Visualizing The Ongoing Conflict Between Russia And Ukraine

Over the last couple of months, Russia has deployed more than 100,000 Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, increasing the suspicion that an invasion by Russia is imminent.

Last week, the US reportedly deployed 8,500 troops to Ukraine at very short notice, following reports that NATO was planning to send additional fighter jets and ships to eastern Europe in support of Russia.

So what is going on between both countries and how did the conflict escalate to this point? In a series of infographics, we would explain the background of the conflict and visualize the current events.

Background on Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is an ongoing geopolitical and international relations issue between Russia and Ukraine that began in February 2014.

Following an anti-government protest that saw the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops invaded and annexed a part of Ukraine known as the Crimean Peninsula, setting the stage for the conflict between both countries.

The Crimea is a strategically important peninsula along the northern coast of the Black Sea in the eastern part of Ukraine and Donbas, a region in south-eastern Ukraine. Both territories are internationally recognized as part of Ukraine and Russian fleets were allowed to maintain their presence there before it was annexed by Russia in 2014.

A month later, pro-Russian separatists began capturing territory from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people were killed in the conflict.

Ukraine with support from the west, accused Russia of sending troops and weapons to back the rebels but Moscow denied the allegations, stating that Russians who joined the separatists did so voluntarily.

In 2015, a peace agreement – the Minsk-2 agreement – was brokered by France and Germany, among others to help end escalating conflict between both countries. The very complex 13-point agreement obliged Ukraine full control of its border and the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations and military equipment from the two disputed regions, Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine insists that Russian forces are still present in the disputed regions but Moscow denies it has any troops there.

Seven years after, reports claim Ukrainian forces and separatists continue to engage in limited trench warfare at flashpoints along the former frontline.

Timeline From Crimea Invasion Till Now

Here is a visualization of some key events since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 to date

What Is The Situation Now?

In December 2021, US intelligence officials determined that Russia was planning to deploy 175,000 troops near Ukraine’s border in preparation for a possible invasion that they believed could begin in early 2022. That same month, Ukrainian intelligence confirmed the presence of 90,000 Russian troops at the borders between both countries.

Recent reports from news sources in Ukraine have confirmed a Russian invasion in most parts of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday, February 24, 2022.

Russia has continued to accuse Ukraine of breaching the 2015 Minsk-2 Agreement by allowing Ukrainian forces to engage separatists in warfare among other reasons. Russia has criticized the US and its Nato allies for providing Ukraine with weapons and holding joint drills, saying that this encourages Ukrainian troops to try to regain the rebel-held areas by force.

Where The Russian Troops Are Stationed

Comparing Military Strengths

The Russian military is ranked as one of the most powerful militaries in the world.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that Russia spent $61.7bn on its military in 2020. This accounts for 11.4 percent of government spending.

Ukraine on the other hand spent $5.9bn on its military or 8.8 percent of government spending according to SIPRI.

New reports claim that Russia has already deployed weapons within striking distance of Ukraine, including Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems, rocket launch systems, battle tanks and towed artillery. Ukraine’s military has gathered support from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Weapons such as the Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles have now been added to Ukraine’s arsenal. Kyiv would also be using the Turkish-made Bayrakhtar drones for reconnaissance.

The Ukrainian government have also received a second shipment of weapons from the US as part of a $200m (£147.5m) defensive package approved by President Joe Biden in December.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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