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Russia-Ukraine Conflict

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May 19, 2021

What is the issue?

  • The recent stand-off between Russia and Ukraine has again captured headlines in the international news media.
  • The current geopolitical situation appears to be complex due to the indirect involvement of multiple stakeholders, including the US, Turkey and the NATO.

What is the current tensions on?

  • Increased tensions between Ukraine and Russia can be viewed as a continuation of the unresolved conflict of 2014.
  • Since then, the ‘illegal annexation of Crimea’ has been an issue.
  • Russia has been criticised for its involvement in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.
  • There, Russian-backed separatists have been fighting with Ukrainian troops.
  • Recently, Moscow has allegedly deployed thousands of troops as well as tanks and artillery near Ukraine’s eastern border.
  • It has also mobilised troops in the annexed Black Sea region of Crimea.
  • This has sent shock waves in Ukraine, forcing it to appeal to the U.S. and NATO for an intervention, if needed.

What is the level of support for Ukraine?

  • NATO - Dealing with Russia, a powerful and unpredictable neighbour, forces Ukraine to rely on NATO/U.S. military support.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed dissatisfaction at Russia’s present considerable military build-up.
  • He underlined that NATO would continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine.
  • The question though is how far the NATO alliance can go in its support, given that Ukraine has not yet obtained membership.
  • In June 2020, NATO recognised Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, along with Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden.
  • The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also used the current tension as an opportunity to push for NATO membership.
  • U.S. - The U.S., under Biden administration, has taken a more resolute stance towards this conflict.
  • Unlike his predecessors, U.S. President Joe Biden seems to be less apprehensive about provoking Russia.
  • He is ready to support militarily for the ‘independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine’, if need arises.
  • Turkey - Notably, Turkey also seems to stand by Ukraine amidst the current tensions with Russia.
  • Notably, Turkey has not acted in synchrony with Russia during several conflicts, e.g., in Syria, Libya, and, most recently, in Nagorno-Karabakh.

What is a key concern in the conflict?

  • The cornerstone of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is insufficient communication.
  • This applies especially on the part of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
  • Russia’s tactical decisions towards Ukraine comes with many unanswered questions.
  • This creates room for misinterpretations and exaggerations on the part of Ukraine and its western supporters.

What is Russia’s possible rationale?

  • From the Russian perspective, the current ‘military build-up’ can be viewed as another round of display of a powerful and capable Russia.
  • Russian President Vladmir Putin possesses enough diplomatic (and pragmatic) skills not to indulge in yet another geopolitical endeavour.
  • As, this might entail serious repercussions from the international community.

What is the way forward?

  • Both countries do need support from the global community, but not in a military form.
  • All the stakeholders in the ongoing crisis should focus on establishing a constructive dialogue among themselves.
  • The only way forward is to seek a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • There is thus a need for a platform (similarly to the Minsk Agreements).
  • This should facilitate negotiation, mutual consensus and possible compromises, as well as engagement with mediators.


Source: The Hindu

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