Tensions continue to escalate at the border between Russia and Ukraine

Patrick Done, News Editor

Over the last several months, tensions between Ukraine and the Russian Federation have continued to rise. According to Satellite images, Russia has amassed over 100,000  troops across Russia’s border with Ukraine, including in the contested region of Crimea. 

Vladimir Putin, who has remained in power in Russia for over 20 years, has claimed in recent statements that these movements are purely defensive. Putin and Russian leadership have shown concern over the expansion of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into former Soviet territories in Eastern Europe. NATO is a mutual defense pact first created to counter the Communist Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union. However, in recent years, the Alliance’s primary goal has been countering Chinese and Russian aggression. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has expanded into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, and Hungary, all former Soviet puppet states.

Vladimir Putin has issued several demands to the United States and NATO, the primary demand being that Ukraine must never join NATO. The incorporation of Ukraine into NATO would permanently block Russian expansion into the nation and put almost all of Europe under the protection of The United States. NATO leaders have reiterated the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan (MAP), emphasizing Ukraine’s right to determine its own future and foreign policy. President Joe Biden has stressed that the United States would not send troops to block a Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, he has suggested that crippling sanctions would be enacted with the goal of hurting an already weak Russian economy. In a recent meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Biden also promised that Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany, would not be completed if a Russian invasion took place. 

Xi Jinping of China met with Vladimir Putin before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, reinforcing his support for whatever path Russia chooses to take. Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of the close Russian ally Belarus, has also openly supported the Russian Federations efforts in Ukraine. US estimates suggest that 50,00 civilians could be killed in a full-scale Russian invasion. It remains unclear whether or not war can be avoided.