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Putin’s war on Ukraine, explained

Understand the current conflict’s history in less than 10 minutes.

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin called it a “special military operation.” But the scale of the attack shows this is a war — after a week of fighting, it has already caused hundreds of civilian casualties and forced more than half a million Ukrainians to flee their homes.

Ukraine and Russia’s conflict goes back at least to 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and Russian-backed separatist forces took over parts of southeastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. But to understand the full context behind the invasion, it’s important to go even further back, to the time when Europe’s current divisions began, and see how that shaped Europe’s power balance today.

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