By: Erica Adams
April 8, 2022
On February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine’s military headquarters, airports, and large cities from land, air, and sea. Since then, Russia’s military has increasingly intensified strikes on civilian targets and infrastructure, resorting to “tactics used in previous wars in Chechnya and Syria: flattening cities with overwhelming and indiscriminate firepower.” The invasion has caused thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties. But the words “war” and “invasion” are banned in Russia. Instead, Russia’s contact with the Ukraine is to be referred to as a “special military operation.” The WAR—because the First Amendment permits this American to call it what it is—marks the largest conventional military mobilization in Europe since World War II.
Among other incoherent rationalizations, such as to “cleans the country,” Putin seeks to justify his invasion on Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO. Currently, Ukraine is not a member of NATO but a “partner” country—meaning there is an understanding that it might join at some point in the future. To stop the war, Putin has ordered that Ukraine comply with a list of demands, which includes, among other things, that Ukraine redraft its constitution to guarantee its abstinence from ever joining the NATO alliance.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a military alliance formed in 1942 by 12 countries, whose aim was originally to counter the threat of post-war Russian expansion in Europe. In response to NATO’s growing power in 1955, Soviet Russia created the Warsaw Pact, its own military alliance of eastern European communist countries. However, many of the countries which comprised the Warsaw pact “switched sides” and became NATO members when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. NATO is now comprised of 30 member states, and its mission is “to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.”
Putin complains that due to NATO’S presence in Eastern Europe, Russia now has “nowhere further to retreat to,” thus, Putin also wants NATO to reverse its eastward expansion, which would require NATO to remove its forces and military infrastructure from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. NATO and the United States rejected.
NATO is not obligated to defend Ukraine due to Ukraine’s status as a partner country. Particularly, NATO countries have expressed that any direct confrontation with Russia would lead to a full-blown conflict. President Biden has particularly stated that such an encounter would implicate a world war.
However, while NATO has not sent soldiers into combat for the Ukraine, many countries that comprise it have also not stood idly by. Russia has been shut out of the international Swift payment network, and Russia’s central bank has had its foreign assets frozen. Moreover, NATO and non-NATO countries stand with the Ukraine and have sent weapons, imposed sanctions, and or made statements in support of Ukraine.
The United States: The United States sent $200 million in weapons to the Ukraine, including missiles and anti-aircraft missiles, and has allowed other NATO countries to send US-made weapons. The US has also imposed a list of sanctions, including bans on imports of Russian oil and gas, as well as disallowing Russian airlines from American airspace.
The EU Generally: For the first time in history, the EU will help provide arms for warzone, promising to send 450m euros to fund the Ukrainian weapons supply. Moreover, it aims to cut gas imports by two-thirds within a year, banned Russian airlines in its airspace, and banned Russia’s state-run media, Sputnik and Russia Today, which are seen as a Kremlin mouthpiece.
Germany: Germany is sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 missiles and it has dropped restrictions on other countries sending German-made weapons to Ukraine. Moreover, Germany has halted approval on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Netherlands: The Netherlands is sending 200 anti-aircraft missiles. Belgium is sending 2,000 machine guns and fuel. Sweden is sending 5,000 anti-tank weapons, helmets, body armor and rations.
Poland: The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pledged his government’s support against “Russian neo-imperialism,” promising to help Ukraine with fuel, weapons, and humanitarian and economic aid. The country is bracing for a massive influx of refugees from Ukraine if Russia attacks. Poland is also hosting nearly 5,000 U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Middle East: Leadership from Turkey, Israel, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, and Kuwait have also spoken up in support for Ukraine.
Some countries have chosen a neutral stance.
India: Due to its good relations with the Russian Federation and Ukraine, India has maintained a neutral position as a non-aligned state.
China: China also aims to take diplomatic measures and strike a balance between western countries and Russia.