The tensions between Ukraine and Russia have reached an unprecedented level. Russia recognized 2 regions of Ukraine as independent nations. The two countries are on the verge of war. Russia has already started nuclear maneuvers with tests of ballistic and cruise missiles. The US has called this test of Russia a countdown to the attack on Ukraine. Lakhs of Russian soldiers have been stationed on the Ukrainian border for the past few months to put pressure on Ukraine and it is believed that Russia can attack Ukraine at any time. It is feared that if this war happens, then the whole world will have to face its serious consequences. In this context, let us understand why Russia-Ukraine is standing on the verge of war and how will this war affect the world?
The bone of contention:
To understand the reason behind the latest dispute between Russia-Ukraine, we have to delve deep into history. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution led in 1917, Ukraine declared independence in 1918, but in 1922 Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union after the defeat by Lenin’s army in 1921. The struggle for independence from Russia continued in Ukraine and several armed groups tried to revolt against Russia, which did not succeed. In 1954, the Supreme Leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev gifted the Crimea Islands to Ukraine to suppress this rebellion.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine declared its independence. As soon as it became independent, Ukraine started trying to get rid of Russian influence and for this Ukraine came closer to Western countries.
In 2010, Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovich became the President of Ukraine. Yanukovich maintained close ties with Russia and rejected Ukraine’s decision to join the European Union, which met with strong opposition in Ukraine. Because of this, Viktor Yanukovich had to step down in 2014. In the same year, Petro Poroshenko, who became the President of Ukraine, signed a deal with the European Union.
In 2014, Russia occupied the Ukrainian city of Crimea by attacking it. In December 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukraine will join NATO. Since this announcement by Ukraine, Russia is not happy as it does not want Ukraine to join NATO.
About 8 million people of Russian descent living in Ukraine. When annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia said it had done so to protect the Russian people living there.
Due to the large Russian-origin population in Ukraine, people there are divided into two factions. One of these factions supports Russia, while the other has been a supporter of the European Union and US-backed NATO.
Significance of Ukraine to Russia and West:
Russia shares a border with Ukraine, so it becomes strategically important for its security. Russia believes that if Ukraine joins NATO this will endanger Russian security.
Besides, US President Joe Biden wants to raise his stature with the Ukraine issue, after the condemnation received by the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. With Ukraine in its court, the USA once again wants to beat Russia in the game of diplomacy.
European countries and the United States are trying to prevent Russia from increasing dominance in Europe through Ukraine. If Russia attacks Ukraine, then America’s dominance, which has won the Cold War, will be diminished.
Why Russia doesn’t want Ukraine to join NATO?
Ukraine has a border of more than 2 thousand kilometers with Russia. Russia fears that if Ukraine joins NATO, forces of NATO will reach the Russian border. In such a situation, in the event of a dispute with Ukraine, NATO countries will wage war against Russia, which will not be good for Russia’s security at all.
If Ukraine joined NATO, Russia’s capital, Moscow, would be only 640 kilometers from the West. Right now this distance is about 1600 kilometers. Due to these reasons, Russia has been issuing warnings about Ukraine joining NATO. Russia wants a guarantee that Ukraine will never join NATO.