Ukrainian Tensions Rise In Fear of Russian Invasion

          Ukraine has entered martial law, as tensions rise between the nation and its neighbor, Russia.

          First, before we go any further, it’d be best to get a basic understanding of the situation. Ukraine became an independent state in 1991, after the collapse of the USSR. Since it’s foundation, there was already bad blood between the two. In 2014, following a referendum, Russia annexed Crimea. After taking control of the small region in the peninsula of southern Ukraine on the Black Sea, the area was ‘fully integrated’ into Russia in July of 2015. However, Ukraine and the vast majority of international powers still consider Crimea as Ukraine’s. 

Diagram to map and help picture Crimea and the coveted Crimean Bridge. Map courtesy of The Telegraph.

          For more information, I recommend the acclaimed documentary Crimea As It Was. It spread awareness of the situation to the world and helps give the viewer a better idea of what’s really happened in Crimea. Even though it came out in 2016, it’s still a similar situation. Russia has also been accused of backing various separatists movements in eastern Ukraine, which has left more than 10,000 dead since 2014.

          On Monday, December 3rd, the Ukrainian military announced that it has began servicing its first wave of active reservesmen. This group includes men up to the age of 40 who have passed training, alongside cadets who also undergo armed forces training. Officials have claimed that those called would be home in time for the holidays, starting on the 25th which is just before martial law expires. In the meantime, drills and planned military exercises will be taking place across the Ukrainian-Russian border and two regions near Crimea.

Joined by Canadian and US commanders, President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech to soldiers at a military exercise in Chernihiv. Moment captured by Sergei Supinsky/AFP

          Another action that has been taken is the banning of entry of Russian men into the country. Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, announced it was to prevent Russian ‘private’ armies from forming on their state’s soil. Men that are 16-60 are being turned away, with reports that even women beings stopped from crossing over the border. Officials have reported that some exceptions would be made, for example in the case of funerals.

          All of this follows the development in Kerch, where 21 sailors from Ukrainian vessels have been captured by Russian forces and been transferred to Moscow. Russia accuses the sailors of violating its border, while Ukrainian officials debate that fact, claiming they sailed with international maritime rules. Those captured have are being treated in hospitals if necessary, otherwise they’re being arrested. They face up to six years in prison on charges of violating borders.

          Kerch isn’t the only action taken by Russia recently. More anti-ship missiles have been positioned over the strait, and an additional armory of S-400 surface-to-air rockets have been deployed in Crimea. However, it seems that those were being installed pre-Kerch crisis, according to satellite imaging.

          United States president Donald Trump has also cancelled a meeting with Putin at the G20 summit this weekend. He demanded that the head of Russia release the Ukrainian ships. Addressing the press, Trump announced he couldn’t get to Putin by phone after the ships were seized. Earlier this week the Kremlin revealed that no talk was planned between the two.

President Trump was due to meet with Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit, but cancelled his confrontation less than an hour before it happened, insisting the the Russian President be more lenient on Ukraine. Image courtesy of AFP.

          Ukraine is a much weaker force militarily than its potential invader. They have less than a quarter of as many troops, and also lose to Russian air/sea superiority. It doesn’t help the Slavonic nation that it isn’t a part of the military super-alliance NATO. A nation cannot join the organization if there is a land dispute occuring, so though allied with others Ukraine stands alone. Analysts have suggested that a potential Russian invasion isn’t imminent, and wouldn’t occur before the March presidential election of Ukraine.


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