Ukraine, the former Soviet satellite, is in ferment again. Central to the raging tension is the separatist conflict, one that has roiled the region for as long as it has. Indeed, the Kremlin has now expressed concern over a possible escalation of fighting. At another remove, the United States of America has advanced a stern warning to Russia to stay away from Ukraine.
Of particular concern is the Russian troop build-up, causing fears that it could ignite an invasion. While Moscow has let it be known that it has no such design, it has accused Ukraine and its Western supporters of making up claims to cover up their own potentially aggressive designs. In course of Thursday’s meeting in Stockholm, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is said to have told the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that “if Russia decides
to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences”, underlining the truism in international relations that the “best way to avert a crisis is through
The Kremlin authorities have countered the West’s perception, saying that Ukraine has been engaged in a “tug-of-war” after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 following the ouster of the country’s pro-Kremlin President. Nay more, Moscow backed a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s industrial heartland, called Donbas. More than 14,000 people are believed to have perished in the fighting.
Into this phase of deepening tension steps in Vladimir Putin. The Russian President has warned Nato against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine or what it calls a “red line for Russia”. It is generally feared that this would trigger a strong response. Moscow will seek Western guarantees to preclude further Nato expansion and deployment of its weapons near the periphery of Russia’s borders.
Blinken has echoed “deep concern” over Russia’s plans for renewed aggression against Ukraine. “It’s a concern that is shared by many in Europe”. Speaking against the backdrop of a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Blinken underlined that the US has a “strong, ironclad commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Foreign minister Lavrov accused the West of “playing with fire” by arguing that “Russia doesn’t have a say in Nato’s expansion plans. The probability of hostilities in Ukraine still remains very high.” Reports suggest that Ukraine, according to its foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, is working with the United States on developing a comprehensive deterrence package, including crippling economic sanctions, to demotivate Russia from further aggressive moves.
President Putin has warned Nato against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine, couched with the warning that it could trigger a strong response. Both sides appear to be gearing up for battle. It is fervently to be hoped that both Russia and the United States of America will hold their fire