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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Putin Attacks Ukraine – Is World Near Full-Blown Military Conflict

A great scholar referring to the First World War said “This is a war to end all wars.” No wonder therefore, the human history is tainted by wars and conflicts precisely because war is considered inevitable. Indeed, we have seen two great World Wars.

The world is once again on the verge of another war in the 21st century on the European soil due to the ongoing military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine started on February 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Soon after, Russian forces unleashed missile attacks on Ukraine’s major cities including the Capital city Kyiv, and Kharkov. Russian invasion of Ukraine occurred from Russian borders with Belarus, Crimea, and the Black Sea. Around 200,000 Russian troops have laid siege near the border of Ukraine. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion of Ukraine, “special military operation”. Although tensions between the two countries have a long history, the current development came on the heels of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s explicit overtures to the US President Joe Biden in January to join the western military bloc North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Predictably, this did not go down well with Russia thus leading Russian President to order deployment of troops near Ukraine border. It is worth-noting that prior to the invasion, the presidents of Russia and the US  held meetings to reach an agreement on the issue but it failed to avert the crisis. Germany and France also tried their best to resolve the crisis through diplomacy but their efforts bore no fruits.  

Historical Background

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union before its disintegration in 1991.  At the time Ukraine was the third largest state in terms of atomic arsenal state in the world.  The global drive to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons coupled with US and Russian security assurances, Ukraine gave up hundreds of its nuclear warheads and returned them to Russia. In terms of geography, Ukraine is one of the largest country by size in Europe. After its independence Ukraine was not as strong politically and economically. In 2008 at the Bucharest Summit Ukraine was officially welcomed by NATO members to join NATO and European Union. Since then tensions have come to characterize relations between Russia and Ukraine. After that in 2013 internal crisis started in Ukraine when Russian backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal that led to protests against the President allegedly supported by the US and its European allies. Then in February 2014 anti-government protests toppled Pro-Russian backed government in Ukraine and in the same year Russia annexed Crimea.

Sanctions on Russia

Given its non-NATO member status, the US and its European allies could not provide military support to Ukraine against Russian aggression but they are helping Ukraine by giving considerable support in terms of military equipment. In addition, they have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in a bid to isolate it from the rest of the world. Although, most of the European countries are dependent on Russia for crude oil gas, yet after the Ukraine invasion they did not shied away from downgrading diplomatic ties and suspending trade with Russia. The gas pipeline agreement between Russia and Germany was also called off. Furthermore, Canada, Austria, Japan and other countries have imposed trade and other sanctions on Russia in an attempt to prevent Russian aggression against Ukraine, demanding that Russia must immediately put an end to the invasion of Ukraine and resolve the crisis though diplomacy. So far plenty of sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the U.S. and its key allies. Russian Central Bank and its largest financial institutions have been targeted. Biden said “We will limit Russia’s ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds, and yen to be part of the global economy; we’re going to stop the ability to finance and grow the Russian military. We’re going to impair their ability to compete in a high-tech 21st-century economy.”

Impact of war on Europe and Russia

We know that in war, there is only loss and never profit. Thus, in a war neither side gains anything except loss on both sides. So if we look at the history, we know that whenever there is war, there are losses. Europe, which has always been the epicenter of bloody battles, fought in the name of religions, on economic and political causes, in the event of a major catastrophe. In addition, two great wars in the world took place in Europe, which led to a great catastrophe. Once again Europe is on the brink of war because of current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There are significant losses, and the consequences of this current war will not only be limited to Europe but will be felt all over the world. And secondly, the current Russia-Ukraine tensions are taking place in the European region, and the most dangerous consequences will be for the European countries, and those countries will have to bear the brunt because some European countries depend on Russian gas and crude oil. Crisis may rise in the next few days, which will make European economic conditions worse. In addition, millions of people are taking refuge in Ukraine from other countries due to the war in Ukraine which can lead to many new problems in the future because nobody knows for sure when the war will end. Indeed, Russia will also suffer the consequences its economy is depend on oil and gas. One can only hope that sanity prevails and the ongoing conflicts around the global are addressed through dialogue and negotiations rather than war and military might.

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