President Biden has put 8,500 troops on “heightened alert,” including those serving in intelligence and reconnaissance, in support of NATO and their ally Ukraine amidst worries of a Russian invasion. The president has also ordered diplomats’ families and some nonessential diplomats to evacuate Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Biden advised that American citizens should consider leaving as well, warning of a potential attack, according to a Washington Post article.
Ukraine has been entangled in a conflict with Russia since its military invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014, resulting in a loss of 14,000 lives.
In recent months, Russia has been moving tanks, troops, field hospitals and security services to the western border, according to Ukrainian military intelligence reported by CNN. There has also been an increase in radio and satellites being deployed. ‘Iskander’ medium-range missile launchers have also moved to the border, of which there are currently 36.
The United States, a member of NATO, has consistently supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and pursuit of global involvement. According to a Washington Post article, “NATO was founded in 1949 to protect against Soviet aggression. The alliance has since expanded to 30 countries, including the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The treaty states that if one nation is invaded or attacked by a third party, all nations in NATO will collectively mobilize in it’s defense.”
That part of NATO’s treaty refers to Article Five, collective defense. While Ukraine is not in NATO, it is deemed an ally by the organization, with nations like the U.S. being outspoken and connecting Ukraine to their own values of democracy and self-determination.
Ukraine declared itself an independent country in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It has spent decades trying to join NATO and the European Union but has faced obstacles, such as the election of president Viktor Yanukovych in 2010, who chose to remain unaligned politically, and Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
To reestablish Russia’s power and influence, President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of the west’s focus on China, which the Wall Street Journal says has been labeled a “threat to international order,” in an article. While amassing more than 100,000 troops, Putin has made demands of NATO and, specifically, Biden.
‘“In the 1990s, Russia was considered a written-off country that will never rise again, that should no longer be taken into account. We all have lived through this feeling of humiliation and injustice. And when we feel injustice, pragmatic considerations begin to fade away,” said prominent Russian lawmaker Konstantin Zatulin in the same Wall Street Journal article, on a reason for Putin’s escalation on Ukraine’s border.
Two political plays have been demanding “the withdrawal of U.S. foreign forces from Central Europe” and “threatening to send Russian military deployments to Cuba and Venezuela in an attempt to highlight America’s strategic vulnerabilities,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Russia has claimed that despite the troops and equipment, there is no invasion planned. The U.S. has threatened a “severe and united response” to any Russian aggression towards Ukraine and is anticipating an attack in the near future, according to CNBC. In urgent meetings with Russian officials, the U.S. has refused to negotiate Ukraine’s entry into NATO and does not believe it has the right to determine the future of the former-Soviet state.