likely to increase between Russia and neighboring NATO member countries that would likely involve the United States, due to alliance security commitments. Additionally, the conflict in Ukraine will have broader ramifications for future cooperation on critical issues like arms control, cybersecurity, nuclear nonproliferation, energy security, counter-terrorism, and political solutions in Syria, Libya, and elsewhere.