President Vladimir Putin may have hinted to an invasion of Ukraine in July 2021 in a public letter declaring that ‘true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.’
The Russian leader, who today launched all-out war on Ukraine with simultaneous attacks coming from south, east and north, by land and air, appeared to lay out the pretext for his invasion last year after being asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations.
It comes as missiles and bombs today rained from the sky and Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv and Chernihiv, in the east of Ukraine, all reported coming under attack after Putin gave the order to invade.
In his stark warning penned last year, Putin described how ‘Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians were all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe’ and said ‘Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole’.
He noted that the name ‘Ukraine’ emerged in written source from the 12th century, and could be traced back to the old Russian word ‘okraina’ before going on to say the word Ukrainian ‘originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders’.
President Vladimir Putin, who today launched a war on Ukraine, hinted to an invasion of Ukraine in July 2021 in an open letter
The president wrote: ‘I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories.
‘Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.
‘Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me.
‘And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ‘anti-Ukraine’. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.’
In his public address the Russian president claimed that Russia’s historical enemies – Poland and Austria-Hungary – had crafted narratives to separate Russia and Ukraine and argued that ‘there was no historical basis’ for dividing the two countries.
The alarming note came less than two months after the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) passed a bill which guaranteed the human rights and basic freedoms the indigenous peoples of Ukraine established by international law and the constitution.
Under the new law, the indigenous peoples would be protected against actions aimed at: the elimination of their ethnicity, destruction of cultural values, ‘deportation or forced displacement from the location of compact residence in any form,’ the Russian news agency TASS reported.
But the definition meant that Russians could not be considered an indigenous people of Ukraine.
The initiative received harsh criticism from President Vladimir Putin who said in a televised interview that the bill did not comply with the norms of international humanitarian law.
It was also slammed by the Russian Orthodox Church who said the bill could ‘undermine the stability and integrity of Ukraine’.
The bill came as Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was fighting for Crimea, which was invaded by Russian troops in 2014 and annexed from Ukraine, ‘not on billboards but on all international platforms’.
Mr Zelenskyy said: ‘For the first time since the occupation, we are fighting for Crimea not on billboards, but on all international platforms and meetings. Not by slogans, but by official documents. For the first time since 2014, the strategy of deoccupation and reintegration of Crimea has been developed and approved.
‘The area is 27 thousand square kilometers. Larger than some countries in Europe and the world. But we are not fighting for hectares, we’re fighting for people, for our citizens. And for the first time in history, we passed a law on indigenous peoples, which consolidated the status and rights of Crimean Tatars. ‘
Addressing the bill in his public letter last year Putin said: ‘The current president introduced a bill on ‘indigenous peoples’ to the Rada.
Putin described how ‘Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians were all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe’ in his stark warning last year. Pictured: Putin during a meeting with APEC economic leaders in July 2021
The letter also came as President Joe Biden (pictured with Putin during a meeting in Geneva in June 2021) told his Russian counterpart that he would retaliate against Kremlin-linked hackers
Last year Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed confidence that Crimea would definitely return to Ukraine
‘Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown.
‘And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation. ‘
The public warning also came as President Joe Biden told his Russian counterpart that he would retaliate against Kremlin-linked hackers.
In July last year Biden had instructed the FBI to launch an investigation after a cyber attack by Kremlin-linked hackers hit the IT systems of up to one million companies.
Russian-linked hacking group REvil, which breached the systems of U.S.-based software firm Kaseya to conduct its attack, demanded $70 million in cryptocurrency to fix it.
Swedish grocery stores, schools in New Zealand, and two major Dutch IT firms were also among the victims of the hack.
Just a month before, Biden held a bilateral meeting in Geneva warning President Putin to take action against hacking groups targeting the US from Russia.
He also gave Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure entities that were ‘off limits.’
Those entities included energy, water, health care, emergency, chemical, nuclear, communications, government, defense, food, commercial facilities, IT, transportation, dams, manufacturing and financial services.
Today Russia launched war on Ukraine after Vladimir Putin gave the order to attack.
Earlier today black smoke was seen rising from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv after Russia launched an attack
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy chairs an urgent meeting with the leadership of the government, representatives of the defence sector and the economic bloc, in Kiev
Ukrainian tanks rolling into the port city of Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine, after Putin declared war
‘Hundreds’ of Ukrainian troops were killed in early clashes, an official said, as the fight came to them on all fronts at a moment’s notice.
Official figures put the death toll at 40, with ‘dozens’ wounded.
Cruise missiles, guided bombs and GRAD rockets took out targets from east to west – aimed at airfields, military bases, ammo dumps, and command posts including in the capital.
Six Russian jets were shot out of the sky over the eastern Donbass region with 50 Russian troops killed, Ukraine claimed, before Moscow spoke of taking full control of the skies.
Ukrainian border guards said they had come under attack by heavy artillery, tanks and troops from Russia and Belarus as Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko threw his forces into the fight – though he denied taking part.
Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv and Chernihiv in the east of Ukraine all reported coming under attack, with blasts also reported in the west – in Zhytomyr and Lviv, close to the border with Poland.
Meanwhile pro-Russian rebel forces pushed out from the occupied Donbass region, capturing two villages and claiming to have shot two Ukrainian jets out of the skies.
The port cities of Mariupol and Odessa, where Ukraine’s main naval bases are located, were also attacked.
Volodymyr Zelensky, in an address to the nation on Thursday morning, said the history of Ukraine has now changed forever and that Russia is trying to ‘destroy’ the state. But he defiantly vowed to fight back, saying the military has already inflicted ‘serious losses’ on Russia in the early hours.
He called on Ukrainian citizens willing to defend their homeland to step forward, saying guns will be issued to anyone who wants one. He also asked for civilians to give blood to help wounded troops. And he asked world leaders to impose the ‘harshest sanctions possible’ on Putin.