According to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Decree no. 117/2021, Ukraine has committed to putting all options on the table to taking back control over the Russian annexed Crimea region. Signed on March 24th, President Zelensky has committed the country to pursue strategies that Ukrinform reports “will prepare and implement measures to ensure the de-occupation and reintegration of the peninsula.”
Although Zelensky had previously indicated that he would attempt diplomacy with Russia, this decision by his government comes as the unresolved grief in the region, originating from the 2014 Ukrainian revolution/coup, appears to be coming to a dangerous head in what looks like an almost certain war. At the date of this article, Russia has responded by mobilizing many thousands of troops near the two nation’s borders in response to Ukraine’s provocations, with a senior Russian official claiming that military action “would be the beginning of the end of Ukraine.”
Ignoring the annexation issue, conflict in Ukraine has raged on seven years now in a stalemate with separatist forces wishing to unsuccessfully secede in the eastern Donbas region, only to have Russian paramilitaries involve themselves because of the Ukrainian revolution/coup. To be frank, I find the ambiguity over what the revolution or coup was when it happened to confuse as little mainstream reporting has called the resulting current tensions what they ought to be viewed as a showdown between Russia and NATO-allied countries.
United States President Biden, who has himself been peripherally involved with Ukraine in the Obama administration (which has spawned various speculations over the years), released a statement late February condemning Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and claimed that “Crimea is Ukraine.” In line with the previous administrations, the Pentagon announced soon afterward that nearly three-hundred-million dollars worth of military aid would be sent to Ukraine, if they meet certain conditions, to support their defence “in line with NATO principles and standards.”
Russia, which has become increasingly jittery as NATO expands towards its borders, naturally sees the recent provocations to threaten its close influence in the region as such and is reacting to be ready if Ukraine and others attack their interests. For instance, the World Socialist Web Site reported on these events that the reason for taking Crimea was to keep Russia’s warm water port available for use (as the governments before the chaos leased it to them). Additionally, Vijay Prashad of Globetrotter wrote that many people in eastern Ukraine speak Russian and may consider themselves culturally close too.
Although Russia should answer for stoking tensions and being vague about its overall interests in all of this, the Ukrainian government should also be scrutinized too over its proclamations and what looks like an attempt to turn a humanitarian crisis into an international conflict (if others get much more involved). While both nations have been accused of using this as a stunt to rally political support in the wake of domestic failings, it is a great irony that the country which wants to create an international group to help take back Crimea (while excluding Russia)―which would “prevent further human rights violations,” according to Zelensky―is fine with cracking down on pro-Russian political sentiment while being ‘democratic.’ If the festering trouble that got NATO, Ukraine, and Russia, into this crisis is not evidence that violence is no recourse for further violence, then nothing will.
Though I write this jestingly, in full seriousness, if all the parties have exhausted peaceful diplomacy without any other provocations, then let the leaders take up their arms first and prove they care about human life instead of treating this suffering as a geopolitical game―because that is all this seems to be.
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