Europe’s darkest time since WWII – Russian invasion of Ukraine
On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukraine by sea, land, and air, which eventually confirmed the fears of the Western world that another state would attack one big state in Europe since World War II. Russian invasion of Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted in a speech on Wednesday night that a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine will take place. Hours after the speech, multiple news organizations reported several explosions in different Ukrainian cities, and there was evidence of larger military troops in the country undertaking operations.
Troops Built up Across the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Luhansk Regions – Russian invasion of Ukraine
Tens of thousands of troops have been built up across the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Luhansk regions and are rendered to be the largest military conflict over European soil in decades. Troops are also found at port cities of Odesa and Mariupol in the south. Russian missiles were raining down Ukrainian cities, and before dawn, Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, heard sirens and multiple explosions.
Analyzing the facts of previous days, it appears that Kremlin has been planning for the war as most preparations were in place – moving of military equipment, medical units, including blood, over to the front lines. According to a statement issued by President Joe Biden, Russia has positioned more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine. As against the backdrop, the United States and its allies were in talks with Russia. However, no solution was yet yielded from these talks.
The conflict remains to be the future of Ukraine; however, Ukraine, being a larger state for Russian invasion, appears that this act is a reassertion of Russian influence within the European region and for Putin to strengthen his legacy. Putin considers these to be no small things and that the only way to attain is to launch an attack within Ukraine. This very aggressive act can result in tens of thousands of civilian deaths, the crisis of European refugees, and harsh sanctions as a part of the response from the Western world that will also impact the global economy.
The Roots of the Current Crisis Grew from the Disintegration of the Soviet Union – Russian invasion of Ukraine
When the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 90’s Ukraine, also the former Soviet Union, possessed the third-largest atomic arsenal in the world. Both the United States and Russia joined hands with Ukraine and worked towards denuclearizing the country. Within a series of diplomatic agreements, Kyiv handed back hundreds of nuclear warheads to Russia in exchange for security reassurances, which was considered a security reassurance that would protect it from a potential Russian attack.
All these reassurances were tested in 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula and backed a revolt led by pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Donbas region. The assault from Russia resulted in mass protests within Ukraine that collapsed the country’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (partially over his rejection of a trade agreement with the European Union).
At that time, President Barrack Obama was somewhat hesitant to escalate tensions with Russia and was eventually relatively slow in mobilizing a diplomatic response within Europe and failed to provide offensive weapons to Ukraine immediately.
The post-Soviet Europe premises also have a lot to play in the current conflict. Putin is stuck over reclaiming some appearance of empire lost within the fall of the Soviet Union. Ukraine is central for the vision. According to a statement by Putin, “Russians and Ukrainians are one people – a single whole”. Russian invasion of Ukraine
NATO Membership – The Rising Conflict – Russian invasion of Ukraine
The tensions between Russia and Ukraine started to go out of control in 2021. In January 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged President Joe Biden to let the country be a member of NATO. This bolstered anger within Russia which had already started sending troops in spring to the Russian-Ukrainian border for ‘training exercises’ increased during autumn. In December, President Joe Biden hyped up the deployment of troops alongside the border and warned Russia of severe sanctions in case of an invasion.
Ukraine’s orientation toward the EU and NATO was indefensible for the national security of Russia. The prospects of Ukraine joining NATO further antagonized Putin after expressing support towards the idea by President George W. Bush in 2008. This support drove the Russians crazy and made the entire amplification issue a complicated one.
No country can be a part of the alliance without attaining a unanimous buy-in by all 30 member countries, and most of the NATO countries opposed the membership of Ukraine in detail since it failed in meeting the conditions on democracy and the rule of law.
Russian invasion of Ukraine situation placed Ukraine in an impossible position, an applicant for the NATO alliance, which is not going to be accepted while stirring a potential conflict next door without having been assured of any protection on the part of NATO.
What does Russia Want?
The Russian-Ukraine crisis can be referred to as a continuation of the one initiated in 2014.
However, recent political developments with Ukraine, the US, Europe, and Russia explain well why Putin initiated such an act.
The political developments include the Ukrainian Presidential election in 2019 and the holding of tenure by Volodymyr Zelensky, who was a comedian playing President over television and then, later on, became the actual President. Additionally, Zelensky also promised that he would ‘reboot’ peace talks for ending conflict within eastern Ukraine, including a direct deal with Putin to bring the conflict to an end.
Russia demands Zelensky to implement the 2014 and ’15 Minsk agreements, which will bring pro-Russian regions back to Ukraine but may serve as a ‘Trojan horse’ for Moscow to exert control and influence. These terms are simply unacceptable by any president holding Ukrainian decisions. So Zelensky, under continued and severe Russian pressure, turned heads towards the West and openly talked about joining the NATO alliance in Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Even the public opinion in Ukraine swayed in support of ascension into western bodies like NATO and EU. This stirred a feeling in Russia that it has exhausted all political and diplomatic tools to bring Ukraine back to fold, resulting in the current act as military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO will become even more intense and sophisticated.
What will happen if Russia invades?
In 2014, hybrid warfare was seen on the part of Putin by the deployment of unconventional tactics such as cyber hacks, irregular militias, and disinformation. There are chances that Moscow will take aggressive steps without moving Russian troops across the borders. This will escalate the proxy war and result in sweeping disinformation campaigns and hacking operations.
There are many scenarios for the Russian invasion, including deploying more troops within breakaway regions of Ukraine, blockading the country’s access to waterways, and seizing strategic regions or a full-on war, which can be evidenced by attacking Kyiv in an attempt to overtake the country. This can be very devastating as the more expansive the operations will be, the more catastrophic it will become.
What is Happening Now?
Ukraine has definitely managed to become the topmost priority for the Biden administration in the light where the President had many plans, including China, the pandemic, and climate change. The US has deployed almost 3,000 troops across Europe to show solidarity for NATO and will reportedly send additional 3,000 troops to Poland. In association with its allies, including the UK, the US has issued numerous warnings to Ukrainian citizens to leave the country immediately. The US has also closed its embassy in Kyiv, and the operations are temporarily moved to Western Ukraine.
Biden administration and its allies are planning to draft an aggressive strategy to punish Russia and have it invade again. The so-called nuclear options – gas and oil embargo – cutting off Russia from the SWIFT, electronic messaging services through which global financial transactions are made possible, appears to be unlikely because of its consequences of hurting the global economy. This is because Russia is a significant economy which is involved a lot of trade, especially in the oil, gas, and raw materials.
Reportedly, the toughest sanctions Biden administration has planned are some level of financial sanctions over Russia’s biggest banks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Penalties on Russian oligarchs are also being considered. Additionally, Nord Stream 2, the completed; however, not yet functioning gas pipeline between Russia and Germany may also get damaged in case Russia plans to escalate tensions.
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