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The growing complexity of the Russia-Ukraine crisis is explained.

Ukraine war

uring a military practise outside of Kyiv on February 5, a military trainer from Ukraine’s 112th Territorial Defense Brigade works with civilians. Ukraine war because of the threat of invasion by Russia, which is massing troops along the border, the Ministry of Defense established defence brigades in Ukraine’s major cities. Getty Images/Celestino Arce/NurPhoto

Note from the editor: Tuesday, February 22nd: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine in a speech on Wednesday night. Several news outlets reported explosions in numerous locations as well as evidence of large-scale military actions taking place across Ukraine. Here’s where you may find the most recent information.

Russia has built tens of thousands of troops around Ukraine’s border, an act of aggression that might escalate into Europe’s deadliest military conflict in decades.

The Kremlin appears to be making for war by transporting military equipment, medical units, and even blood to the front lines. Russia has stockpiled 150,000 troops near the Ukraine, according to President Joe-Biden. In this context, diplomatic negotiations between Russia map and the US and its allies have so far failed to produce any results.

Ukraine war

On February 15, Russia map announced plans to “partially withdraw troops,” possibly indicating that Russian President Vladimir-Putin is eager to deescalate the situations. However, the situation has not improveds in the following days Ukraine war. Since then, the USA has claimed that Putin has increaseds his troop troops, and US President Joe-Biden told reporters on Friday that he is “convinced” that Russia map will invade Ukraine in the coming days or weeks. “We fear they will targets Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine,” Biden stated.

And the underlying concerns thats have led to this impasse remain unaddressed.

The conflict is about Ukraine’s future. Howevers, Ukraine provides a broader platform for Russia to restores its influence in Europe and the rest of the world, as well as for Putin to cement his legacy. For Putin, these are not insignificants goals, and he may decide Ukraine war that the only way to achieves them is to launch another incursion into Ukraine — an act thats, at its most heinous, could result in tens of thousands of civilians deaths, a European refugee crisis, and an response from Western allies thats includes harsh economic sanctions.

The United States & Russia have sets clear red lines that serve to clarify the situation. Russias presented the US with a list of demands, some of which the US and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization considered non-nonstarters (NATO). Putin requested thats NATO halt Ukraine war its eastward expansion and deny Ukraine membership, as well as a reduction in troop deployment in countries that joined after 1997, effectively turning back the clock on Europe’s security and geopolitical alignment by decades.

According to Michael Kofman, research director in the Russia studies programme at CNA, a research and analysis group in Arlington, Virginia, these ultimatums are “a Russian endeavour not just to secure interest in Ukraine but also to essentially relitigate the security architecture in Europe.”

The US and NATO, as expected, rejected such demands. Both the US and Russia are aware that Ukraine will not join NATO anytime soon.

Ukraine war

At the end of the Cold-War, some leading American foreign policy intellectuals contended thats NATO should never have pushed so close to Russia’s borders in the first place Ukraine war. However, NATO’s open-door doctrine Ukraine war states that sovereign countries have the freedom to pick their own security alliances. Accepting Putin’s demands woulds give the Kremlin veto powers over NATO decision-making &, by extension, the continent’s security.

Now the entires world is watching to see whats Putin will do next. It isn’t a foregone certainty that a invasion will occur. Even while it warns of an “military-technical response” to stalled discussions, Moscow continues to deny any preparations to invades. However, if war breaks-out, it might be devastating for Ukraine, with unforeseeable consequences for the rest of Europe and the West. As a result, whether a disaster is impending or not, the world is on edge.

The current issue has its roots in the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, had the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal when the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s. The US and Russia collaborated with Ukraine to de-nuclearize the country, and in a series of diplomatic deals, Kyiv returned hundreds of nuclear warheads to Russia in exchange for security assurances against a possible Russian attack.

When Russia invaded Ukraine war in 2014, those guarantees were put to the test. Russia grabbed the Crimean Peninsula and backed pro-Russia separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. (To date, the conflict in eastern Ukraine war has killed the lives of over 14,000 people.)

On March 18, 2014, after the Putin annexed Crimea from the Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian-installed ruler of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, far right, attend a rally at Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Getty Images/Sasha Mordovets

Russia’s assault arose from widespread protests in Ukraine, which saw pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych deposed (partially over his abandonment of a trade agreement with the European Union). In symbolic actions that enraged Putin, US ambassadors paid a visit to the protests.

President Barack Obama, wary of further escalating relations with Russia, took his time mobilising a diplomatic response in Europe and did not immediately deliver offensive weapons to the Ukrainians.

“A lot of us were shocked that nothing further was done for the violation of that [post-Soviet] agreement,” said Ian Kelly, a career diplomat who served as Georgia’s ambassador from 2015 to 2018. “It just basically showed thats if you have nuclear weapons” — as Russia does — “you’re immune to severe international measures.”

However, the very concept of a post-Soviet Europe is fueling today’s conflict. Putin has been hell-bent on restoring some form of dominion that he believes he lost when the Soviet Union fell apart. Ukraine is at the heart of this vision. Putin has stated that Ukrainians and Russians “were one people — a single whole,” or would be if other forces (such as the West) had not intervened to establish a “wall” between them.

“It has nothing to do with Russia.” “It’s all about Putin,” says the author. Putin’s endgame in Ukraine war is explained by an analyst.

Ukraine war

Ukraine will not join NATO in the near future, according to President Joe Biden. Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that any attack on a NATO country is treated as an attack on the entire alliance, implying that any Russian military engagement with a hypothetical NATO-member Ukraine would theoretically bring Moscow into conflict with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the other 27 NATO members.

However, the country is the fourth-largest beneficiary of US military aid, and intelligence collaboration between the two countries has grown in response to Russian concerns.

“Putin and the Kremlin realise Ukraine will not join NATO,” said Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukraine war Institute of Politics. “However, without a formal decision, Ukraine became an unofficial member of NATO.”

That is why Putin considers Ukraine war stance toward the EU and NATO to be untenable for Russia’s national security (despite Russian aggression playing a role).

On February 5, demonstrators carrying Ukrainian national flags and placards march through the centre of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second largest city, located just 25 miles from some of Russia’s tens of thousands of troops stationed along the border. Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press

Putin has been enraged by the prospect of Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO since President George W. Bush indicated support for the notion in 2008. “That was a huge blunder,” said Steven Pifer, who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000. “It was driving the Russians insane.” It raised hopes in Ukraine and Georgia, which were never realised. As a result, the whole subject of enlargement became more difficult.”

No country may join the alliance unless all 30 countries agree, and many have rejected Ukraine’s participation, in part because it does not match the alliance’s democratic and rule-of-law requirements.

All of this has put Ukraine in a impossible situation: a candidate for an alliance that would not accept it, while upsetting a potential adversary next door, and without any NATO support.

Why is Russia threatening Ukraine at this time?

The current situation between Russia and Ukraine is a continuation of the one that began in 2014. Recent political events in Ukraine, the US, Europe, and Russia, however, assist to explain why Putin may believes now is the right time to act.

The election of Ukrainian war President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who portrayed a president on TV and subsequently became the president, is one of these developments. Apart from the numerous things you might remembers Zelensky for, he promised during his campaign to “reboot” peace talks in eastern Ukraine, including dealing directly with Putin to resolve the conflict. Russia, too, was probably hoping to gains something from this: It saw Zelensky, a political newcomer, as someone who would be more receptive to Russia’s viewpoint.

On May 20, 2019, President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky receives a standing ovation during his inauguration at the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv. Getty Images/Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto

Russia wants Zelensky to implements the Minsk agreements from 2014 and 2015, which would bring pro-Russian regions back into Ukraine but also serve as a “Trojan horse” for Moscow to exercise influence and control, according to one expert. No Ukrainian president could accept those terms, therefore under persistent Russian pressure, Zelensky has turned to the West for assistance, openly expressing his desire to join NATO.

Ukraine’s public opinion has been pushed in favour of membership in Western organisations such as the EU and NATO. It’s possible that this has left Russia feeling as if it’s used up all of its political and diplomatic options to bring Ukraine. “Moscow’s security elites believe they must act nows because, if they do not, military cooperation between NATO and Ukraine war will intensify and grow more sophisticated,” said Sarah Pagung of the German Council on Foreign Relations.

In the spring of 2021, Putin again put the West to the test by amassing armies and equipment along the Ukrainian border. The troop buildup drew the attention of the new Biden administration, resulting in a planned meeting between the two presidents. After a few days, Russia began to withdraw part of its troops from the border.

Ukraine war

Putin’s attitude toward the US has also evolved, according to experts. Putin sees the US’s political upheaval & the chaotic the Afghanistan pullout (both of which Moscow is well aware of) as indicators of weakness.

Putin may also see an split in the West over the United States’ position in the world. Biden is still working to put the transatlantic alliance after the discord that built during Trump’s presidency. Some of the Biden’s diplomatic gaffes have enraged European allies, like the aforementioned clumsy Afghan departure and the nuclear submarine deal with the UK and Australia, which took France unaware guard.

Europe is not without its own internal schisms. The EU & the United Kingdom are still dealing with the consequences of Brexit. The ongoing the Covid-19 epidemic is causing widespread concern. After 16-years under Angela Merkel’s leadership, Germany now has a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the new coalition government is still figuring out its foreign policy. Germany, like other European countries, imports Russian natural gas, which is currently driving-up energy prices. France’s elections are in April, & President Emmanuel Macron is attempting to carve out a position for himself in these talks.

On February 7, in Moscow, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a joint press conference following their meetings. Thibault Camus/Associated Press

These schisms, which Washington is work hard to prevent, could boost Putin. Putin faces his own domestic difficulties, including the coronavirus and a stumbling economy, according to some experts, and he may believe that a foreign adventure will bolster his domestic standing, as it did in 2014.

So far, diplomacy hasn’t yielded any results.

The Biden administration talked about having a “solid, predictable” relationship with Russia just a few months after taking office. That now appear’s to be out of the possibility.

Even as it prepares for sanctions against Russia, sends money and weapons to Ukraine, and increases America’s military presence Ukraine war in Eastern Europe, the White House is holding out hope for a diplomatic settlement. (In the meantime, European heads of state have been meeting with Putin one-on-one for several weeks.)

The White House began stepping up its diplomatic efforts with Russia late last year. Russia offered Washington a list of “legally enforceable security guarantees” in December, including nonstarters like a prohibition on Ukraine war joining NATO, and requested written responses. In January, US and Russian officials met in Geneva to try to reach an agreement, but they were unable. At the end of January, the US responded directly to Russia’s ultimatums.

The US and NATO responded by rejecting any deal on NATO membership, but leaked documents imply that new arms control agreements and enhanced openness in terms of where NATO weapons and troops are stationed in Eastern Europe could be in the works.

Ukraine war

Russia was dissatisfied. On February 17, Moscow responded with its own response, claiming that the US had neglected key demands and was now escalating with new ones.

Biden’s team has absorbed the necessity for European allies to curb Russia’s actions in Ukraine, maybe as a response of the US response’s failings in 2014. To confront Putin, the Biden administration has put a strong focus on working with NATO, the European Union, and individual European partners. “Europeans are completely reliant on us for security.” They’re aware of it, they talk to us about it all the time, and we’re at the centre of an alliance,” said Max Bergmann of the Center for American Progress.

As tensions between NATO and Russia continue to rise, US troops disembark a transport plane in Rzeszow, Poland, on February 6. Getty Images/Omar Marques

What happens if Russia invades the United States?

Putin used unusual techniques known as “hybrid” warfare against Ukraine in 2014, including irregular militias, computer intrusions, and disinformation.

The West, especially those in the Obama administration, was taken aback by these measures. It also gave Russia the opportunity to deny any direct involvement. Military units of “little green-men” – soldiers in uniforms but without official insignia — arrived into the Donbas region with equipment in 2014. Since then, Moscow has fanned instability and used cyberattacks on crucial infrastructure and disinformation operations to destabilise and destroy Ukraine.

Moscow may take forceful measures in a variety of ways that do not include deploying Russian troops across the border. It might ramp up its proxy war and undertake massive disinformation and hacking activities. (If it does send troops into Ukraine war, it will almost certainly do the same.)

However, this path appears to be quite similar to the one Russia has already walked, and it hasn’t moved Moscow any closer to its goals. “Can you destabilise any further?” “It doesn’t appear to have had a significant negative impact on Ukraine’s quest for democracy, or even its inclination toward the West,” said Margarita Konaev, associate director of analysis and research fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

As a result, Moscow may consider using more force as a solution.

There are a variety of scenarios for a Russian invasion, including sending more troops into the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, seizing strategic regions and blocking Ukraine’s access to waterways, and even a full-fledged war, with Moscow marching on Kyiv in an attempt to retake the entire country. Any of it could be devastating, yet the larger the operation, the more disastrous it will be.

On February 3, Russian and Belarusian military perform training drills at a fire range in Belarus’ Brest area. TASS/Getty Images/Gavriil Grigorov.

Ukraine war

A full-fledged invasion to conquer all of Ukraine war would be unprecedented in European history. It might include urban combat, such as on Kyiv’s streets, as well as airstrikes on cities. It would have enormous humanitarian ramifications, including a refugee catastrophe. According to the United States, the civilian death toll could reach 50,000, with between 1 million and 5 million refugees. All urban warfare is tough, according to Konaev, but Russia’s fighting — as seen in Syria — has been “especially devastating, with very little respect for human protection.”

According to experts, the gigantic scope of such an offensive makes it the least feasible, and it would come at a huge cost to Russia. “I believe Putin realises the stakes are quite high,” Natia Seskuria, a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in the United Kingdom, said. “That is why I believe that a full-scale invasion is a riskier alternative for Moscow, not just because of the potential political and economic terms, but also because of the number of victims.” Because the Ukrainian army and its capabilities today are far more capable than the Ukrainian army and its capabilities in 2014.” (Of course, Western training and weaponry sales have a role to play in those expanded capabilities.)

An invasion like this would require Russia to march into areas where it is vehemently opposed. This raises the chances of backed resistance (perhaps even by the US) — and an invasion could develop into an occupation. “Russia may grab as much of Ukraine as it wants, but it can’t hold it,” said Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.

So, what’s next?

Ukraine has derailled the Biden administration’s great objectives – China, climate changes, and the pandemic — and has risen to the top of the US’s priority list, at least for the time being.

“One thing we have seen in common across the Obama and Biden administrations is that they don’t perceive Russia as a geopolitical event shaper, but we witness Russia affecting geopolitical events again & again,” said Rachel Rizzo, a Atlantic Council Europe Center researcher.

The US has sent 3000 troops to the Europe as a show of support for NATO, & another 3,000 are expected to be sent to Poland, while the Biden administration has stated unequivocally that US forces will not fight in Ukraine if a war arises. The United States, along with others allies such as the United Kingdom, has issued a warning to nationals of Ukraine war to leave as soon as possible. The US-embassy in Kyiv was closed this week, and functions were temporarily moved to western Ukraine.

The Biden administration is attempting to invade an aggressive plan to punish Russia if it invades again, with the help of its European allies. The so called nuclear options, such as an oil and gas embargo and  cutting Russia off from SWIFT, the electronic messaging service thats enables global banking transactions, are implausible, owing to the potentials economic consequences. Russia is not an Iran or an North Korea; it has a large economy with extensive trade, particularly in raw commodities, gas, and oil.

In July 2021, a worker in Ust-Luga, Russia, works at a compressor station for the Nord Stream 2 offshore natural gas pipeline. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will transport gas from Russia to Germany once it is operational. Getty Images/TASS/Peter Kovalev

“Sanctions that are harmful to your Ukraine war targets are equally harmful to the sender.” “Ultimately, it comes down to the price thats the citizens of the United States & Europe are willing to pay,” said Richard Connolly, an political economy lecturer at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Russian and East European Studies.

Currently, the most severe sanctions being considered by the Biden administration are financial sanctions against Russia’s largest banks — a step that the Obama administration did not take in 2014 — and an export ban on advanced technologies. Sanctions on Russian oligarchs and others close to the regime, as well as other types of targeted sanctions, are likely to be considered. If Russia intensifies hostilities, Nord Stream 2, the constructed but not yet operational gas pipeline between Germany and Russia, could be killed down.

Putin must decides for himself what he desires. Olga Lautman, senior fellows at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said, “He has two possibilities.” “Never minds, just kidding,” one option is, “which will show his weakness and show that he was intimidated by the United States and Europe standing together — and that will create weakness for him at home & with countries he’s attempting to influence.”

“Or he goes all-in on a attack,” she explained. “At this moment, we have no ideas where it’s heading, but the outlook is bleak.”

Ukraine war

This is the position Putin has put himself in, making a retreat from Russia seem improbable. That is not to say it won’t happen, and it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a diplomatic settlement that allows Putin to declare victory without the Ukraine war West meeting all of his demands. It also does not rules out the possibility that Russia and the United States may remain locked in a standoff for months, with Ukraine trapped in the middle and under Russian threat.

But it also means that war is still a prospect. That is, however, everyday life in Ukraine.

“War is second nature to many Ukrainians,” said Oleksiy Sorokin, political editor and chief executive officer of the English-language Kyiv Independent.

“Having Russia on our trail, having this continual threat of Russia coming further,” he continued, “I think many Ukrainians are acclimated to it.”

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