“We are protecting our best interest” Says Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Put simply, Vladimir Putin feels threatened by Ukraine’s ever growing allegiance to the West.
Since Ukraine left the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been a steadily growing tension.
After the end of the Soviet Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance between Europe and America, opened its doors to many countries that were part of the union – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the organisation.
In 2008, NATO stated its intention to invite Ukraine into the organisation, but the prospects were still far off from atctualising.
Tensions really started to build off in 2014 when the then Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, said to be an ally of Putin, was ousted as a result of mass protest.
In retaliation, Putin took parts of Southern Ukraine – the Crimean Peninsula, and sent soldiers to support the anti-West revolt that was taking place in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine. 13,000 people are said to have been killed to date.
A first Minsk Protocol was drawn up in 2014 with France and Germany acting as the mediators between Russia and Ukraine. The protocol was aimed at stopping the fights in Donbas, but it failed to do so.
The Minsk protocol was revised and signed by the two countries – with agreement including an immediate ceasfire, withdrawal of weapons and release of war prisoners. The fighting reduced, never completely ended.
Why is Russia fixed on Ukraine, in particular?
Like Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuuania and Estonia were all part of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). However, Russia’s fixation on Ukraine is based on belief that there is historic generational social, economic, cultural and political relations that tie them together.
Russians view Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, as the birthplace of their nation, and its language is widely spoken in the country.
One of Putin’s demands is for Ukraine never to join NATO, but as Ukraine increasingly go closer to the West, Putin fears the West are now so close of Russian border that they could have easy access to invade them in the future.
Why cant NATO get involved in the Invasion of Ukraine by Russia?
In a TV broadcast by the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was dressed down in a T-shirt, he said “this morning we are alone in defending our country just like yesterday, the most powerful forces in the world watched from afar.
“Have yesterday’s sanctions persuaded Russia? We see in our skies, and feel on the ground, that there is not enough”
President Zelenskyy’s mention of the “most powerful forces” is referencing NATO and the West. Because Ukraine is not part of NATO, the organisation’s hands are tied in terms of assisting directly, hence the decision to use sanctions against Russia.