In 2014 the world watched as Russian President Putin invaded and annexed part of sovereign Ukraine. Though it happened mainly without physical opposition from the international community, the move was harshly criticized. Eight years later, the world is facing the prospect of the same thing happening again. Russian troops have been again gathering on Ukrainian borders, and it is possible that they will invade. To what degree and to what end is still unknown.

The Russian threat is complicated, and it involves Putin’s wish to  go back to the days of the USSR, and it is important to consider  the ethnic and community origins of different areas of Ukraine. However, one of the biggest reasons for this standoff between Russia and the west is the perceived threat of NATO expansion. NATO member states consist of many influential players on the international stage, including the United States and Canada. Ukraine has expressed a strong interest in becoming a NATO member state. The advantages include protection and defense by other NATO members in the case of a severe threat to security, including a breach of sovereignty, under Article 5 of the organization’s treaty. 

The threat of NATO expansion to Ukraine is enough cause for Russia to act offensively to stop what they consider a significant threat to their security. The situation is extremely fragile, and some member nations who have had troops positioned in and around Ukraine to help with Russian deterrence have now withdrawn. The circumstances are changing daily, and globally many politicians and political parties have now weighed in. Some believe that the U.S is causing needless escalation. Madelyn Hoffman, 2020 Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, has released a statement: 

 “Specifically, in the matter of Ukraine, the U.S. should negotiate a reduction of military forces in the conflict zone. We call on the Biden administration to pursue a diplomatic solution. We urge the Biden administration to heed European Union allies France and Germany calling for diplomacy, to acknowledge that Ukraine leaders believe Russian invasion is not imminent, and to pursue possible grounds for talks on secondary issues. The United States must also respect Ukraine’s right to self-determination.”

Their comments underline the complexity of the ongoing situation, while the world is watching to see if an invasion comes and how major powers will respond. A diplomatic solution is needed, and the coming days will tell how the crisis will unfold. 

Danna Houssian

Danna graduated with an M.A from Simon Fraser University and a B.A from the University of Victoria. She is highly interested in international relations and defense.

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