The invasion of Ukraine by Russia shocked the world and triggered one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. It also brought one of the most powerful figures in international politics, Vladimir Putin, to the fore.
He has been in charge of Russian affairs for decades, and the West has always kept a close eye on him. However, some seasoned diplomats and policymakers were surprised by his decision to start a war in Ukraine, especially in the twenty-first century.
Vladimir Putin has always astounded observers around the world with his decisions, such as annexing Crimea and bombing Syrian anti-government rebels.
He made no secret of his desire to reassert Russian power and prevent Ukraine from joining the West-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, this time as well. Putin launched the invasion on February 24, claiming it was to “denazify” Ukraine.
Moreover, he has been in power since 2000, making him Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953.
The Russian Parliament has passed a constitutional reform that will allow Mr Putin to stay in power beyond his current fourth term, which ends in 2024.
Putin is frequently compared to controversial figures such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gadhafi, and even Adolf Hitler, with Ukrainians posting memes linking the Russian leader to the German dictator.
Critics access Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin has been branded a “war criminal” by US President Joe Biden for plunging Ukraine into chaos, and the US has imposed harsh sanctions on Russia.
According to experts, there is a reason for this. “I think he’s pragmatic, he’s ruthless. He has ambition,” Kenneth Dekleva, a former US Department of State Regional Medical Officer told.
In addition, he said “He wants to disrupt and rewrite the post-1991 Cold War order… His ruthlessness is not new. I’m sorry to say that… Putin abhors weakness. So I think we don’t want to put him in a position of feeling weakened or beaten or humiliated because that can lead to further problems down the road.”
Mr Putin’s critics claim that his worldview was formed during the Soviet era. Mr Putin, a former KGB spy, rose quickly through the ranks during the chaos of the Soviet Union’s demise. Experts claim that he wants to remake the Soviet Union by annexing Crimea and attacking Ukraine.
Mr Putin famously referred to the fall of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” He famously referred to Ukraine as Russia’s “crown jewel” in a 2015 speech, raising fears among US intelligence agencies that he wants to annex the country.
He has so far defied international pressure and ignored Western diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine. His every move is once again being scrutinised by the rest of the world.
West to step up aid to Ukraine
As the Russian assault on its neighbour enters its second month, Western leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday will agree to strengthen their forces in Eastern Europe and increase military aid to Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky urged them to go further, repeating his call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, where tens of thousands have died, millions have become refugees, and cities have been razed since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on February 24.
During pauses in the bombing, people in Mariupol, the southern port city that has come to symbolise Ukraine’s plight, were burying their dead and queuing for rations.
Moreover, hundreds of thousands of people have been hiding in Mariupol basements without running water, food, medicine, or electricity.
Russian hopes for a quick victory have been dashed, according to Ukrainian officials, who say the invaders have been pushed back in other areas, including around the capital Kyiv.
During a series of NATO, G7, and EU summits in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, Western leaders will warn Mr Putin that his country will pay “ruinous” costs for invading Ukraine. However, the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, is among those in attendance.
The NATO nations will agree to send Kyiv equipment to defend against biological, chemical, and nuclear attacks, fearful that Russia will escalate the conflict.
According to a US defence official, the first shipment from a new $800 million arms package for Ukraine will begin flying out in the next day or so.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the deployment of four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia to strengthen the alliance’s forces in Eastern Europe.
Mr Biden and his European counterparts, according to Washington, will announce new sanctions against Russia as well as measures to tighten existing sanctions. EU diplomats, on the other hand, downplayed the prospect of major new sanctions.
Mr Zelensky, who will deliver a video message to the NATO and EU summits, said he expects “serious steps” from Western allies.