Why Ukraine Is So Important to Russia? s
- Putin’s standoff over Ukraine boosted his popularity rating in Russia to 80%.15 To maintain this popularity, he will continue to hold onto Ukraine despite the cost.
- Putin knows that NATO won’t protect Ukraine since it is not a member, and that encourages him to continue to attack.
- Ukraine, which provided the Soviet agricultural output, had been an important contributor to the former Soviet Union’s economy.
- It also supplied heavy industrial equipment and raw materials to industrial sites throughout the former USSR.
NATO, U.S. response
- NATO chief said, ‘Russia’s considerable military build-up is unjustified, unexplained, and deeply concerning.’ NATO would continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine.
- Since Ukraine is not a NATO member how far will NATO go to take concrete actions is doubtful.
- In June 2020, NATO recognised Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, which aims to maintain and deepen cooperation between countries that have made significant contributions to the NATO-led missions and operations.
- The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also used the current tension as an opportunity to push for NATO membership, arguing that ‘this is the only way to end the war in Donbas’.
- The U.S., under the new administration, has taken a more resolute stance towards this conflict and ready to ready to support Ukraine militarily, if the need arises without provoking Russia.
- The recent visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, to Kiev indicates the U.S.’s foreign policy priorities. supporting the ‘independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine’.
Support from Turkey
- Recent visit of Ukrarian President to Turkey underlined Turkish support i.e. standing by Ukraine amidst the current tensions with Russia.
- Visit was a diplomatic success for Ukraine as it had obtained the necessary guarantees from Turkey should tensions with Russia escalate.
- It is worth recalling that Turkey has not acted in synchrony with Russia during several conflicts, e.g., in Syria, Libya, and, most recently, in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Way Forward: –
- Ukraine’s desire to open its markets to the EU and to collude with U.S. companies to develop its natural gas reserves were perceived by Russia as huge threats to its economy.2930 So, in March 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Crimea.
- Since then, relations between the United States and Russia have continued to deteriorate with the ongoing Ukraine conflict. Efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement have failed.
- In April 2016, NATO announced its deployment of battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to deter further Russian aggression especially in the Baltic region.
- The Baltic states have become NATO and EU members since 2004. Should Russia invade the Baltics, the United States and NATO would be compelled or bound by Article 5 of the NATO treaty to retaliate.
- Such could escalate into a war between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies
Critically evaluate the need for a platform that will facilitate negotiation, mutual consensus and possible compromises, as well as engagement with mediators. Discuss how the long-term solution will break the vicious cycle of animosity and misunderstanding?