- BBC News World
Between uncertainty and fear, Ukraine looks towards its neighbor to the east before the possibility of an invasion.
Several Western intelligence agencies have warned in recent months of the possibility of a Russian incursion.
The US president himself indicated on Wednesday that he does not rule out the possibility of a “minor incursion” by the Russian army.
The fact that the US president suggested the possibility of a small attack increased tensions and criticism in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded Thursday to comments made by his American counterpart.
“There are no minor incursions. Just as there are no minor casualties or minor complaints about the loss of loved ones.”
And it is that Russia has more than 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine, although it denies planning an invasion.
Putin has made a series of demands on the West, insisting that Ukraine must never be allowed to join NATO and that the defensive alliance must abandon military activity in Eastern Europe.
This Thursday, amid the tensions, Washington approved that several Eastern European countries send US weapons to Ukraine as a form of support.
“We have been very clear throughout,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, adding that any Russian incursion into Ukraine would face a “swift, severe and united response” from the United States and its allies.
In a speech on Thursday, Biden himself backtracked, saying any Russian troop entry into Ukraine would count as an “invasion.”
Blinken spoke from Germany after meeting with several foreign ministers from key European countries for talks aimed at coordinating a Western strategy in the face of a possible invasion of Ukraine.
He is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva on Friday.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said any Russian incursion into Ukraine “on whatever scale… would be a disaster for the world.”
Last spring, the Kremlin held military exercises in Crimea and then arranged for a wide deployment of heavy military equipment near the Donbass region, the border area in eastern Ukraine where the conflict began.
Weeks later they withdrew the troops, although now they are back.
The military deployment began last November and has been progressively increasing to even reach Belarus, where the troops of the two countries have planned military exercises.
What is Russia looking for?
Russia’s president has long claimed that the United States broke a guarantee it made in 1990 that NATO would not expand further east.
“They just let us down!” he complained at last month’s news conference.
Interpretations differ on exactly what was promised to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Since then, several Central and Eastern European countries, which were part of the Soviet Union or its sphere of influence, have joined NATO.
Four of them – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – have borders with Russia.
Russia argues that this expansion and the presence of NATO troops and military equipment near its borders is a direct threat to its security.
Relations between Moscow and NATO have been strained in recent weeks, after the Kremlin suspended its mission at the body’s headquarters in Brussels on October 18, after the alliance expelled eight Russian representatives accused of espionage.
culture and ethnicity
Russia seized Crimea in 2014, arguing that it had a historic claim to the peninsula.
Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, which collapsed in December 1991, and Putin called the event the “disintegration of historical Russia.”
A hint of President Putin’s thinking on Ukraine appeared in a lengthy article last year when he called Russians and Ukrainians “one nation” and said Ukraine’s current leaders are carrying out an “anti-Russian project.”
Ukraine shares borders with both the European Union and Russia, but as a former Soviet republic it has deep social and cultural ties with Russia, and there is a large Russian-speaking population.
When the Ukrainians deposed their pro-Russian president in early 2014, Russia annexed southern Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and backed separatists who captured large swaths of eastern Ukraine.
Since then, pro-Russian rebels have fought the Ukrainian army in a conflict that has claimed more than 14,000 lives.
The conflict between the rebels and the Ukrainian army has continued to this day, although there is an unstable ceasefire.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download our app and activate them so you don’t miss our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.