The possibility of war erupting if Russian troops invade neighboring Ukraine, has occupied news coverage, political debate and shuttle diplomacy for nearly one year.
In the Spring of 2021, Russian troops and military equipment began arriving at the border of the two nations. Ukraine responded by urging quicker action on its application to join NATO. A move that Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly opposed.
The military buildup prompted speculation and warnings that Russian was preparing to invade Ukraine–reviving memories of similar aggression in 2014.
Although President Joe Biden renewed the U.S. commitment to an independent Ukraine, he did not publicly back its NATO application.
In late summer, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared the defense organization’s backing of Ukraine, which he described as a “valued partner” although not a NATO member. Two months later Stoltenberg raised fears of a worsening situation that might require a NATO response.
The crisis expanded in December when China President Xi Jinping voiced support for Russia’s opposition to possible NATO eastward expansion.
The new year arrived with an unsettled situation that saw shuttle diplomacy by British, French and German leaders to defuse the crisis but a more ominous military build up by Russia.
The Cold War between the East and West following the end of World War II ended with the collapse of the former Soviet Empire beginning in 1989 and culminating when its Eastern European satellite nations were granted independence in 1991.
Vladimir Putin longs for the days of Russia’s former greatness on the world stage.
Russia’s successful annexation of Crimea in 2014 and current saber rattling along the Ukraine border are Putin’s efforts to expand his country’s international influence and respect.
Despite verbal condemnation by several nations and limited sanctions against Russia—especially from the United States, —Putin interpreted these reactions as the impotent response of a weakened Western alliance.
His subsequent efforts to extend Moscow’s influence in Eurasia have shown success. Whether Russia does invade Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has already achieved one objective—his Czarist Dreams of Russia as a renewed world power to be reckoned with alongside China and the United States.