Russia is risking all-out war to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO

Wednesday - 12/01/2022 10:48
Russia’s dealings — or, more accurately, its clashes — with the West have focused on one country that has been a particular flashpoint for confrontations in recent years: Ukraine.
106999955 1641981350467 gettyimages 1066337510 TS099354
106999955 1641981350467 gettyimages 1066337510 TS099354

Russia’s dealings — or, more accurately, its clashes — with the West have centered on one country which has been a particular flashpoint for confrontations in recent years: Ukraine.

It’s back in focus this week with a series of high-stakes meetings taking place between Russian and Western officials that are centered on trying to defuse heightened tensions between Russia and its neighbor.

A particular issue right now is whether Ukraine — something of a frontier country between Russia and the rest of Europe, and one which aspires to join the EU — could one day become a member of the Western military alliance NATO.

This is a possibility Russia vehemently opposes.

As the Russia Council prepares to meet NATO officials in Brussels on Wednesday, CNBC has a guide to why Russia cares so much about Ukraine and how far it might be willing to go to stop Ukraine from joining the alliance.

Why does Ukraine matter?

Relations between the European neighbors hit a low in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and it has supported a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country where low-level fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian troops has continued ever since.

Tensions have ratcheted up even further in recent months amid multiple reports of Russian troops amassing at the border with Ukraine, prompting widespread speculation that Russia is preparing to invade the country although it has repeatedly denied it is planning to do so.

 
Conscripts get on a train at a railway station before departing for military service with the Russian Army. This year, the autumn military call-up in Russia lasts from October 1 to December 31; estimated 127,500 men are going to be drafted.
Conscripts get on a train at a railway station before departing for military service with the Russian Army.
This year, the autumn military call-up in Russia lasts from October 1 to December 31; estimated 127,500 men are going to be drafted.
Sergei Malgavko | TASS | Getty Images
 

For their part, the U.S., EU and NATO have warned Russia that they will, as President Joe Biden told President Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Dec. 30, “respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.” Just how far the West would go to defend Ukraine is a big question, however.

What does Russia want?

Last month, Russia set out several main demands to the West on Ukraine, among other security matters, in a draft security pact.

In the document, it demanded that the U.S. must prevent further eastward expansion of NATO and must not allow former Soviet states to join the alliance.

Russia also demanded in the draft pact that the U.S. “shall not establish military bases” in the territories of any former Soviet states that are not already members of NATO, or “use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.”

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Author: Editors Desk

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