By: Hannah Stoughton
Feb. 18th, 2022: After weeks of a deadlock between Russia and Western nations, tensions have been rising with threats of a Russian invasion into Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Russia has been a threatening force over Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). After Ukraine requested to join NATO, a United-States led organization, Russia has demanded that its neighbor, previously a Soviet state, be permanently withheld from joining NATO. Russian leaders have also requested that NATO ends all military activity in Eastern Europe, citing surveillance violations. Because of the “open door policy” implemented, saying that any European country may join, Western leaders have denied Russia’s proposal.
Since the denial of Russia’s demands, tensions have risen between NATO and Russia.
Russia has amassed 150,000 troops north, south, and east of Ukraine, according to United States president Joe Biden. Western leaders are saying that a Russian invasion could occur at any moment, and that Ukrainians and others should be prepared for it.
On Feb. 15th, rumors of an attack by Russia in the middle of the night on Feb. 16th began to spread, escalating the fears of citizens before the Russian president Vladimir Putin released a statement that he does not want to go to war.
President Biden released a statement regarding the tensions with Russia on Feb. 15th. “This weekend I spoke again with President Putin to make clear that we are ready to keep pursuing high-level diplomacy to reach written understandings among Russia, the United States, and the nations of Europe to address legitimate security concerns if that’s what — his wish. Their security concerns and ours. President Putin and I agreed that our teams should continue to engage toward this end along with our European Allies and partners,” he said.
On Feb. 17th, the Russian military announced that they will begin staging massive nuclear drills, where President Putin will oversee the drills personally. While the military continues to insist that they do not have plans to invade Ukraine, President Biden remains consistent in his warnings. Biden warns that Russia could invade Ukraine every day, and that “The United States is prepared no matter what happens.”
Leaders in the West are concerned with the timing of the drills. While Russia stages drills annually, they are typically held in the fall. This year, the drills involve the Black Sea fleet, positioned on the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Leaders are
concerned that the drills will coincide with an invasion of Ukraine, despite the Russian military saying that there is no need for concern over these drills.
While Russia is exercising drills, NATO is continuing to build its defenses. President Biden recently approved 5,000 troops to be deployed to Poland and Romania, as well as a $6 billion sale of battle tanks and related equipment to Poland. Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands have sent reinforcements to Lithuania, and the Dutch have sold combat gear to Ukrainian forces.
President Biden also released a statement that there has been more movement going towards the Russia-Ukraine border from Russians, contradicting Russia’ statement of pulling troops back.
Diplomatic measures are being taken between Western leaders, and Vice President Kamala Harris has stated that they are still open for negotiation with Russia.
Tensions are still being closely monitored with updates from foreign officials daily.
Image Credit: The Guardian