Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his rejection of its legitimacy to exist as an independent nation has made that country an unwilling pawn in the conflict between the U.S., its European partners and Russia.

As some expected, Putin responded to the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Joe Biden and other global leaders with threats of retaliation. That has set the stage for a greater conflict with potentially ominous and far-reaching consequences — and Ukrainian civilians, mainly children, will carry the biggest burden.

On July 12, Russian President Putin wrote an article titled, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” in which he stressed the powerful ties that unite both countries.