/Russia and Ukraine – Burning Issues

Russia and Ukraine – Burning Issues

All week, news about Russia and Ukraine is buzzing around. As we all are aware that Russia has invaded Ukraine. Putin has launched a multifrontal attack on Ukraine and has become the “New Hitler”. Vladimir Putin has also raised threats of nuclear war as Russia holds the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. But what is his game plan? And what are the relations to his current actions with history? In the ’90s Russia and Ukraine were both soviet republics. Russia was the most dominant out of the 15 republics and Ukraine was the second most powerful. Ukraine and the United States were arch-rivals at that time. Then in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Ukraine and Russia became independent. Ukraine possessed the nuclear arsenal though, it had to give it to Russia in 1994. Due to this trade, Moscow provided Ukraine security and promised to respect its sovereignty and signed the Budapest agreement. In 2013, the president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych did not sign the EU trade deal which could have resulted in integration with the European Union. However, he instead accepted a 15-billion-dollar bailout from Russia. Some people believed that now they were going to have a connection with Moscow so there were several protests. These protests were known as Euromaidan. They took place in the Independence square and protesters chanted ‘Sign the EU deal’. But Russia was in favour of the president. In February 2014 the president’s governance collapsed and he fled to Russia.

Then, Moscow’s next move was to annex Crimea. Crimea is a peninsula that is located in the black sea. Then, in 1984, Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. He believed that this could help in making the connection between the two countries stronger. Ukraine was independent in 1991 and Crimea joined the same though Crimea was a Russian military base. In 2014 when Yanukovych was thrown out, the Russian military detained government buildings in Crimea. On 16th March 2014, Crimeans voted to become a part of Russia for the president of Russia. This meant Crimea’s liberation but for others, it didn’t. In eastern Ukraine, Russia had separatists that held territory. On 17th July in 2014, a flight with 298 passengers was shot by the rebels. The Russian army invaded eastern Ukraine and was fighting along with the rebels.The Minsk agreement was signed in 2014. Through this agreement, the countries agreed on ceasefire and military withdrawal. Ukraine also agreed on elections in the areas that were helped by the rebels. After eight years Ukraine was at war with the rebels in the east and the leaders were ruling the republic of Donetsk and Luhansk also known as the Donbas region.

Now, Russia is at war with Ukraine. There are several reasons for this war, some of which are a prominent part of history. So, what does Vladimir Putin want from Ukraine? Vladimir Putin wants NATO to stop expanding and not include former Soviet states such as Ukraine. During the time Putin annexed Crimea, he did so with the intention of making Russia seem powerful. However, several Russians believe that Ukraine’s independence wasn’t meant to be. Putin also believes that Ukraine and Russia were historically one. Though, it is wrong of Russia to claim Ukraine due to its colonial history. He is clinging to history and letting it interfere with his current decisions.

Well, what has any of this got to do with the past? As we may know in 1700 Ukraine was forcefully Russified and the language Russian was taught in most of the schools. In 1800, the Ukrainian language was also banned. Most of eastern Ukraine’s population speaks Russian today. This is due to the fact that it is beloved by Russia because of its natural resources. So, that is the main reason for this war. However, two unanswered questions remain, what are Putin’s intentions? Are we heading to World War III?

Written by Sarannya Nanda (MYP 4B)