Almost nobody has recently heard about the Russian-Ukrainian border situation anymore. The media forgot about it and the public opinion stopped thinking of what is going on. Nevertheless, many people are still dying in those countries because of quick armed clashes or landmines.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine started in 2014, when the Moscow Army occupied Crimea, a part of the Ukrainian nation, where most of the citizens speak Russian, and thanks to the growing impatience of the pro Russian protester and the anti-government groups based in the cities of Lugansk and Doneck, which are situated on the oriental border.
Demonstrations started after the settlement of a pro-western and pro-europe government in Kiev. This represented a problem to Russia, who was aiming for an annexation of Ukraine in order to establish an Eurasian power.
Due to the insurrections the Ukrainian government was forced to launch a military counter-offensive that leaded to the war of Donbass. Since then, the conflict caused the death of more than 14,000 people, most of them civilians who were living in the front area. The two rebel cities established two independent republics and the civil war caused the entire country to fall in a deep internal and international political crisis.
On September 5th 2014, a few months after the beginning of the tensions, representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the two independent republics of Doneck and Lugansk signed the Minks protocol, whose goal was to put an end to the conflict. The agreement provided for an immediate ceasefire, the exchange of prisoners and the Ukrainian commitment for more powers to the Doneck and Lugansk regions. Despite the initial diminishment of hostilities the agreement was not respected.
Today Crimea is formally part of the Russian state and the regions of Donbass are de-facto independent but in an extremely precarious political situation: citizens are divided between separatists and a part of them who want to establish a federation with Ukraine who would be ready to guarantee greater autonomy.
In the meantime, relationships between Russia and Ukraine are still poised.
Tensions are not gone, they are just waiting to explode again. A few months ago, after the settlement of the Biden government, discontent in the Donbass region became harsh again: an Ukrainian soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded by the separatist rebels in the east of the country, which are supported by Moscow. Ukrainian President Zelenskij loudly asked Washington and his allies for a stronger economic and military assistance. He also required a quick entry of Ukraine into the NATO, which would represent a fundamental step in order to contain the Russian influence over the Mediterranean area but would also increase Moscow restlessness. The Ukrainian question is certainly central in the Russia - USA disagreements: the western allies strategy is the inclusion of Kiev in the NATO, so as to expand its eastern borders.
However, tension further increased in the last weeks, Russia enlarged his troops on the border to 150,000 and Bruxelles worries aroused. Russia Ministry of Defense Serghei Shoigue justified the troops movements stating that they were military exercises. Anyway, according to NATO General Secretary, they were real provocations to further destabilize Ukraine. According to analysts, the Russian behaviors have two possible reasons: the imminent start of a new military operation in Ukraine or a warning to Europe and USA. Anyway, according to Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Safety and Foreign Affairs, that was Russia’s greatest military deployment at Ukrainian border ever.
By the way, just a few days ago the news of the withdrawal of Russian troops, even if partial, came out. In fact, according to Shoigu, "the objectives of surprise checks have been fully achieved and the troops have proven to be able to ensure a reliable defense to the country". The Minister of Defense then announced that along the western border of Russia will be left the heavier artillery weapons "for another exercise". Moscow’s announcement comes as a soothing signal from the Kremlin after weeks of tension. As said, the Russian government defines the mobilization of tens of thousands of men and means as an "exercise", but it’s clear that behind there was something much more concrete: the troop movement had provoked the worried reaction of all the chancelleries of Europe and the White House. Indeed, the escalation in Ukraine prompted Biden to call Putin and propose a bilateral summit to discuss the problems facing the US and Russia, including the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and Ukraine’s territorial integrity (which is a very close topic to Biden’s heart).
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