Russia-Ukraine Conflict

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    • Recently, a report stated that the tension on the Russia-Ukraine border represents a major security crisis for the region.

    About

    • The crisis has the potential to convert into a broader conflict. 
    • Ukraine says that Russia has amassed around 90,000 troops at the border, and US intelligence reports say that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is possible as early as next month.

     

    Image Courtesy: Economist, BBC  

     

    Cause of Conflict

    • Shared history: 
      • Ukraine and Russia share hundreds of years of cultural, linguistic and familial links. 
      • As part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the second-most powerful Soviet republic after Russia, and was crucial strategically, economically and culturally. 
    • Emotional Exploitation of People:
      • For many in Russia and in the ethically Russian parts of Ukraine, the shared heritage of the countries is an emotional issue that has been exploited for electoral and military purposes.
    • Balance of Power: 
      • Ever since Ukraine split from the Soviet Union, both Russia and the West have vied for greater influence in the country in order to keep the balance of power in the region in their favour.
    • Acts as a buffer: 
      • For the United States and the European Union, Ukraine is a crucial buffer between Russia and the West. 
      • As tensions with Russia rise, the US and the EU are increasingly determined to keep Ukraine away from Russian control.

    Euromaidan Movement

    • Origin: 
      • November 2013 saw the start of mass protests across Ukraine, but particularly in Kiev’s Maidan, or central square. 
    • Protest: 
      • Protesters were angry at Ukraine’s then pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to join the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union instead of the EU. 
      • The protests, known as the Euromaidan movement, saw massive clashes between the protesters and security forces that reached their peak in February 2014 and led to the ouster of Yanukovych.
    • Russia’s reaction:
      • Attacking Ukraine and annexing Crimea: 
        • Amid fears of growing Western influence in Ukraine, Russia decided to take action by invading Crimea, which was a part of Ukraine. 
        • It also began fomenting a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine, which is home to many who are ethnically Russian.
      • Result of this annexation:
        • The invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea have given Russia a maritime upper hand in the region. 
        • It also gave Russia’s President a significant boost in popularity ratings inside Russia. 
      • Criticism received globally:
        • It was widely condemned by world powers and resulted in the US and EU imposing sanctions on Moscow. 
        • It also resulted in a strengthened commitment by both the US and the EU to protect the integrity of Ukraine’s borders.

    Current Situation

    • Russia is seeking assurances from the US that Ukraine will not be inducted into NATO. However, the US is not prepared to give any such assurance.
    • This has left the countries in a stand-off, with tens of thousands of Russian troops ready to invade Ukraine.
    • Russia is keeping the tensions high at the Ukraine border in order to get sanctions relief and other concessions from the West.
    • Any kind of military action by the US or EU against Russia would precipitate a major crisis for the whole world, and has so far not been mooted by any of the parties involved.

    India’s Stand

    • During a UNSC meeting in May 2021, India signalled its backing for traditional partner Russia on the Ukraine issue.
    • India has advocated political and diplomatic solutions that protect the legitimate interests of all countries in the region and ensure long term peace and stability in Europe and beyond. The path forward can only be through peaceful dialogue for a lasting solution acceptable to all concerned.
    • Last November India voted against a Ukraine-sponsored resolution in the UN that condemned alleged human rights violations in Crimea thereby backing old ally Russia on the issue.

    Concerns

    • Efforts to induct Ukraine into NATO have been ongoing for many years and seem to have picked up pace recently. Russia has declared such a move a “red line”, with Moscow worried about the consequences of the US-led military alliances expanding right up to its doorstep.
    • It is not easy to know about the intentions of Russia and stop it from pursuing those.
    • Putting sanctions on Russia may not be enough to deter her.
    • A major blockage has been Russia’s insistence that it is not a party to the conflict and therefore is not bound by its terms mentioned in the Minsk 2 Agreement.

    Way Ahead

    • International cooperation is needed to solve the ever-increasing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
    • Both the countries should restrain from any move leading to escalation of the tension.

    Minsk Agreements

    • MINSK I:
      • Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed on a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014. 
      • Its provisions included: 
        • prisoner exchanges, 
        • deliveries of humanitarian aid and 
        • the withdrawal of heavy weapons
      • The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
    • MINSK II:
      • Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions signed a 13-point agreement in February 2015 in Minsk. 
      • The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine gathered there at the same time and issued a declaration of support for the deal.
      • The 13 points were, in brief:
        • An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire
        • Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides
        • Monitoring and verification by the OSCE
        • To start a dialogue on interim self-government for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in accordance with Ukrainian law, and acknowledge their special status by a resolution of parliament.
        • A pardon and amnesty for people involved in the fighting
        • An exchange of hostages and prisoners.
        • Provision of humanitarian assistance.
        • Resumption of socio-economic ties, including pensions.
        • Restore full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine.
        • Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries.
        • Constitutional reform in Ukraine including decentralisation, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk.
        • Elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on terms to be agreed with their representatives.
        • Intensify the work of a Trilateral Contact Group including representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE.

    North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

    • It is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 countries across the world.
    • Established in: 1949
    • Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
    • India is not a member country of NATO.

    Source: IE