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RUSSIA UKRAINE CONFLICT: A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

INTRODUCTION

Ukraine has always been crucial to Russia, and it continues to be so now. Ukraine is in a unique strategic position, sandwiched between Russia and the West. The Dnieper River divides Ukraine, separating pro-Russian eastern Ukraine from pro-European western Ukraine. Ukraine has become the main point of disputes between Russia and NATO members as a result of Ukraine coming closer to the west. On this background, the Ukraine issue has evolved from border aggression to a high-end demilitarisation action by Russia, to which the rest of the world has remained a silent spectator. In this article, I have analyzed the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and how this war will have a significant impact on the situation of the world.

THE CONFLICT

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a total of 15 nations emerged, including Russia and Ukraine. After a few years, countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were joined the European Union (EU) and eventually also became the part of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) military alliance. This prompted NATO to move closer to Russia’s border to keep an eye on the country. Later, Ukraine also began to move closer to the EU and was about to sign a free-trade deal with the EU in 2013, but due to Russian aggression against Ukraine, Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, who was thought to be pro-Russian, canceled the deal with the EU, and Russia granted Ukraine $15 billion as a result. The cancellation of the deal with the EU sparked a wave of protests in western Ukraine, where the majority of Ukrainians in the west side of the country want to join the EU so that they can develop alongside other EU countries. Yanukovych’s government was toppled as a result of a large number of protests, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk was elected as the new Ukrainian President, who supported the idea of Ukraine joining the EU and NATO. However, Russia was enraged at losing its puppet in Ukraine, so it attacked Crimea and then held a referendum in that region, in which Russia anonymously declared that the people of Crimea wanted to be part of Russia.

Again in Early 2021, the new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, came in talk with US and EU countries to speed up the process of making Ukraine a NATO member. This again aggressed Russia as if Ukraine became a member of NATO then Russia will be blocked by NATO from both North and West. The tensions further escalated in December 2021, resulting in the mobilization of nearly 1.5 lakh of Russian soldiers along the Ukrainian borders to deter the country so that it can stop Ukraine from being a part of NATO[1]. Russia has demanded a ban on Ukraine entering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a reduction of NATO troops and military equipment in eastern Europe for its military forces to be withdrawn[2]. However, NATO rejected the demand of Russia, and as a result, the tensions in Ukraine have now emerged immensely. Russia is also supporting some pro-Russian groups in the Donbas region of Ukraine by providing them weapons and other supplies and thus running a proxy war against the Ukrainian forces. Now, recently Russia also passed legislation declaring Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as Donbas, as separate independent countries. This move of Russia was also supported by countries like Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.[3]

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION & THE IMPACT ON WORLD

The increasing presence of Russian troops in Ukraine is now affecting the lives of millions of innocent people of Ukraine. Russia’s proxy war in the Donbas region has already killed more than 14000 people and also created a refugee crisis in the region and now the war declared by Russia has made the situation even worse. Further, the unavailability of proper food and infrastructure has made the situation direr in eastern Ukraine. Schools, colleges are closed and thus students are also unable to continue with their studies. Also, because of Russia’s continuous infiltration in Ukraine, the global stock markets are crashing amid fears of war. If further, the tensions escalate between both the countries then the world can also witness a huge jump in Food prices as Ukraine is one of the top producers of grains in the world, exporting around 16% of global grain exports[4] and therefore any type of attack on Ukraine can crash the logistic supply chain and can highly affect the food prices. The world can also expect a spike in prices of Oil and Natural Gas as Russia supplies nearly a third of Europe’s gas demands[5] and seeing the current tensions in the region, any type of disruption on either side can drastically increase the prices of Natural gas around the world.

THE WAR CRISIS

Russia on 24th Feb 2022, launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine, which was met with reports of explosions in and around towns such as Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine and Kyiv, the capital. Russian troops and tanks had infiltrated the nation and it was reported that more than 100 missiles were fired into Ukraine, an initial salvo that defense experts believe might be a prelude to a full-fledged assault on Kyiv. So far, at least 137 Ukrainians have been killed and hundreds of refugees have fled the country to survive[6]. Now after the attack of Russia on Ukraine, many European countries along with USA, UK, and Japan have started enforcing several sanctions on Russia by targeting its banks, transport sector, and its individuals to damage Russia economically. Also, Germany has put a hold on the approval of the NORD-2 pipeline from Russia. Further, in the coming days, it is being expected that Russia could face more harsh sanctions because of its continuing military operation.

CONCLUSION

Russia’s forcible invasion of Ukrainian territory is a clear breach of international law and a violation of a country’s sovereignty. Furthermore, sanctions implemented by countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union may not be enough to persuade Russia to end its military activity in Ukraine. The entire globe must join together and prepare for the challenges ahead to find a proper solution to stop Russia from further attacks on Ukraine.

Author(s) Name: Naman Yadav (Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow)

References:

[1] Alex Finnis, ‘Why are Russia and Ukraine fighting? The history of the war explained and timeline of the current conflict’ (i News, 15 February 2022) <https://inews.co.uk/news/world/russia-ukraine-why-fighting-history-war-explained-timeline-conflict-1461394> accessed 17 February 2022

[2]‘Conflict in Ukraine: Global Conflict Tracker’(Council on Foreign Relations, 17 February 2022)<https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ukraine> accessed 22 February 2022

[3]Mansur Mirovalev, ‘Donetsk and Luhansk: What you should know about the ‘republics’’ (Aljazeera, 22 February 2022) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/22/what-are-donetsk-and-luhansk-ukraines-separatist-statelets> accessed 23 February 2022

[4] Ukraine – A Major Grain Producer’ (SGS, 18 December 2020) https://www.sgs.com/en/news/2020/12/ukraine-a-major-grain-producer> accessed 22 February 2022

[5]Patrick Kingsley, ‘Why Ukraine Matters: What to Know About the Crisis With Russia’ (The New York Times, 19 February 2022) <https://www.nytimes.com/article/ukraine-russia-putin.html> accessed 22 February 2022

[6]Jen Kirby & Jonathan Guyer, ‘Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, explained’ (Vox, 23 February 2022) <www.vox.com/2022/2/23/22948534/russia-ukraine-war-putin-explosions-invasion-explained> accessed 24 February 2022