Explainer: What is the reason behind the tension between Russia and Ukraine?

Moscow (Associated Press)-Ukrainian and Western officials worry Russia’s military buildup The vicinity of Ukraine may suggest that Moscow is planning to invade its former Soviet neighbours.

The Kremlin insists that it has no such intentions and accuses Ukraine and its Western supporters of claiming to cover up what they call aggressive designs.

It is not clear whether the concentration of the Russian army heralds an impending attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed the West to pledge to stop NATO’s expansion into Ukraine, accumulation It may reflect an attempt to back up the message.

The following are the current tensions:

What is the root cause of the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine?

UkraineBefore becoming a Soviet Republic, it had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries, gaining independence following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country has begun to get rid of its Russian empire heritage and establish closer ties with the West.

The Kremlin-leaning Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych’s decision to refuse an alliance agreement with the European Union in support of a closer relationship with Moscow triggered mass protests that led to his stepping down in 2014. A separatist rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to support the rebels. Moscow denies this, accusing the Russians who have joined the separatists as volunteers.

More than 14,000 people were killed in the battle that destroyed the Donbass, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine.

The 2015 peace agreement facilitated by France and Germany helped to end the large-scale fighting, but efforts to reach a political settlement failed, and sporadic small-scale conflicts continued along the tense lines of contact.

Earlier this year, the surge in the eastern ceasefire and the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine intensified war fears, but tensions eased after Moscow withdrew most of its troops after the April exercise.

The latest Russian military construction

US intelligence officials determined last week that Russia plans to deploy approximately 175,000 soldiers, nearly half of which are already stationed in various locations near the Ukrainian border, in preparation for an invasion that may begin as early as early 2022.

Ukraine complained that after the large-scale war in western Russia in the fall, Moscow retained more than 90,000 soldiers not far from the border between the two countries.

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated that the troops of the Russian 41st Army remain in the vicinity of Yelnya, a small town about 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksi Reznikov told lawmakers on Friday that the number of Russian troops in Crimea near Ukraine and annexed by Russia is estimated at 94,300, warning that there may be a “mass escalation” in January. “.

In addition, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stated that Russia has approximately 2,100 military personnel in the eastern part of the Ukrainian rebel control, and Russian officers hold all command positions in the separatist forces. Moscow has repeatedly denied the presence of its troops in eastern Ukraine.

Russia did not provide any details about the number and location of its troops, saying that their deployment on its territory should not be related to anyone.

What does Moscow want?

The Kremlin accused Ukraine of failing to comply with the 2015 peace agreement and criticized the West for failing to encourage Ukraine to comply with the agreement. The agreement is a diplomatic coup in Moscow, requiring Ukraine to grant broad autonomy to the rebel regions and provide a full amnesty to the rebels.

In turn, Ukraine pointed out that Russia-backed separatists violated the ceasefire and insisted that despite the Kremlin’s denials, Russian troops continue to exist in the eastern part of the rebels.

Among the mutual accusations, Russia rejected the four-party talks with Ukraine, France, and Germany, saying it was useless given Ukraine’s refusal to comply with the 2015 agreement.

Moscow strongly criticized the United States and its NATO allies for providing weapons to Ukraine and conducting joint exercises, saying this encouraged Ukrainian hawks to try to regain rebel-controlled areas by force.

Earlier this year, Putin said ominously that Ukraine’s military attempt to regain the east would “have serious consequences for the establishment of Ukraine”.

The Russian President has repeatedly described the Russians and Ukrainians as “a nation” and claimed that Ukraine had unfairly acquired Russia’s historic land during the Soviet era.

Putin strongly emphasized that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO is Moscow’s red line, and he also expressed concern about some NATO member states’ plans to establish military training centers in Ukraine. He said that even if Ukraine does not join NATO, this will give them a military foothold there.

Last week, Putin emphasized that Russia will seek “reliable and long-term security guarantees” from the United States and its allies. “This will rule out further eastward movement of NATO and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us near Russian territory.”

He accused “the threat to our western border is growing”, NATO puts its military infrastructure closer to Russia, and proposed that the West conduct substantive negotiations on this issue, adding that Moscow needs not only verbal guarantees, but also ” Legal guarantee”. . “

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said that Russian leaders will push for these assurances in a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday, but many former U.S. and NATO diplomats said that Russia’s Any such request will be impossible. Biden himself stated on Friday that he “will not accept anyone’s red line.”

Is the threat of Russian invasion real?

Russia refuses to refer to the invasion plot as a Western smear campaign and accuses that these claims may conceal Ukraine’s intention to launch an attack in the east. Ukraine denies such plans.

Some observers believe that this increase is Putin’s showing that Russia is ready to increase the bet in order to persuade NATO to respect Moscow’s red line and stop sending troops and weapons to Ukraine.

Last month, Putin pointed out with satisfaction that Moscow’s warning finally gained a certain appeal and caused “a certain amount of pressure” in the West. He added: “It is necessary to keep them in this state for as long as possible, so that they don’t think of some conflicts on the western border that we don’t need.”

U.S. officials acknowledged that Moscow’s intentions are unclear, but pointed out that Russia’s past behavior is worrying.

Biden promised on Friday to make Putin’s attack on Ukraine “very, very difficult”, saying that his government has launched a series of new measures aimed at stopping Russia’s aggression.


Dasha Litvinova of Moscow contributed to this report.

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