When did the war between Russia and Ukraine start, and what was its causes and triggers? I have heard different dates. Some claim that it started on the 24 of February this year, while some claim that it started already for eight years ago. Can a war start at two different dates? Or are we talking about two different wars?
The answer depends on your perspective. 2/22/22 is when the current armed incursion into Ukraine began, 2014 is when Russian forces incurred into Ukraine to seize Crimea.
To make matters even muddier: legally speaking, there is no Russo-Ukrainian war; neither party has officially declared war on the other. (Russia declared a "special military operation" following the U.S.' footsteps in Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts.)
That said, there has been a constant state of violent conflict in Ukraine's Donbas region since the annexation of Crimea and insofar as people shooting each other constitutes an 'undeclared war' then the region has been in that state since at least 2014 if not earlier. This region of the world is no stranger to violence.
Start of the war:
The war between Russia and Ukraine started on February 27, 2014, when the Russian forces invaded Ukraine in Crimea.
The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin regards certain sovereign countries (such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia) as part of the historical Russia. Russia invaded as many of these countries as it could, that is, all the non-NATO members.
Thriving, democratic, independent countries, former members of the Soviet Union, integrated with the West politically, economically, culturally and militarily may serve as an example to the Russian people, who may want similar changes in the regime in Russia. Putin (who ruled Russia 2000-2008 and 2012-present) showed that he is reluctant to relinquish power in Russia. One way to ensure his reign is to teach by example, that is to punish the democratic neighbors, and create crippled states (occupied in part or completely, as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia), or states ruled by puppet regimes (such as the regime of Lukashenko in Belarus).
- The popular uprising occurred in Ukraine in 2013-2014, during which the corrupt, pro-Russian Ukrainian President Yanukovich escaped the country.
- The subsequent elections brought to power pro-Western political elite, which was not subservient to Russia.
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_Russian_invasion_of_Ukraine
Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Crimea_by_the_Russian_Federation
Why has Russia invaded Ukraine and what does Putin want?: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56720589
Legally, there is no war to speak of:
- Russia claims that it is currently conducting a special military operation, but it has never formally declared a war on Ukraine.
- Equally, Ukraine formally characterized the events in Donbass region, developing since 2014, as an antiterrorist operation, even though casually the events have been often referred to as war. In practical terms, Russia denied that any of its forces were present in Donbass, contrary to the claims made by Ukraine.
The reason for that it that a declaration of war is a legal act that is sometimes politically difficult to accomplish (e.g., in the US it must be voted by the Congress) and which entails various legal consequences: e.g.:
- providing certain financial and military aid to warring parties may be prohibited by international law
- other countries may be reluctant to provide such an assistance, since it would formally make them parties to the conflict
- any abuses fall under the well-developed international conventions regarding war crimes, which are less precise on counter-terrorism.
In this context it is worth mentioning that the US has not formally declared a war since World War 2.