When did the crisis begin?
Considering the recent history, the current crisis started in 2014. But to get to the root of the crisis, we have to look back to the Soviet era. Ukraine was then part of the Soviet Union.
Two political currents prevail in Ukraine. A trend wants to be closer to Western Europe. They are interested in joining the European Union (EU) as well as being a member of the Western military alliance NATO. The other section is pro-Russian. They want to stay in Russia.
A large part of Ukraine’s population is Russian-speaking. They are also ethnically Russian. They have close cultural and social ties with Russia.
Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 in the face of protests. He fled the country.
Yanukovych wanted a major trade deal with the EU. Then Putin increased the pressure. Under pressure, Yanukovych withdrew from trade talks with the EU. As a result, mass protests against him began in Ukraine.
Those who came to power in Ukraine after Yanukovych are known as pro-EU. Putin was outraged by their actions.
After the fall of Yanukovych, Russia occupied the Crimea region of eastern Ukraine.
Why occupy Crimea
Crimea has been part of Russia for almost 200 years. In 1954, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ceded Crimea to the then Soviet Republic of Ukraine. At the time, the Russian leadership did not think that the Soviet Union would collapse.
Crimea has a lot of geopolitical importance. Crimea is strategically important to Russia. So Russia took the opportunity to occupy Crimea from Ukraine.
What Russia demands
Ukraine is not a member of the Western military alliance NATO. But the country wants to be a member of NATO. Russia refuses to comply. That is why Russia wants assurances from the West that Ukraine will never be a member of NATO.
At the request of Russia, the Western countries are not willing to give any assurance in this regard.
Putin believes that the West, which surrounds Russia, is using NATO. Ukraine may also be taken into NATO for this purpose. That is why he opposes the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe.
Russia alleges that by the end of the last century, the United States had promised NATO that it would not expand eastward. But this promise was not kept.
The United States has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s intelligence have been made more than once.
NATO, on the other hand, says it is a defensive military alliance. Every country has the right to choose the path of defense.
Why Russia is worried
The Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990’s. Putin sees the breakup as a geopolitical catastrophe for Russia. Since then, Russia has seen the military alliance, NATO, slowly encircle them. For good reason, Russia is concerned about its security.
In 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia joined in 2004. Albania joined in 2009.
Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine also have aspirations to join NATO. But because of Russia, it has not happened yet. However, there are pro-Russian rebels in these three countries. If any of these countries join NATO, it will be difficult for Russia to accept.
Why Russia’s gas is a big issue
Russia’s biggest weapon, apart from its weapons, is its fuel. Russia accounts for 25 percent of Europe’s total oil and gas supplies.
Ukraine is Russia’s gateway to gas supplies to Europe. Major gas pipelines from Russia to various European countries pass through Ukraine.
As a result, if Ukraine moves out of Russia’s sphere of influence, Russia could lose its monopoly on gas supplies.
Is NATO united?
President Biden says Western leaders are united on the Ukraine question. However, there are differences in the support of different countries regarding Ukraine.
The United States has sent deadly military equipment to Ukraine. The United Kingdom is providing small-scale anti-tank missiles.
NATO countries like Denmark, Spain, France, Netherlands have strengthened their defenses in Eastern Europe.
However, despite the request of Ukraine, Germany refused to provide any weapons to the country.
French President Emmanuel Macho has been seen working hard to defuse tensions.
Recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk
Amid tensions with the West over the deployment of tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, President Putin on February 21 recognized Donetsk and Luhansk, two areas of the country’s pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory, as independent states. At the same time, he instructed Russian troops to serve as “peacekeepers” in the two “republics.”
Following Putin’s move, Westerners say Russia has launched a military offensive in Ukraine. Now is the time to start a full-scale war in Ukraine.
Sanctions against Russia
Putin’s move on February 21 prompted a series of sanctions against Russia.
In addition to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan, the European Union, an alliance of 28 European countries, has already announced sanctions. Russia has threatened to increase sanctions if it takes an aggressive stance.
The United Kingdom has imposed sanctions on five Russian banks and three Putin-linked tycoons. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said: “This is the first step. More sanctions are ready.
US President Joe Biden has announced sanctions against two Russian banks and five millionaires. He says a step-by-step embargo against Moscow will be imposed to start military aggression in Ukraine. This is the first step.
Russia’s 26 individuals and organizations are subject to EU sanctions. 351 MPOs of the country have come under the ban. Russia’s funds in EU banks will be frozen.
Germany has suspended the ongoing Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to import gas from Russia.
Canada and Japan have also imposed sanctions on Russia.
A 30-day state of emergency was declared in Ukraine on the night of February 23 amid fears of Russian military action. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said the state of emergency would continue throughout the country, except for Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukraine has joined forces with its reserve forces to prevent Russian aggression. More than a million Ukrainian troops are said to be ready for the war. Citizens of Ukraine have also been told to be ready for war. As part of this, Ukrainian citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 have been instructed to maintain regular contact with the army.
In a speech on the night of February 23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed concern that a Russian invasion of his country could trigger a major war on the European continent.
Moscow has been embroiled in a series of tensions with the West over the deployment of hundreds of thousands of Russian troops on the eastern Ukrainian border. Westerners, including the United States, have said Russia is planning an attack on Ukraine. This attack could start at any time. Russia, however, has said Moscow has no plans to attack Ukraine. Troops have been mobilized on the Ukrainian border as part of a military exercise. In the end, that fear came true.
In a televised speech on the morning of February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a special military operation in the separatist-controlled Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Announcing the start of the military operation, Putin called on Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine to lay down their arms and return home.