Nearly two weeks into the invasion, Russian troops have advanced deep along Ukraine’s coastline while heavy shelling has been reported for many days.

The city of Mariupol, which sits on the Azov Sea, has been surrounded by Russian soldiers for days and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the encircled city of 430,000.

Meanwhile, in the latest news from Ukraine officials, an air alert was declared in and around Kyiv in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

For days, as Moscow’s forces have laid siege to Ukrainian cities, attempts to create corridors to safely evacuate civilians have stumbled amid ongoing fighting.

Bournemouth Echo: Photo via PA.Photo via PA.

But what has lead to these horrific events and why is Russia invading Ukraine? What does Vladimir Putin want from the Ukranian people, or will we ever know?

Here's the history briefly explained.

Why is Russia attacking Ukraine? 

There's two answers to this: a simplified one and a more in depth response. 

The current difficulties date back to the overthrow in 2014 of the pro-Moscow Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, prompting fears in the Kremlin that the country was moving into the orbit of the West.

President Vladimir Putin responded by sending in troops to annex Crimea while Russian-backed separatist rebels seized territory in eastern Ukraine in bloody fighting with the Ukrainian military.

But there's a lot more to it than this.

Writing for The ConversationKathryn David, Mellon Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies at Vanderbilt University, said "to understand what’s happening now you have to dig into 1,300 years of history".

Explaining Ukraine and Russia's first links, the professor said: "Both countries trace their beginnings to the same medieval kingdom, called Kyivan Rus. It was founded in the 800s by a group of Vikings, the Varangians, who came from Northern Europe to rule over the local people. Kyivan Rus spanned what is now Russia and Ukraine, and its people, the Slavs, are the ancestors of today’s Russians and Ukrainians. Its capital was the city of Kyiv – the same Kyiv that is now the capital of Ukraine. Moscow, capital of today’s Russia, was also part of Kyivan Rus.

"Kyivan Rus was conquered by Mongol armies from Asia in 1240 and split up. Kyiv became part of a new commonwealth that spanned today’s Poland and Ukraine."

Bournemouth Echo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv, Ukraine attends a joint news conference after he held crisis talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Picture via PA taken on Tuesday February 1, 2022.Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv, Ukraine attends a joint news conference after he held crisis talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Picture via PA taken on Tuesday February 1, 2022.

By the 1500s, descendants of the Kyivan Rus princes in Moscow created their own empire - it would become imperial Russia.

"By 1654, it included Kyiv and its Ukrainian peoples along with other lands and people from Europe and Asia," the professor said.

"In imperial Russia, some saw Ukrainians as brothers to the Russians because they shared a culture dating back to medieval times. But Ukrainians said that while both groups practiced the same religion and shared some history, Ukrainian culture – such as its food, language, art and music – was different."

After a political revolution in 1917 forced Russian leader Czar Nicholas II from power, the Soviet Union was formed.

Ukrainians did not want to become part of the new Soviet empire and, despite attempts to form a country of their own, the Soviets defeated the Ukrainian people.

It marked the beginning of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR).

Ukraine was part of the USSR from 1922 to 1991 - the year the Soviet Union collapsed - and became a separate country.

Now back to 2014, the Ukranian people overthrew Viktor Yanukovych and elected a government that favoured Europe rather than Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin started to claim that most Ukrainians wanted ties with Russia. 

Bournemouth Echo: Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool, photo via AP/PA)Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool, photo via AP/PA)

Mr Putin has long contended that Ukraine’s turn towards the West is a threat to Moscow, an argument he used to justify the first week of Russia's invasion.

It is one of many pieces of misinformation used by Putin and his Government - something Valeria Kovtun, head of the national media literacy project Filter, knows lots about.

“People keep repeating the same mantra that it’s the West attacking and it’s Russia who’s bringing peace," she warned.

“You tell them that we have people hiding in the shelters because there are rockets flying over Kyiv but they still tell us it’s not true.”

Ms Kovtun said: "I am trying to promote the truth to Russians as many of them are blindfolded after over 20 years of propaganda.

“They believe this war is just Russia protecting itself."

How will Russia and Ukraine end the war?

To end the conflict, Putin previously told French President Emmanuel Macron that negotiations must centre on the “neutralisation and disarmament of Ukraine".

Speaking on March 3, 2022, an official at the French Elysee presidential palace said Mr Putin told Mr Macron the invasion will continue “until the end” unless negotiations meet his terms.