People have always asked: “Is this going to start World War III?” There were many chances and close calls, but now, people seem to be more scared than ever. Since the Cold War, Russia has been seen as one of the US’s main adversaries. In fact, one of the main purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was to combat the Soviet Union, which included Ukraine. It is said that Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was the “mother of all Russian cities.” This perhaps gives you insight into the Russian connection to Ukraine, as they shared similar languages and cultures.
The most recent news between Ukraine’s borders with Belarus and Russia started in October of 2021. For context, Belarus is considered to hold Europe’s last dictator (with the possible exception of Hungary’s Victor Orban) and has been quite dependent on Russian aid. In addition, looking at a map of the area reveals that having Russian troops in Belarus would increase the number of from which directions Russia could invade Ukraine.
Indeed, Russia has begun moving troops and military equipment near the border, sparking concerns about a possible invasion. There were satellite images and social media posts, particularly from TikTok, of missiles, tanks, and other weapons moving toward Ukraine in the last two months of 2021. Russia couldn’t only put equipment near the border, so they sent more than 100,000 troops along.
Russia is spending a great deal of her time, energy, money, and resources near Ukraine. In December, a few months after the more recent advances started, the Russian foreign ministry had a list of demands for NATO, which included a ban of Ukraine entering the organization and a reduction of NATO military and equipment in eastern Europe. NATO has rejected all such demands.
As many are aware, this is not the first time Russia has made advances toward Ukraine. In fact, if they were to invade, this would not be the first time in recent history for Russia to do so. In March of 2014, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s region of Crimea, in the south of the country. Then, they formally annexed the peninsula after Crimeans voted to join the motherland, even though the local referendum was disputed. Following the physical invasion, Ukraine became the target of cyberattacks, which is known to be one of Russia’s specialties.
In response, the US took some action, which included a variety of statements. The US said that if military forces were acquiring land in Ukraine, it would consider that to be an invasion, regardless of the size of the land or troops. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, was in Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to symbolize the urgency of the crisis. Although the US will not be sending troops directly to Ukraine, it will send them to other countries in the area like Poland. President Biden has warned of sanctions against Russia from the U.S. and its allies.
The State Department has also instructed the families of U.S. diplomats in Ukraine to leave the country and authorized some embassy staff members to depart. It has also recommended regular U.S. citizens residing there to leave as soon as possible because the US will not be able to help them evacuate the country while the Russian attack is occurring.
Despite all of this increased tension, there exists ongoing diplomacy, which began on January 10th, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. Russian officials are trying to get the US and NATO to agree to its demands, but again, the countries won’t budge. Blinken even met with his Russian counterpart, Mr. Lavrov, in Geneva, where they agreed to continue discussions.
People have reason to be scared. If Russia and the US go to war, the results could be catastrophic, as both powerful countries possess nuclear weapons. Many are calling this one of the greatest security crises since the Cold War.