Why Russia invaded Ukraine: Five reasons fact-checked as war passes 100th day

Ukraine: Retired colonel highlights ‘huge problem’

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Russia is now more than 100 days deep into its invasion of Ukraine, with little progress made since combat began in February. The devastating conflict has remapped allegiances in Europe and killed thousands, including innocent Ukrainians caught in the crossfire. Both western and Russian officials have explained Putin’s reason for invading the country, so why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Protecting people in Donetsk and Luhansk

On the 100th day of Russia’s invasion, Russia claimed it had achieved some of its invasion goals.

The latest legitimisation of the conflict came from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

He said one of the “main goals” was to protect people in the self-proclaimed separatist Russian-aligned states of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), which Russia has recognised as independent.

Peskov said: “One of the main goals of the operation is to protect people in the DNR and LNR.

“Measures have been taken to ensure their protection and certain results have been achieved.”

The “special military operation”

Russia initially justified its invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation”.

In a statement televised in Russia on February 24, Putin told the Russian public his administration had “no other option” but to invade to “protect Russia and our people”.

He claimed separatists in the separatist Donbas region of Ukraine had “turned to Russia with a request for help”.

The threat, he asserted, came from a Neo-Nazi Ukrainian administration carrying out “genocide”, which UN officials have disputed.

Ukraine’s far-right parties have failed to win a single seat in the country’s parliament since 2015, whose Jewish leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky, had relatives victimised in the Holocaust.

NATO expansion

In another section of his February 24 speech, Putin touched on a long-held gripe with western powers.

He decried NATO’s eastern expansion, suggesting Ukraine was on track to join the military organisation.

As he recognised the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent, he suggested the organisation’s “war machine” was moving to the Russian border.

Since its formation, NATO has steadily spread eastwards, but only when other nations apply, rather than making a concerted effort to challenge Russia.

Western academics have disputed this, citing the possibility Ukraine might join NATO as a reason for Putin’s invasion.

Ukraine was “always part of Russia”

One day after his February 24 speech, Putin offered a new angle on his invasion.

In a widely condemned televised history lesson, he told Russians modern Ukraine was “entirely created by Russia”.

He claimed the Bolshevik government split the country into a union by “severing what is historically Russian land”, betraying his belief that Ukraine is Russian territory.

Both historians and Ukrainians have long disputed this, with visible long-held cultural differences between the two nations.

Matthew Lenoe, an associate professor of history at the University of Rochester, said the assertion made by Putin is “false”, adding Ukraine is a “nation-state” whose citizens want to preserve independence.

Vladimir Putin’s illness

Western reasoning for the war has recently focussed on Putin’s health, with analysts stating it is “part of the equation” in his invasion.

Intelligence reports from the US and Ukraine have suggested the Russian President, 69, is terminally unwell and lashing out.

They have not settled on the exact “terminal condition” he is suffering from, with rumours including blood cancer.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has denied the President is unwell, and some of the alleged intelligence has failed to hold up under scrutiny.

Lavrov said the President’s health is proven by his public appearances “every day”, adding he didn’t believe “sane people” could “discern any sort of symptom of disease in this man”.

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