To mark a year since Ukraine was invaded by Russia The Independent brought together a panel of experts on the eve of the anniversary to discuss what has happened since and what is likley to happen next.
News editor Steph Cockroft hosted the virtal event and was joined by Russia expert and columnist for The Independent Mary Dejevsky, The Independent’s international correspondent Bel Trew, live from Ukraine, and Tim White a journalist who has been reporting from the war torn country for much of the past 12 months and updating his thousands of followers on Twitter regularly from the ground.
The war has had a multitude of repercussions, not only across the rest of Europe but across the world, and of course has left the nation at the heart of it in utter devastation.
Our panel looked back at some of the key moments from the past year.
Ms Dejevsky spoke about what provoked the Russians into invading in the first place.
She said: “There are robably two main backgrounds to the invasion of Ukraine. One of them the longer term background which is that Russia was permanently worried about the expansion of NATO, as it saw it, up to its borders and what looked like the imminent expansion of NATO to include Ukraine. Russia saw it as a direct threat to its security.
“But the short term, immediate impetus for Russia’s invasion was the fact that in December, that is six weeks before it invaded, it sent two dispatches; one to the United States and one to NATO. It wanted talks with the Unites States, with NATO on a Eurpoean security arrangement that would include Russia, it would include Nato and it set out some broad guidelines for that. That wasn’t picked up and it was a fatal mistake because it paved the way for Russia feeling like it wasn’t being listened to and the next thing we knew Russian troops had crossed the border.”
Asked about weapons and whether more being supplied to Ukraine from allies around the world, such as the UK and the US, would have made a significant difference to the progress of the war, there was a resounding agreement from the experts.
To see the event in full watch the recording below
Ukraine at war: A year since Russia invaded but what next?
Ms Trew said: “There was a feeling in February, this time last year, that Ukraine would have fallen in days. That didn’t happen simply because the Ukrainian army, except for pockets like Kershon, fought back in an incredible way. Had they had these HIMAR missles sooner for example that might have sped up the process. We would have seen, what could have even been a victory earlier on but at the same time there were these internal problems in the south and other areas where we were seeing alleged collaboration with the Russian forces. It would have been a different ball game, you wouldn’t have had the death toll that we have right now, we wouldn’t have seen the occupation of areas and the potential tens of thousands of war crime cases we are seeing right now.”
While Mr White added: “I was last there (in Ukraine) in December and even then they were saying ‘give us the leopards, give us the leopards’ as Mary was saying, meaning give us the tanks. The first real game changer was the arrival of the long range HIMAR missle systems, with other systems hopefully about to arrive and with tanks hopefully arriving it will make a difference.
“But I made the point earlier, it’s too slow. If all of this had been planned and brought to Ukraine within three or four months of the war starting it would be over by now one way or another and I am fairly certain it would be over with the reign of Putin in Russia and with Ukraine restoring its integrity on the map.”
At the end of the event, viewers were also shown the trailer for The Body in the Woods, a new Independent TV feature-length documentary from Bel Trew, which delves into Ukraine’s unprecedented search for its missing and dead.
Watch the trailer
Official trailer: The Body in the Woods
The Body in the Woods will be released on 1 March. Viewers will be able to watch it online at the Independent TV hub (independent.tv), on The Independent’s new smart TV app, and on the Independent mobile app.
The Independent TV app is available globally on a number of smart TV (‘CTV’ – connected TV) platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Sony smart TVs. In the coming weeks, LG, Samsung and Roku will be added.
The premiere of the documentary is due to be held at Kyiv railway station on Saturday 25 February and will be followed by charity screenings in London and New York.