It can be difficult to understand what exactly is happening along the Russian-Ukrainian border without knowing the deeply woven history of the countries. That said, here is everything you need to know:
What’s wrong with Russia and Ukraine?
A build-up of Russian military forces along Russia’s shared 1,200-mile border has caused Ukrainian and Western officials to fear that a repeat of 2014 (when Kremlin-led forces annexed the Crimean peninsula) is imminent. Moscow has denied any plans to invade Kiev. US intelligence services, however postulated Such an attack could take place as early as January 2022, although the current force does not have the support necessary for an invasion of any kind. American officials have also accused Russia of “conducting an aggressive intelligence operation to politically destabilize Ukraine,” with a plan to hold Ukraine and NATO responsible for any escalation, writes CBS news.
Ukraine was a valuable part of the Soviet Union for centuries before becoming a republic in its own right, as it produced much of the wheat consumed in the USSR and at the same time as a species “buffer“Between Europe and Russia. But since Russia annexed Crimea seven years ago, Ukrainian and Russian forces have been waging proxy war in the Donbas region of Ukraine. A peace deal in 2015 ended most fighting, although minor skirmishes continue.
Given the cultural and ethnic ties between the two countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin has long claimed that Ukraine falls under Russia’s sphere of influence, but has grudgingly watched pro-Western and anti-Russian sentiment blossom over the years; In 2014, for example, the Ukrainians overthrew a pro-Putin president and have since opted to vote for politicians with a Western background.
Putin wants both NATO and Western forces to pull out of Ukraine as their influence weakens his own and poses a threat to the Russian border. Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is considered to be “valued” Organizing partner – and the Kremlin wants the assurance that the status will never be upgraded.
What could happen next
US officials are currently unsure whether Russia will press ahead with an invasion, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility. On Monday, said CIA director William Burns warned that building armed forces could allow Russia to act “very far-reaching”. The current assessment is that Russia could wait for the ground to freeze or for other European countries to be distracted from their own businesses to take action against Ukraine. But it’s still unclear whether it is Putin actually plans to occupy Kiev or seeks concessions from the West instead.
How does Ukraine feel about all of this?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes Russia’s rearmament is sending a “very dangerous” message, announcing that the Ukrainian armed forces will respond if necessary. Ukrainian officials also have asked the US for weapon systems and capabilities that they hope could hold off another invasion, considering the Russian military much more robust than that of Ukraine – but that balance of power would change with America’s help.
Also noteworthy – support for joining NATO among Ukrainians achieved 54 percent this year, 40 percent more than in 2012, not least thanks to Putin’s stance and messages on Ukraine.
What is the world community doing about it?
President Biden spoke to Putin virtually on Tuesday to ease tension and reaffirm America’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty. It seemed like no real solution was found except for Biden exclude the possibility of unilaterally dispatching US troops to Ukraine should Russia invade. Instead, the President did warned Putin, with grave economic consequences “like he has never seen before,” should Moscow advance against Kiev. Biden said he is “absolutely confident” that Putin got the message.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US would provide defense materials to Ukraine in addition to Russian sanctions in the event of an invasion.
Germany has international specified it would consider stopping Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that will soon bring Russian gas to Europe, as a sanction if necessary. The newly elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that Germany was watching the Russian movements “with great concern”.
Biden also spoke to French, Italian, British and German leaders on Monday, all of whom agreed to urge Russia to work to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Did Biden’s Democracy Summit have anything to do with it?
Somehow. The Biden Administration provided his inaugural Democracy Summit on Thursday and Friday, where he joins forces with leaders to tackle a relapse among democratic institutions around the world. Russia and China were not invited. The fact that the summit began at a particularly controversial moment in Russian-Ukrainian relations may have only underscored the government’s message in organizing the virtual meeting: autocracies are on the rise and it is up to everyone else to help enforce democracy.
How does Biden deal with Putin? Is it a different strategy than that of its predecessors?
Putin didn’t like Biden for a long time because he was announced his distrust of the Russian president as early as 2001. When Biden was vice president, he said he did not believe the Russian had a soul. Nowadays the Commander in Chief wants a “stable and predictable“Relationship with Russia and does not seem to have any illusions of broad-based cooperation.
Biden is ready the fifth US President to negotiate with Putin; and in particular, none of its predecessors “proved very effective in contacting or containing the Russian leader,” writes The Washington Post. Although Putin temporarily relinquished power during former President Barack Obama’s first term in office, the White House praised Obama’s work and called for a “reset” between the US and Moscow. The strategy wasn’t essential a success; That changed in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and forced the White House to revert to economic sanctions.
Former President Donald Trump, on the other hand, was criticized as too soft on Russia and tries to ingratiate himself with Putin. Critics claimed that, despite his infamous “America first” ideology, he even prioritized Moscow’s needs over his country’s.
But Biden has avoided most of the criticism so far – and some analysts say he is generally skeptical about Putin and Russia maybe helped also the possibility of a “constructive”, “functioning” relationship between the West and the East.