Why is there war between Russia and Ukraine? The conflict in 5 keys

War has broken out in Eastern Europe. Putin has decided to launch “a special military operation” on Ukraine, the ex-Soviet republic that flirts with the West, by moving thousands of troops to the border they share. The recognition of the pro-Russian provinces of eastern Ukraine by the Russian president, Vladimir Putinand the announcement of the dispatch of troops have reinforced the thesis on a invasion of Ukraine. But the game played on Ukrainian territory is much more than a local clash.

USA and the NATOon the Ukrainian side, and Russia, re-establish a pulse for the world hegemony. Here are the keys that help understand the magnitude of the challenge between the former actors of the cold war.

The decisive NATO summit of 2008

To understand the new episode of the Ukrainian conflict you have to go back to 2008 NATO summit when it was agreed that Ukraine and Georgia they would become part of the Atlantic Alliance, without further specification of time. It was the last bloc meeting he attended Vladimir Putin, 13 years ago in Bucharest. AND George W Bush he was the American president who pushed to open the doors of the alliance to the two ex-Soviet republics. Putin described the proposal as “a direct threat to Russia.” That promise, without a date or roadmap, is still a casus beli for the Russian president.

Diplomatic frenzy to avoid war

During the last months, Russia has deployed more 100,000 soldiers (according to the latest statements from Washington, the number would already rise to 190,000) in the border that you share with Ukraine to the point that his own US President Joe Biden, has taken a Russian intervention for granted, arousing the fear of NATO allies. The military confrontation tries to be avoided in high level meetings between Russia, USA and NATO. Experts talk about more frenetic diplomatic activity since the Balkan war. Putin continues to demand that Ukraine not be accepted into NATO as the organization insists that the promise to incorporate the former Soviet republic remains in force. After several meetings at the highest level without excessively encouraging results, the diplomatic frenzy has not ceased in recent weeks with the ultimate goal of avoiding a military confrontation.

The precedent of the annexation of Crimea in 2014

This is not the first time that Russia has placed its troops, threateningly, in the ukrainian border. The closest precedent and the most serious consequences occurred in 2014 when Russia invaded the disputed peninsula of Crimea after the pro-Russian Ukrainian president was deposed. In addition, Ukrainian separatists from the Donbas region, supported by Moscow, seized large areas of eastern Ukraine. The rebels have fought the Ukrainian army ever since in a conflict that has claimed more than 14,000 lives.

Map of Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine: Crimea and Donbas

President Biden has threatened the Russian leader with measures “like you’ve never seen” if Ukraine is attacked. Beyond the military flank, the US is considering the economic coercion. For example, disconnecting the Russian banking system from the international Swift payment system. Another key threat is preventing the opening of the Russian gas pipeline North Stream 2 in Germany, whose approval is being decided by the German energy regulator. There could also be measures aimed at Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF or restrictions on banks converting rubles into foreign currency.

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The dispute over NATO borders

At the heart of the conflict is the claim of Russia to NATO so that go back to your pre-1997 borders. It demands that there be no more expansion of the Atlantic Alliance towards the east and that end to NATO military activity in Eastern Europe. That would mean the withdrawal of combat units from Poland and the Baltic republics of Estonia, latvia and Lithuaniaand the impossibility of deploying missiles in countries like Poland and Romania.

NATO member countries map

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