Is War Coming?
By Raj Singh
Volume 2 Issue 5
March 28, 2022
Image provided by BBC
As you might have heard, Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. There have been estimates of 100,000 soldiers at the Russo-Ukrainian border amassed for a potential invasion. Western powers have since acted with no more than warnings to stop this. What is happening, and why is it happening?
Context: Ukraine is a nation in Eastern Europe that has historically been either an independent nation fighting for survival or under Russian control. In 2013, the current situation began; Ukraine had considered joining the European Union (EU) and made landmark political and trade deals. Though they had a Pro-Russia president who suspended talks to keep Ukraine away from the West, the citizens in Kiev, the capital city, started protesting this action in the streets. This began hostilities between Pro-Russians against Anti-Russians in Ukraine.
Russia then invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, a strategic port next to the Black Sea. Russia, a primarily cold country, has many ports that freeze over the winter; due to this issue, Russia wanted this territory as the peninsula is much warmer. In addition to the favorable Mediterranean climate, millions of Russians reside in Crimea. Russia's casus belli - a reason a nation claims it goes to war, often a lie to war without seeming like an aggressor - was to protect the rights of the millions of Russians living in Crimea. In response to Russia's declaration, Eastern regions in Ukraine then promptly rebelled, causing a brief war which a ceasefire halted. Now the ceasefire is being threatened by Russia invading Ukraine again.
INFORMATION – Russia's troops comprise of self-propelled guns, tanks, and infantry fighting vehicles. With this buildup, Russia could launch an invasion in early 2022. The troops are located 186 miles from the Ukrainian-Russian border in a training facility and could attack at any moment. Russia said the troops were there for military drills only, but there is doubt amongst the West.
Russian Opinion: The Kremlin states the military buildup and training are being done to curb Western aggression against them. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance of primarily Western countries created decades ago to stop Soviet expansion in Europe, has sold weapons and stationed NATO troops in Ukraine since the ceasefire. Due to this expansion by the West, which is viewed as an aggressive encroachment on Russian security, the Kremlin claims they are the victim and believe they can act on their own security risks.
Ukrainian Opinion: Ukraine states that Russia cannot control whether Ukraine gets closer with NATO. The government says that Russia is trying to maintain Ukrainian independence and its future. Citizens of Ukraine fear that a coup d’état, the seizure of a government and its power by an independent group, could happen as a precursor to invasion. In addition, Ukraine is currently going through an energy crisis and believes that its cause is Russia, which is attempting to destabilize the country.
NATO Opinion: NATO says if Russia were to invade Ukraine, a NATO partner, they could start economic sanctions and political restrictions on Russia. NATO has prepared the members of the alliance who reside in the Baltic region and the Black Sea for the worst. NATO cannot protect Ukraine with a military force since Ukraine is not a member of the organization. However, NATO will allow Ukraine to become a member, should it choose to, and encourages the country to defy Russia. On January 12th, 2022, a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, occurred to discuss a solution. The situation remains tense, and as I write this, world peace is at stake.
American Opinion: America is reviewing multiple options. American officials like President Biden met in Geneva to discuss peace. However, simultaneously, America was armed and continued to supply military assistance to Eastern Europe in preparation for the worst. Fiscally, America delivered 450 million dollars in assistance to Ukraine in 2021 and considered the possibility of launching economic sanctions on Russia.
Other factors: Separate from this situation, another former Soviet state has had trouble. Kazakhstan had massive unrest in its capital and in other locations, leading to a Russian-led coalition of troops sent into the state to stop the unrest. There is plenty of doubt that Russian forces will leave Kazakhstan soon.
The pipe that leads to Germany, Nord Stream 2, allegedly threatens Ukraine. It uses pipes through the Baltic Sea to pass around Eastern Europe instead of an overland route. Traditionally, the pipes would go through Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, which was a bargaining tool for the country and a source of money through tariffs. These pipes are vital to the Russian gas industry, so if Russia were ever to step out of line, Eastern Europe could cut the lines to damage the industry. However, with the new Baltic pipes, Ukraine loses, in addition to the extra income, its bargaining chip, and leverage over Russia.
The U.S. used to have sanctions on the company that built the Baltic pipes but waved them to fix its relationship with Germany depending on those lines. However, in November, America added new sanctions to the company, with growing support from U.S. senators and politicians in Ukraine.
Both sides are somewhat to blame; NATO has been encroaching closer to Russia, an aggressive action, but Russia should not have backed the separatists nor have invaded.