Understanding Ukraine-Russia Crisis – UPSC GS2

Context : Russia has mobilised around 1,00,000 troops on its border with Ukraine.

Enlargement of NATO:
  • NATO is a military alliance of twenty-eight European and two North American countries that constitutes a system of collective defense.
  • Enlargement of NATO is the process of including new member states in NATO.
  • Since the German unification in 1990, NATO has added new members five times.
    • The alliance had 12 founding members in 1949, which currently has 30 members,
    • Members include three Baltic countries of EstoniaLatvia and Lithuania that share borders with Russia.
    • Members also include HungaryPolandRomania and Bulgaria, all of them being a part of the former Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
Russia’s demands:
  • Russia has demanded a ban on further expansion of NATO that includes countries like Ukraine and Georgia that share Russia’s borders.
  • Russia asked NATO to pull back its military deployments to the 1990s level and prohibit the deployment of intermediate range missiles in the bordering areas.
  • Further, Russia asked NATO to curb its military cooperation with Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.
  • Russia not just wants to prevent NATO’s future expansion but also its retrieval from Russia’s rim land.
  • Russia has also asked for a written response by the U.S. to its proposals regarding security guarantees and official commitments for non-expansion of NATO eastwards.
Response from the U.S.:
  • The U.S. has given a written response to the Kremlin, which hasn’t been released.
  • The public remarks by top officials suggest that the U.S. has taken a mixed stand of diplomacy and economic deterrence.
  • The U.S. has ruled out changing NATO’s “open door policy” that means, NATO would continue to induct more members.
  • The U.S. also says it would continue to offer training and weapons to Ukraine.
  • The U.S. is said to be open for a discussion regarding missile deployment and a mutual reduction in military exercises in Eastern Europe.
  • The U.S. has ruled out sending troops to Ukraine or other military measures against Russia in the event of an invasion. However, it has threatened to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia in case of any military move.
Options for Russia:
  • Russia says it won’t attack Ukraine, but since the annexation of Crimea, the situation continues to remain tense.
  • Russia is backing separatists in the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk republics (Donbas) in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russia could annex Donbas and launch incursions, capturing more territories along the Sea of Azov, establishing a land bridge from its border to Crimea.
  • Russia could provide further military assistance to the rebels in Donbas to push the frontline further into Ukraine without triggering a major international response.
  • Moscow has mobilised troops on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and northern border with Belarus, southern border with Crimea and south-western border with Transnistria.
  • In case of invasion, Russian troops could make swift moves into Ukraine from three sides.
  • The other option is to de-escalate, claiming a diplomatic victory which would be based on guarantees from the West.
India’s stand:
  • India called for “a peaceful resolution of the situation through sustained diplomatic efforts for long-term peace and stability in the region and beyond”.
  • This was India’s stand even during the Crimean crisis.
  • The decisions taken after the annexation of Crimea offer insights into the minds of policy-makers in India on Ukraine,
  • Immediately after the annexation, India abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that sought to condemn Russia.
  • In 2014, Putin praised India’s “restraint and objectivity”.
  • In 2020, India voted against a Ukraine-sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly that sought to condemn alleged human rights violations in Crimea.
  • India’s position is largely rooted in neutrality and has adapted itself to the post-2014 status quo on Ukraine.

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