RUSSIA – UKRAINE CRISIS
Ukraine & Russia were a part of the USSR and share hundreds of years of cultural, linguistic & familial links.
- Among the former USSR nations, Ukraine was the 2ndmost powerful nation after Russia.
- The relations between the two nations were cordial from the dissolution of the USSR up until recently.
- Tensions between the two nations began in late 2013over Ukraine’s landmark political & trade deal with the European Union.
- Majority of the Ukrainians were angry with the then pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to join the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union instead of the EU. Their protests were known as the Euromaidan movement.
- It saw massive clashes between the protesters and security forces that reached their peak in 2014and led to the ouster of Yanukovych.
- Soon after, amid fears of growing Western influence in Ukraine, Russia decided to act by invading Crimea, which was a part of Ukraine.
- Thereafter, Russia faced sanctions from the west owing to its action of invading Crimea.
- Russia was keeping the tensions high at the Ukraine border in order to get sanctions relief & other concessions from the West.
- Also, it was seeking assurances from the US thatUkraine will not be inducted into NATO.
- However, the failure of such assurance by the west, & the pro-outlook of Ukraine towards the west & NATO, gave an excuse to Russia to conduct a special military operationon Ukraine on the pretext of “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine.
Causes behind the Deepening Crisis:
Expansions carried out by NATO
- Even as the Soviet Union was dissolved NATO embarked on a path of expansion. It started to pull former Warsaw Pactstates into its membership.
- Both for Russia & for the West, Ukraine acted as a crucial bufferat times of war or uncertainty. With Ukraine seeking NATO membership, this safe buffer for Russia was fast disappearing.
Balance of Power
- Ever since Ukraine split from the Soviet Union, both Russia and the West have vied for greater influence in the country in order to keep the balance of power in the region in their favour.
Russia’s Strategic Disadvantage Due to Geography
- Russia-Ukraine Crisis is also a fight to overcome geographical disadvantages faced by Russia.
- In the event of a war, the Russian navy cannot get out to the Baltic Seaeither because NATO controls the Skagerrak Strait, which connects to the North Strait.
- If Russia gets past the Skagerrak, the GIUK Gap (Greenland, Iceland, UK) in the North Seawill prevent its advance to the Atlantic.
- Beyond Bosporus, the Aegean Sea, Mediterranean & Gibraltar Straitsimpede Russia’s movement to the Atlantic Ocean or its route to the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal.
- Its naval facility in the Syrian coastal city of Tartusis strategic but limited.
- Russia has demanded a ban on further expansion of NATOthat includes countries like Ukraine and Georgia that share Russia’s borders.
- Russia asked NATO to pull back its military deployments to the 1990slevel and prohibit the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in the bordering areas.
- Further, Russia has demanded NATO to curb its military cooperation with former Soviet republicsincluding Ukraine.
Response from the West:
- The U.S. has ruled out changing NATO’s “open-door policy” which means, NATO would continue to induct more members.
- The U.S. also says it would continue to offer training and weapons to Ukraine.
- The U.S. & West are imposing new economic sanctions on Russia.
Way Forward: Minsk Agreements
- A practical solution for the Russia-Ukraine situation is to revive the Minsk peace process.
- Minsk agreements were signed to stop the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists & Ukraine administrationin the mineral-rich Donbas region of Ukraine.
- Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarusin
- Its provisions included:
- prisoner exchanges,
- deliveries of humanitarian aid and
- the withdrawal of heavy weapons
- The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
- In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany.
- Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions signed a 13-point agreement.
- The five most important of the 13 points were, in brief:
- An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire
- Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides
- Restore full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine.
- Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries.
- Constitutional reform in Ukraine including decentralisation, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk (paving the way for their secession from Ukraine!).
Effect of Russia – Ukraine Crisis on Global Supply Chain
- Russia-Ukraine crisis will affect the Global Supply Chain in near future. Shortages & price increases of goods & services will eventually impact countries & could stoke social unrest.
Disrupted Ukraine Exports
- Ukraine is long known as the breadbasket of Europe. Ukraine has high quality soil on its eastern, south-eastern part, which made Ukraine the largest crop producing country in Europe.
- It accounts for more than 25% of the world’s trade in wheatand for more than 60% of global sunflower oil & 30% of global barley exports.
- It sends more than 40% of its wheat & corn exports to the Middle East or Africa.
- Some 45%-54% of the world’s semiconductor grade neon,critical for the lasers used to make chips, come from the Ukrainian firms, which are now shut following the attack by Russia. The stoppage casts a cloud over the worldwide output of chips already in short supply after the coronavirus pandemic.
Disrupted Russian Exports
- Russia is the world’s largest supplier of wheat.
- Russia is also a major global exporter of fertilizers.
- Europe gets nearly 40% of its natural gas & 25% of its oil from Russia.
- Russia is a significant source of many of the 35 critical minerals deemed vital to the nation’s economic and national security interests, including 30% of the globe’s supply of platinum-group elements, 13% of titanium & 11% of nickel.
- Russia is also a major source of neon,used for etching circuits on silicon wafers.
Russia exports rare metals like palladium to make semiconductors.