On 24th February 2022, Russian military forces launched a devastating attack on Ukraine by air, land, and sea. For months, President Vladimir Putin had denied the possibility of Russia invading its neighbour, but then he tore up a peace deal, sending forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east, and south.
As the number of dead climbs, he stands accused of shattering the peace in Europe. What happens next could jeopardise the continent’s entire security structure.
But why have Russian troops attacked?
Russian troops are advancing on Ukraine’s capital from several directions after Russia’s leader ordered the invasion. In a pre-dawn TV address on 24 February, he declared Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist” because of what he claimed was a constant threat from “Modern Ukraine”. This whole fiasco has taken place because Ukraine’s government wanted to apply for membership of the European Union in 2024 and to eventually join the NATO alliance, something which Russia has been against. Let’s understand what is NATO, and what is its significance to both the countries involved.
What is NATO?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is a political alliance made of 30 countries from Europe and North America. This alliance came together after WWII in 1949. In short, the goal of NATO was to deter Soviet expansionism through a strong North American appearance with Europe, and encouraging political integration between European countries.
According to the NATO website, “NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means”. Also, under this agreement, member countries are permitted to use whatever means necessary to ensure security for other NATO members. This can include the use of armed force.
Now, the main thing is that Russia and Ukraine are not members of NATO. Russia is resistant to Ukraine joining NATO because under article 5, set by NATO, ‘an attack on one NATO country is considered an attack on them all.’ Last year, President Putin composed a long piece depicting Russians and Ukrainians as “one country”, and he has portrayed the breakdown of the Soviet Union in December 1991 as the “deterioration of verifiable Russia”. He has asserted current Ukraine was completely made by socialist Russia and is presently a manikin state, constrained by the West. President Putin has likewise contended that assuming Ukraine joined NATO, the collusion could attempt to recover ‘Crimea’, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
President Putin partly blamed his decision of war as an attack on NATO. Ukraine is looking for an unmistakable timetable to join NATO and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov clarified: “For us, it’s totally obligatory to guarantee Ukraine never at any point turns into an individual from NATO.”
Vladimir Putin said, “Let’s imagine Ukraine is a NATO member and starts these military operations. Are we supposed to go to war with the NATO bloc? Has anyone given that any thought? Apparently not.”
Yet, Russia isn’t simply centered around Ukraine. It requests that NATO return to its pre-1997 lines. Mr. Putin needs NATO to eliminate its powers and military framework from part expresses that joined the coalition in 1997 and not to convey “strike weapons close to Russia’s boundaries”. That implies Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Baltics.
In President Putin’s eyes, the West guaranteed back in 1990 that NATO would grow “not an inch toward the east”, but rather did as such in any case.
That was before the breakdown of the Soviet Union, in any case, so the guarantee made to then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev simply alluded to East Germany with regards to a reunified Germany. Mr. Gorbachev said later “the subject of NATO development was rarely talked about” at that point’s eastward expansion. He earlier complained Russia had “nowhere further to retreat to – do they think we’ll just sit idly by?”
By Bhavesh Rohra