Ukraine Soliciting Western Support Following Russian Military Buildup

Earlier this week reports disclosed a Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border, as well as in Crimea, a territory annexed by Moscow in 2014. Approximately 41,000 troops were added on Ukraine’s eastern border, and 42,000 more in Crimea. This buildup raises fear about the possibility of invasion in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense also stated that over 20 ships were deployed in the Black Sea to perform military exercises. Additionally, the Ministry blocked off navigation in parts of the Black Sea until October; an action condemned by both the US and the EU. In total, close to 100,000 troops currently stand on the Ukrainian border and Crimea, which is the largest gathering of troops on the Ukrainian border since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Since then, the Ukrainian government allied with Western forces has been fighting separatist rebels backed by the Kremlin. To this day, the conflict has killed more than 14,000 people. Some have projected that this recent military buildup may reinvigorate hostilities between Ukraine and Russia.

The US secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has called Russia’s actions provocative and offered America’s support to Ukraine. Subsequently, the Pentagon has warned that this buildup is an unwarranted escalation of hostilities purposefully looking to de-stabilize Ukraine.

On the night of the 20th of April, Ukrainian President Zelinsky asked Vladimir Putin to meet in Ukraine to discuss the events of recent weeks. He called upon the Russian leader to establish a ceasefire on the border, to protect innocent lives. Ukraine is now seeking support from the West to hold off any possibility of a Russian offensive.

The next day, Putin warned the West during his State of the Nation address not to cross what he called a “red line” with Russia. Meanwhile, demonstrations in Moscow deemed illegal by the government have unraveled and more than 1000 protestors have been arrested. The protests are aimed at expressing the people’s resentment towards the Kremlin’s attempted assassination and imprisonment of political rival Alexei Navalny, as well as towards Russia’s persistent authoritarian conduct more widely.

Russia’s ominous military buildup was reviewed in a NATO meeting earlier this month, where leaders urged Russia to withdraw all of the supplementary troops it has recently committed to the region. NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg demonstrated his displeasure with Russia’s threatening military actions and has called upon Putin to respect his international commitments, as well as Ukraine’s sovereignty. Paired with the Navalny concern, this reinvigoration of tensions between Kyiv and Moscow has damaged the relationship between Putin and NATO even further.