It’s been one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
How’d we get here?
On Feb 24 last year, after months of growing tensions, Russia sent tens of thousands of troops across the border to Ukraine — and shocked the world. As atrocities mounted, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of genocide. The Kremlin, for its part, said its goal was to “demilitarize” Ukraine. Much of the world wasn’t convinced, with President Biden saying Russia’s goal was to “reestablish the former Soviet Union.” Now, there’s still no end in sight to the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II. Here's the latest…
Ukraine…about 100,000 troops have been killed or injured in combat. An estimated 30,000 civilians have died. More than 13 million Ukrainians — about a third of the country’s population — have sought refuge out of the country or been displaced within Ukraine. The war’s caused widespread damage to countless communities. On top of that, Russia has raised safety concerns at nuclear power plants in Ukraine, which prompted some fears of a Chernobyl-like disaster.
Russia…An estimated 200,000 troops have been killed or wounded. Reports show that at least 500,000 people have fled Russia. Some fled to neighboring countries following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s draft-like order. Others left as sanctions shut out Russia from things like banking and access to foreign assets.
The rest of the world…NATO members have maintained military and financial support for Ukraine amid pleas from Zelenskyy — but they didn’t let Ukraine join NATO, due to fears of Russia escalating ‘into World War III.’ The US has contributed nearly $80 billion in humanitarian, financial, and weapons aid. However, Russia isn’t entirely alone. China’s trade with the Kremlin has hit record levels, helping Putin bankroll military expenses — though it’s now calling for a ceasefire. Then, there’s Belarus, which has served as a staging ground for Russian troops.
What’s next in the war?
In recent days, Ukrainian officials sounded the alarm Russia would launch a major new offensive around the invasion anniversary — though some experts were skeptical the tides could turn in Russia’s favor. Meanwhile, there’s still concern Putin could consider the use of nuclear weapons. Especially after he suspended a major nuclear arms deal. All the while, President Biden has vowed to defend Ukraine “as long as it takes” and was in Europe earlier this week reaffirming that stance. But some House Republicans are demanding greater oversight of US spending in the war. It comes as one poll found declining American support for some of the US’s efforts in Ukraine.
Ukraine has defied the odds against Russia. That’s in large part due to support from the international community. Now, it remains to be seen whether solidarity remains strong as the war stretches into a second year.
What we’re learning more about…
The Ohio train derailment. Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on what most likely caused the accident involving Norfolk Southern. It pointed to a wheel bearing severely overheating ahead of the derailment. The wheel bearing was found to be 253 degrees hotter than the air’s temperature. Anything above 170 degrees would require the engineer to stop and inspect the train. The report said that the train sensors that are supposed to alert the crew didn’t detect the temperature until it was too late. An engineer hit the brakes but was unable to stop, leading the 23rd car and others behind it to derail and spill toxic chemicals. The NTSB said that the accident was “100% preventable,” that the train crew doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong, and that the board will continue to investigate — a final report is expected next year. Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern said it’ll now check all of its heat detectors “out of an abundance of caution.”
Who's got people talking…
Harvey Weinstein. Yesterday, the convicted rapist was sentenced to an additional 16 years in prison for rape and sexual assault charges in a Los Angeles case. In 2017, The New York Times and The New Yorker first reported allegations of sexual misconduct against the disgraced Hollywood producer. More than 80 women came forward with similar stories — helping to spark the #MeToo movement. The 70-year-old is already serving a 23-year sentence for a separate conviction in New York. Weinstein maintains his innocence and says the LA case was a “setup.” The survivor in the case said the assault changed her and that there’s “no prison sentence long enough to undo the damage."
…Oh and R Kelly was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child sex abuse convictions. It only adds one extra year to his current prison time from a New York conviction. Kelly will now spend a combined 31 years behind bars.
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