This backgrounder explains the significance and risks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. See each question and answer included in this backgrounder on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the bottom of this post.

Following World War II, the democratic west formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to block Soviet expansion. The original signatories of the organization included twelve nations from western Europe along with the US and Canada. At the heart of NATO stood an agreement; if the Soviet Union attacked any member of NATO, all the other members would come to their aid. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many former Soviet states and allies joined NATO, increasing its membership to 30 nations.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but Vladimir Putin views the expansion of NATO as a national security threat to Russia. NATO members have supported Ukraine’s nationalism and its increasing orbit into western interests, while Russia has supported Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. In recent years, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed interest in joining NATO. Additionally, NATO has poured millions of dollars in arms and military aid into Ukraine. Putin sees that as a direct threat to Russia’s national security.


Learn more about the background and facts behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine through this set of backgrounds and explanations. Subscribe to the blog to stay up to date when new backgrounders are posted.

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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at