Russia's Invasion of Ukraine (1)
(March 2022)

Russia abruptly launched an aggresive attack against Ukraine on February 24th, 2022. To hear of this news at the Prime Minister's office, I was both heartbroken and dumbstruck. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an outrageous violation of international law and tramples on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. We can never accept such an attempt to change the status quo by force.

German President, Scholz strongly criticized Russian President Putin by saying, "He alone, not the Russian people, chose this war. He alone bears full responsibility for this. This war is Putin's war." in the emergency video conference of the G7 held on February 24th.

A joint statement from the G7 announced severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, EU, the U.S., Canada and Japan decided to exclude several Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunications (SWIFT) network, where more than 10,000 financial institutions worldwide exchange information for money transfers. These sanctions will deal a blow to the Russian economy. However, NATO and the U.S. have no intension to directly intervene in this war, since they fear the risk of military escalation potentialy leading to the World War 3. So far, western nations have been stepping up their military assistance to the Ukrainian troops engaged in war with Russian forces.

Russian troops first attacked the Ukrainian military facilities with missiles aiming to siege large cities like the capital Kyive, and the second largest city, Kharkiv. However, they were met with strong resistance by Ukrainian troops, and as a consequence, their ground invasion of Ukraine has stalled. Many civilians who took shelter in theaters and schools were wounded or died by the bombings, which is a war crime against humanity.

As of March 20, the number of refugees from Ukraine is over 3 million. Moreover, Russian troops occupied nuclear power plants such as Chernobyl and Zaporizhazia.

Negotiations for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine have stalled. Russia demands Ukraine disarmament and preserve a position of neutrality, while Ukraine refuses calling for an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of its troops. Despite negotiations, fierce urban warfare has continued through Mariupori in southeast Ukraine, where Russian troops have sieged. It was reported that over 3000 civilians died by indiscriminate assaults of Russian forces and at least 200,000 people, almost equivalent to half of the population, still remain in Mariupori.

Due to the extremely cold weather, many people including children, have taken refuge in underground shelters where there is hardly any food and water, medicine, heaters or communications. Ukraine President, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych ZELENSKYY clearly stated that Ukraine will never surrender to Russia. He made several addresses online with Legislatures of foreign countries, such as the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Canada. On March 22, Japanese Diet members are set to hear his speech online.

Due to restraints of the Constitution of Japan, Japan is unable to give any military support to Ukraine. Therefore, the government decided to provide 200 million dollars to Ukraine as humanitarian aid、and helping people flee from the war to Japan. Since the war is at a deadlock, concerns are growing on whether Russia will escalate further assaults or use biological and chemical weapons. In order to stop this war, Japan, with the close cooperation of international communities, will make every effort for a peaceful resolution.

To be continued.

By Yuzuru Takeuchi