Russia has launched a devastating attack on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people. Ukraine is in Eastern Europe and shares a border with Russia. It used to be part of the Soviet Union but became an independent country in 1991.For months President Vladimir Putin had denied he would invade his neighbour, but then he tore up a peace deal, sending forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east and south. Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the West’s defensive military alliance NATO. Mr Putin has repeatedly accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO military alliance and offer Moscow security guarantees. Mr Putin has warned that any outside power intervening on Ukraine’s behalf would face an instant response. For now it is unclear if Russia’s leader seeks to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government.