Catherine Wanner is a professor of History and Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University.
As the anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine is commemorated, there are many reasons why Ukrainians insist that global support must not waiver for Ukrainian forces and their fight to secure Ukrainian sovereignty. Russian leaders have demonstrated that they believe their possession of nuclear arms translates into an ability to exercise imperial ambitions by violating international law with impunity. Russia watchers the world over have long connected the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the inciting of an armed separatist movement in eastern Ukraine in 2014 with the 1990–92 manufactured “frozen conflict” in Transdniestria, Moldova, which borders western Ukraine, and the Russian seizure of 20 percent of Georgian territory in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. In each instance, similar tactics were deployed to destabilize a neighboring former Soviet republic to expand Russian domination in the region. Analogous forms of brutal Russian aggression to those we have witnessed for one year in Ukraine were preceded by wanton destruction of civilian populations and civilian infrastructure in the Russian republic of Chechnya in 1992 and 1995 and in Syria beginning in 2015 against opponents of the vicious regime of Bashar al-Assad.