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Russian-Ukrainian Border Crisis Escalating Tensions

While the West has seen more conflicts over the situation with COVID-19 and political disagreements internally; the East, especially in Europe, has been plagued with issues far greater than the ongoing pandemic. This is felt strongest in Ukraine: a large Eastern European country that was a former Soviet-bloc state. In recent times, it seems that the Russian Federation has been setting its sights back on attacking its former territory.

The State of Ukraine, a large Eastern European country right along Russia’s border, has endured a harsh history in the world. Being a territory heavily fought over between Russia and other countries ever since the 1800’s, the people of Ukraine have earned their right to be called an enduring, steadfast people. Even when under Soviet occupation throughout the 20th century, they’ve remained unbroken and resilient in their heritage.

Ukraine is a relatively split nation among the citizens today, being a former Soviet-bloc, yet enjoying the prosperity of freedom and democracy after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine. However, the Eastern parts of Ukraine still have a portion of the population that held the Soviet Union in high regard, including some leaders in the Southern Peninsula in Ukraine called Crimea. Russia toyed with Ukraine in the past; however, Russian leaders recently decided to prey on this divide and took action. In 2014, Russia moved in to occupy the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine after a supposedly pro-Russia vote was held to see if the future of the peninsula was in Russia. The election was overwhelmingly 97%, but spectators noted unmarked gunmen at polling stations. Despite Ukraine’s denial of the vote, thousands of unmarked gunmen marched into Crimea, raised Russian flags, and stormed Ukrainian-held bases.

Today, there have been pro-Russian districts in the far east of Ukraine, gathering arms and beginning to fight for unification with Russia. Though frowned upon by the West, Russia gladly welcomed these new events and equipped the forces with weapons and supplies. In response, Western powers began arming Ukraine.

A few months ago, reconnaissance drones made note of Russian buildup along Ukraine’s borders, clocking in at about 100,000 troops, along with tanks and armored vehicles. This is far more than the 20,000 – 30,000 troops that invaded Crimea.

On January 10th US and Russian officials met in Geneva for a discussion about the crisis, in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The talks went over poorly as demands were not met on both sides. Russia did not promise the removal of the troops, and after Russia demanded Ukraine never have access to NATO membership (by extent having protection from the EU and the US in case Russia ever invaded), the United States firmly denied them.

As it stands, the East and West remain in a deadlock. The ceasefire in the East between rebel and Ukraine forces has been violated over 138 times last Monday alone, according to reports from the OSCE SMM (Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine). Neither NATO nor Russia seems to have intent on backing down. There is hope for resolution, but if it does reach a close, it will take time.

Featured image courtesy of Ministry of Defense of Ukraine via flickr.com.

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