In August 2013, a summer evening at a beachside nightclub in the Black Sea resort of Sochi was an intense and exhilarating experience. The crowd was packed with people, all eager to witness the mixed martial arts contest between Russian fighters and a “world” team. Scantily dressed women cheered them on with Russian flags, adding to the excitement in the air.
As the contest progressed, it became clear that Russia was dominating. One by one, they achieved victory after victory, leaving their opponents struggling to keep up. The climax of the event came when a 44-year-old American fighter was knocked out, leaving the home squad triumphant.
What few people realized at the time was that this event would be just the beginning of Russia’s path to war. Little did anyone know that six months later, President Vladimir Putin would initiate the country’s invasion of Ukraine by seizing Crimea from its borders. Now, as we enter the third year of this conflict next week, it is clear that Russia has no intention of stopping until they have achieved their ultimate goal.