Tensions Rising Between Russia and Ukraine

Posted by on Jan 26, 2022 in Current Events

­Russia and Ukraine are two neighboring nations with a tumultuous history. Now, they are facing their highest level of tension in years. So, what’s happening, and how worried should the global community be? Here, btw takes a closer look.

Recent Tensions

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia began to escalate in 2013. Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych suspended political and economic negotiations with the European Union (EU). Many Ukrainians protested this, believing that Yanukovych really wanted to keep closer alliances with Russia than with the EU.

The Ukrainian government has tried to establish alliances with the western nations and economic systems of Europe. Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, however, Russia has tried to maintain a relationship with Ukraine.

Since 2014, Russian forces have occupied Donbas, a southeastern Ukrainian region that borders Russia. Also in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian territory, and has amassed tens of thousands of troops at its naval base there. Much of eastern and southern Ukraine have many ethnic Russians living there. In the early years following the collapse of the USSR and the establishment of independent Ukraine, many citizens in this part of the nation voted in favor of Russian being the official language. Even so, Ukraine’s independent government has resisted Russian annexation.

This Russian control of Crimea is considered by most of the world to be illegitimate. Russia denies that they are occupying this area. However, a number of small skirmishes have arisen here in recent years.

According to the United Nations (UN), since 2014, there have been more than three thousand civilian deaths resulting from conflicts between Russia and Ukraine.

What’s Going On Now?

The United States and other Western nations have repeatedly warned Russia against showing any more aggression against Ukraine. Despite this, Russia has recently sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Russian-Ukrainian border. In December 2021, U.S. intelligence agencies took satellite photos showing Russian guns, tanks, and other infantry moving at a training ground about 186 miles from the Ukrainian border. These intelligence sources say that Russia could invade Ukraine within the next few months. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, there was also a recent plot by Ukrainians and Russians to stage a coup and overthrow his government.

Russia, however, denies doing anything wrong. Russia says that NATO has caused the aggression, by giving Ukraine weapons supplies and military training, which threatens Russia’s security. Russia also says that any perceived military action or movement on their part is just routine military drills. Also, according to Russia, Ukraine has also been building up its own military in a show of aggression against Russia.

What’s Next?

Tank on exercises.
Military tensions are rising along the Ukraine and Russian border

Ukraine is not a full-fledged NATO member, but it is a NATO partner. Because of this, NATO has made it clear that any Russian invasion will lead to retaliation in the form of economic sanctions, political restrictions, or even military action. President Biden has also stated that if Russia invades Ukraine, the White House is prepared to retaliate with harsh economic consequences. In December 2021, President Biden spoke twice to Putin to attempt to find a diplomatic solution. But those was achieved. On Friday, January 21st, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met to try to de-escalate the situation.

The United States has also made more direct military actions. It sent a shipment of ammunition to Ukraine on Friday, January 21, 2022. The U.S. military had already sent guided missile systems to Ukraine in October 2021 and other military equipment in recent years. Military leaders in the Pentagon also placed over 8,000 soldiers on alert. They may rapidly deploy to eastern Europe if the situation continues to move toward an invasion.

By Sunday, January 23, the. U.S. State Department warned family members of embassy staff in Kyiv, Ukraine to consider leaving the country. They are also extending the warning to nonessential embassy workers.

Dig Deeper To better grasp the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it’s important to have a good understanding of the area. On a map, locate and identify the following places: Russia, Ukraine, Moscow, Kyiv, Donbas, and Crimea.