Updated: May 29
Image Credits: The Atlantic
The world grips in fear and uncertainty as the Russian president Vladimir Putin declares war on the country of Ukraine following a state announcement made by him on Russian state TV informing the people about a “military operation” to be conducted in Ukraine. The result was the hundreds of Russian missiles raining down, causing havoc on Ukrainian cities and Russian paratroopers dropping in Ukrainian territories. While president Volodymyr Zelensky condemns the Russian attack and urges the Ukrainian citizens to take up arms against the Russian troops, thousands of Ukrainian citizens have fled from cities and are now taking shelter anywhere possible.
The war between Russia and Ukraine going on right now is an excellent example of clever international politics being played. Before we analyze that, we need to understand the reasons for the tensions between the two countries and what eventually made the president of one of the most powerful countries to invade a seemingly small nation.
During the Soviet era, Ukraine was the second most powerful nation of the USSR both economically and militarily, sharing close ethnic and cultural ties with Russia. Ukraine, also being a geo-strategically important nation, always had an important role to act as a buffer zone between Russia and the west. The ongoing tensions between Russia and the West (US/EU/NATO mainly) compelled the western powers to try and win over Ukraine to their side to reduce Russia’s influence on the world and hence prevent it from becoming a dominant superpower. The major reason for this could be the location of the Black-sea region, a marginal Mediterranean-sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia. Being a crossroad area and a very strategic economic intersection, accessing the region greatly enhances the economic and power capability of the nation. Moscow sees the black-sea as a very important geo-economic region which is crucial for the protection of trade and services with the European markets and also make southern Europe more dependent on Russian oil/gas.
Keeping the economic reasons aside, there lies a culturally-driven political motive as well. The Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk are majorly “pro-Russian” and have declared themselves as independent republics. The areas have been under constant strain of conflict between the rebels and the Ukrainian forces since 2014. Ukraine alleges that Russia actively supports the provinces and also provides resources to fight the forces. It also claims that the “rebel forces'' also contain Russian paramilitary forces comprising about 15%-80% of the total rebel force. What fuelled the protests of the Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk region comprising a part of eastern Ukraine) was the earlier protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine in November 2013. The protests were done, condemning the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend signing closer ties with the European Union and choosing closer ties with the Eurasian economic union. Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in 2014 was the largest annexation of territory made by any country since the second world war. After military intervention in Crimea due to the Ukrainian revolution (the revolution of dignity) causing widespread unrest over southern and eastern Ukraine, Russia held a maritime advantage over the territory.
Credits: Wikimedia Commons
These closely knitted events were indirectly connected to NATO. Ukraine has been urging NATO to speed up the process of its membership which Russia was completely opposed to. Russia alleged that due to Ukraine’s easy access to the Black-sea region, NATO would expand its influence over Asia and be a direct threat to Russia at its own doorstep. Putin has also claimed that NATO broke its agreement on “expansion policy” but NATO has denied these claims. Ukraine joined NATO’s North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in 1991 and signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NNPT). Technically, this makes Ukraine an ally of NATO.
President of the USA, Joe Biden has urged NATO to send its forces to European nations near the areas of conflict between Ukraine and Russia. His reason was to “protect the NATO allies surrounding the region of conflict”. Whatever may the reason be, right now there has been no single effective measures to stop the conflicts apart from the usual sanctions. Ukraine for now has been left alone to face an adversary of far greater might and resources and it seems that the UN has been quite a spectator in sleep. India on the other hand has taken a neutral stand on the conflict and as of 22nd February on the emergency meeting called upon by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), urged both sides to “show restraint and work towards peace”. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war and work through a dialogue with NATO and Ukraine.
Whatever may be the outcome of this war one thing is certain and that is the loss of life and property. The global economy has already been heavily impacted days after the conflict started. Oil prices, for starters, hit $100 a barrel for the first time in seven years. Gold prices surge over rupees 53,000 in India in 2020 while investors lost over rupees 13 lakh in the crash of the Bombay Stock Exchange on 24th of February. The Crypto market sees a $242 million sell-off just within a few hours of war while the Russian stock market also faces a crisis as the US sanctions Russian institutions and the UK froze the assets of all the Russian banks working in the UK. Germany halts the deal with Russia of a nearly $10 billion Russia-Germany pipeline.
The world powers need to make bold statements and provide practical ways to counter Russia’s move. The United Nations needs to realize its duties and the threat level of the situation and should warn NATO over its expansionist policy while sending immediate relief packages and peacekeeping forces to provide help to the distressed states. The world needs to help Ukraine and de-escalate the situation between Russia and Ukraine so as to keep the economy from crashing and prevent more loss of lives and property. In this war, everyone is to be blamed and this means that everyone needs to come together for the sake of peace.
I have a good interest in international relations and world politics and can analyse events pretty quickly.