An Update on Ukraine

Tensions are high for yet another month at the Ukraine border, as the Associated Press reports that at least 150,000 troops are surrounding the country on three sides. It is believed they are ready to invade at any moment.

On Feb. 20, the Associated Press reported that Russia had rescinded earlier pledges to pull tens of thousands of its troops back from Ukraine’s northern border. A move that U.S. leaders said put Russia another step closer to a planned invasion.

“Vladimir Putin is one who wants to bring back what he sees as the glory of the Soviet Union,” said Dr. Gary Rose, chairman of the department of government at Sacred Heart. “He wants to really restore the might and power again by land expansion, bringing some of the now independent, former Soviet Union republics back into the fold under his leadership.” 

“Ukraine is a target for him, and he’s already made one advance by taking Crimea several years ago,” said Rose. “He has his sight set on more of the country, but it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen, if the invasion is intended to take a portion or the entire country.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, called for a meeting with Vladimir Putin in an attempt to seek a resolution.

“I don’t know what the president of the Russian Federation wants, so I am proposing a meeting,” said Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference, according to the Associated Press. “Ukraine will continue to follow only the diplomatic path for the sake of a peaceful settlement.”

There was no response from the Russian government, further supporting the widespread belief that Putin is not justified.

“I think Russia does fear the Western powers, and they do fear Ukraine becoming part of that,” said Rose. “Russia will have very little consequence as far as their own security if Ukraine joins NATO, despite what Putin is suggesting.”

“NATO is a defensive organization formed specifically for defensive purposes,” he said. “It may minimize Russia’s influence in that region, but I don’t see adding another NATO country being in anyway detrimental to their economic or political interests.”

“Putin is trying to lead to cracks in the NATO alliance,” said Dr. Isil Akbulut-Gok, assistant professor in the department of government. “Some members are saying that they should support Ukraine by sending military equipment, but some do not want to join like Germany, who blocks military action against Russia.”

The Associated Press reported  a surge of shelling tore through the walls of a kindergarten injuring two and disrupting basic communications. Both sides accused each other of opening fire.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres told the Munich Security Conference that a small mistake or miscommunication between major powers could have catastrophic consequences.

“If Russia does invade Ukraine, they’re going to be absolutely immersed in a guerrilla war and the Ukrainian people are prepared to fight right to the end, they have the equipment to do so and the spirit as well,” said Rose.

While most NATO countries are supplying Ukraine with weapons and the U.S. has troops on the ground in neighboring Poland, most believe that the west should attempt more to deter Russia if an invasion occurs.

“The United States should have a forceful response to Russian invasion,” said Senior Ryan Silverstein, President of the model United Nations club. “Obvious avenues are sanctions on the oligarchs that control Russia.”

Biden reiterated his threat of massive economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia if it does invade, and pressed Putin to rethink his course of action. Biden said the U.S. and its western allies were more united than ever to ensure Russia pays a price for the invasion, the Associated Press reported.

“Economic sanctions work fairly well when countries are isolated,” said Rose. “When they have other connections to get resources, as Russia does with China, then you have to wonder about the long-term real effect of those sanctions.” 

Despite Russia denying plans to invade Ukraine, the threat of invasion at any moment looms, leaving the Ukrainian people, along with the rest of the world, on edge.

“We’re talking about the potential for war in Europe. I mean, let’s really take a moment to understand the significance of what we’re talking about,” said Vice President Kamala Harris to the Associated Press.

“Europe might be at its most perilous moment since the end of World War II,” said Harris. “It’s been over 70 years, and through those 70 years there has been peace and security. We are talking about the real possibility of war in Europe.”

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