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Russia Ukraine Conflict escalates – United Kingdom to send WARSHIP to Black Sea

Russia Ukraine Conflict escalates – United Kingdom to send WARSHIP to Black Sea

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & Rest of the World || Russia

Why in the news?

The Russia-Ukraine border crisis that started in 2014 has come to the global agenda after four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the Donbas region by Russian forces

Russia Ukraine Conflict: Background

  • Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest country in Europe, after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east.
  • Ukraine also shares borders with Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the south; and has a coastline along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
  • Ukraine was also formerly a State with the USSR before its disintegration in 1993. Critical industrial and defence manufacturing capacities of the USSR were located in Ukraine.
  • In the 2000s, Russia fell out with Ukraine after the former Soviet state started approaching the European Union.
  • Pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, the fourth president of Ukraine, announced that he suspended the EU Association Agreement in 2013 to prevent the country from turning to the West. This move marked the beginning of a deep crisis in Ukrainian history.
  • Thousands of people gathered in the Independence Square of Kyiv for months in protest against Yanukovych’s decision. Clashes took place between protesters from time to time, with pro-Russians also taking to the streets.
  • Yanukovich had to flee to Russia as the protests went out of control. As Ukraine is geographically divided between Europe and Russia, so are the people of Ukraine divided into two poles, as pro-Russian and pro-Western.
  • The tension later spread to Crimea and Donbas. The Crimean Parliament decided to hold a referendum that would allow the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
  • Crimea was annexed by Russia following the controversial referendum on March 16, 2014, despite Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians’ objections.
  • Pro-Russian separatists also claim control over eastern Ukraine, including the Donbas region, which they illegally controlled over the past seven years.

Minsk Agreements:

  • Minsk Agreements were signed in 2014 and 2015 to stop the ongoing conflict between the pro-Russian separatists and the Kyiv administration in the region.
  • The agreements included a cease-fire in the region, prisoner exchange while also allowing the Kyiv administration to make a constitutional amendment that would give Donbas special status.
  • The pro-Russian separatists, on the other hand, were supposed to withdraw their weapons in the Ukraine-Russia border.

Reasons:

  • In the Paris Summit, all parties had agreed on a cease-fire decision starting from July 27, 2020, which was maintained until 2021.
  • However, this year, the Russian army’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border has once again escalated the conflicts in the Donbas region.
  • The killing of four Ukrainian soldiers by the pro-Russian separatists on March 26 triggered the crisis.
  • Ukrainian Chief of General Staff k pointed to the increasing number of Russian troops in the north and east sides of Ukraine’s border and Crimea.
  • In response, the Kremlin said Russia was moving its armed forces within its own territory, which should not disturb anyone.
  • However, the Russian military officials also warned that Russian forces could act to “defend” Russian citizens in Ukraine, and any escalation of the conflict would mean “the beginning of the end of Ukraine” – “not a shot in the leg, but in the face.
  • At the time some half a million people in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic had been issued with Russian passports since fighting broke out in 2014.

International response:

  • The EU and the US reacted against Russia’s deployment of troops to Ukraine’s border while also supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Western governments and NATO accused Russia of sending regular troops over the border into Ukraine, but Russia maintains any Russian fighters there are “volunteers”
  • At present Ukraine is no member of NATO and it has been requesting the organisation for speeding up its membership process.
  • Nordic Countries have brought in a declaration asserting that the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea is a violation of international law and other international treaties.

Concerns:

  • Deteriorating US-Russia relations: The conflict in Ukraine risks further deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations and greater escalation if Russia expands its presence in Ukraine or into NATO countries.
  • Threat to peace in Eastern Europe: Russia’s actions have raised wider concerns about its intentions elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and a Russian incursion into a NATO country would solicit a response from the United States as a NATO ally.
  • Lack of international cooperation: The conflict has heightened tensions in Russia’s relations with both the United States and Europe, complicating the prospects for cooperation elsewhere including on issues of terrorism, arms control, and a political solution in Syria.
  • The toothless United Nations (UN): The increasing belligerence between the US and the Russia on Ukraine issues has once again exposed the uselessness of the UNO. There is an urgent need to reform the international organisation and give them enough powers to act as actual guardians of world peace.

Way ahead:

  • Both blocs need to honestly observe the bilateral and multilateral agreements that also call for ceasefire in the region
  • The US and its European allies should not be in a rush to give NATO membership to Ukraine as it would further fuel the distrust on part of Russia.
  • The United Nations must intervene to resolve the issue amicably with taking concerns of each party into account.
  • In the long-run, the important international organisations such as UNO, IMF, World Bank, WTO etc. must be reform and should be strengthened in such a manner that they could discharge their duties efficiently.

Model Mains Question:

  1. Trace the Ukraine-Russia conflict from the beginning. What are the concerns associated with the growing belligerence between Russia and the US allies in the Eastern Europe? Explain.