Russia vs Ukraine

Russia vs Ukraine or NATO: Where do the conflict lies? | Muhammad Hurrairah

A tussle between Russia and US-led west is ongoing on the sphere of influence in Russian neighborhood. Almost after two months of standoff between Ukraine and Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday, has announced that it will pull back its troops from border to barracks.

The satellite images released by Ukraine in last year November show that more than 100,000 troops were stationed along the Ukrainian border. Another 30,000 soldiers are stationed in Belarus about 30 miles off the Ukrainian border along with high end military hardware such as missile systems threatening Ukraine from the northern border. According to a statement of the Russian defense ministry’s Chief Spokesperson “the purpose of this formation of troops along the Ukrainian border is to conduct military exercises”. Major General Igor Konashenkov said “A number of combat training measures including exercises have been carried out in accordance with the plan”.

Read More: Tensions Between Russia & Ukraine: A Global War at Doorsteps

Although Ukraine is not yet a NATO member, still US have helped ease the tensions and it was the first country along with European partners to announce economic sanctions against Russia in case of any aggression. President Biden also assured Ukrainian counterpart that US will “respond decisively” if Russia invades Ukraine. Seeking the opportunity US also expanded its weapon market and has provided Ukraine with ammunition worth $200 million in the form of security support package. This military aid arrived in Kiev, Ukraine capital in two shipments. The first consignment arrived on Saturday January 22nd while the second batch arrived on the very next day January 23rd. This package includes ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles (ATMGs) and other valuable military hardware weighing several thousands of tons. UK has contributed with about 2000 short range NLAW missiles while the US has transferred some of the most advanced anti-tank weapons “Javelin” which can target a bunker or armored vehicle from as far as 2000 meters. A javelin once launched from the launcher it does not need any further guidance. While Germany has so far repeatedly rejected delivery of arms to Ukraine.

NATO has reshuffled its military presence in Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets and forces on standby. On the other hand, some countries even evacuated non-essential embassy staff from Kyiv.

The acute threat of a military confrontation or war has been possibly reduced but the number of troops Russia pulled off is still unclear. Despite all this, the issue which resulted in a two month or more standoff is still unresolved. The conflict started due to the Ukraine’s inclination toward West and a possible decision of joining the NATO.

Earlier in December, Russia had issued a list comprising the demands it asked from NATO to fulfill in order to lower the tensions in Europe. As the joining of Ukraine will cause an uproar in the anti-Russia charge. Russia wants to stop the extension of NATO as assured to Gorbachev after the fall of wall of Berlin, especially eastwards.

The draft was released by the Russian Foreign Ministry which also asked NATO for the adaptation of a legal binding on non-deployment of strike weapons systems which are a threat to Russian sovereignty and territory, installed in whether NATO member states or non-NATO countries. The NATO must remove any troops or weapons deployed to countries that entered the alliance after 1997, which means that much of eastern Europe including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Balkan countries can no longer have NATO weapons or troops. Also the operative military exercises must be held at an agreed distance between Russia and NATO lines.

President Vladimir Putin told, last Friday while talking to French President Emmanuel Macron, that the US has ignored Russia’s security concerns as the US rejected  Moscow’s key demand to rule out Ukraine from joining the NATO. US and NATO agreed to talk on the placement of weapons and troops but they want the Ukraine’s decision to join NATO to be left on Ukraine without any interference by Russia.

These proposals are expected to be viewed extremely antagonistically by the NATO countries, particularly the former USSR states as they fear that Russia is seeking to re-establish its sphere of influence in the region and this proposal is a proof that Kremlin is attempting to influence its sovereignty.

US, British and the German intelligence reports have repeatedly confirmed that Russia is preparing for an invasion while it is reported that President Putin sarcastically asked its colleagues that haven’t they (western news outlets) published the date of invasion.

Despite all this Russia seems to be least threaten by the western threats of retaliation and the economic sanction as they have tested the hot water during the 2014 Crimean annexation. Allegedly, when force was used against Ukraine in Pro-Russian regions of Crimea there was no sign of real opposition from any of the NATO or western country, except a few economic sanctions were made against Russia. It should also be kept in mind that major international security challenges are tackled by realpolitik not by morality or international laws.


About Author:

Muhammad Hurrairah is a student of International Relations at National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.


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