Part 163- Ukraine & Russia

Big things are happening in the world right now. Specifically, Russia invading Ukraine. I want to talk about the major questions that have come in throughout these past few days involving this war. Why is Russia invading Ukraine? Why isn’t NATO or the UN helping? Why isn’t the US helping? These questions all go back a long way to WWII. From the midst of it up until now, so many events have accumulated, leading us to this problem today.

Let’s start with the main question.

 Why is Russia invading Ukraine in the first place?

The answer to this is a bit complicated. The main start to this begins a long time ago when the USSR was ending. After the Soviet Union was declared as no longer existing, many republics began to declare independence. Among these included Ukraine. After this, Russia remained. The USSR was heavily ruined after WWII. It faced a lot of damage in the aftermath, and with the republics declaring independence from the Union, Russia – after the collapse- lost many resources.

When making machinery or militia, not everything is made in the same place. Different parts are built in various places and then brought together in one place to assemble the final product. Because of this, Russia lost many weapons and nuclear arsenal when Ukraine declared independence. That’s one thing. Although Ukraine and Russia had an agreement and Ukraine gave up all the arsenal to Russia, there is another thing that Russia could be after. The reason why Ukraine had a nuclear arsenal in place. Ukraine sits on an abundant amount of Uranium. Uranium is used to make nuclear weapons. Although Russia does have Uranium, Ukraine has a plentiful amount of it, hence a reason to invade.

Another reason is oil. Ukraine is near the Black Sea, which leads to the Mediterranean Sea and then to the Middle East. What’s found in the Middle East? Oil. 

Source{Library of Congress}

Oil and Uranium are the most possible reasons why Russia is invading Ukraine. I’ve done some research on this incident and officials- or merely just reporters- are saying there are other reasons relating to why Russia is invading Ukraine other than the ones I’ve listed. So, we don’t know just yet.

Why isn’t NATO helping? 

Well, what exactly is NATO? Let’s backtrack.

During WWII, the heads of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet had a meeting to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. This was known as the Yalta Conference, which took place near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union. Within a few years, the Cold War began.

The Cold War was a period of tension between two major superpowers at the time, Russia and the United States, and each of their respective allies. Although this conflict was never through any actual war, many proxy wars occurred between the two. One example is Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was used for one of the proxy wars that occurred between the US and Russia. Neither wanted to get into a war on their turf, as seen during WWII, so it was better to fight on another country’s land instead. The US helped a group grow to fight Russia. It’s one we’re very familiar with. The Taliban. However, Afghanistan isn’t surrounded by water. So, the US was pretty much bringing the Taliban through Pakistan, to Afghanistan. This led to Pakistan being on US’s side, as the US was helping them. Since Pakistan and India have many, many conflicts, Russia decided to help India. But anyways, the US was trying to grow the Taliban under their influence so they’ll fight against Russia. In the end, they left Afghanistan in ruins and decided they weren’t going to do anything with the Taliban anymore. This led to the group growing even more and becoming a terrorist group, which was led by Osama bin Laden to attack the Twin Towers. A bit ironic isn’t it?

Another proxy war was the Vietnamese war. Russians fought on Vietnamese land with Vietnamese people against the United States and ended up leaving Vietnam in ruins as well.

Anyway, the Cold War pretty much created a division between the continent. Germany was split into two parts, West and East Germany. East Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union, while West Germany was controlled by the US, Britain, and France. After this, the United States and its allies created NATO.
Russia, seeing this, forms its own “group” called the Warsaw Pact with Eastern European Countries, as an equal balance of power with NATO. 

Source {The Glass Files}

Now, as I said before, the United States is not surrounded by any other countries, except Canada and Mexico. Russia, on the other hand, is bordered by 14 countries. This is a problem for Russia, as they cannot get close to the USA as easily. The US, on the other hand, can. The entire Western border of countries that surround Russia- except for Ukraine- are all part of NATO. Why not Ukraine? Well, Ukraine is directly next to Russia. If Ukraine were to join NATO, that means the US would have access to have its missiles and troops directly at Russia. Ukraine is an aspiring member of NATO, not yet a member, and Russia wants NATO to promise to never accept Ukraine as a member. They said that Ukraine joining NATO would be a threat to Russia’s borders, as already there are 5 NATO countries currently bordering Russia. Because of this, NATO, unfortunately, cannot help Ukraine. 

Source { Quora}

What about the UN?

In the United Nations, there is something called a Security Council. In the Security Council, there are 5 permanent members and many temporary members which change. The 5 permanent members are the USA, UK, France, China, and Russia. These 5 members have veto power over UN resolutions. This means that a permanent member can block the adoption of a resolution without having to debate on it. So, if one member says no, then the resolution is vetoed, even if the others say yes. Everyone has to agree.

Source {Cambridge Global Affair}
Source {dw.com}
Council meeting to discuss Ukraine-Russia
Situation

When Ukraine came to the UN, Russia- a permanent member- vetoed the resolution to help Ukraine. Because Russia said no, nobody could do anything, which means that the UN cannot help Ukraine as well.
There is one country that could help Ukraine, but they have stepped back. India. India became the President of the Security Council, and could help Ukraine, but has already said that it will remain independent and balanced, and will not help. India has a very strong reason to do so.

When India was testing nuclear weapons, Ukraine thought of India as bad. Many times, Ukraine has always condemned India and said India was bad for many things, including its conflicts with Pakistan. Ukraine even sent tanks to Pakistan, which were then used against Indians. So, when Ukraine came to India to help them, India chose to stay out and remain independent.

What about other countries?

Many other countries in Europe can’t help Ukraine, as Russia controls an energy supply, which can be cut off by them.

One other question I’d like to talk about is about what was to happen if Ukraine ended up being taken by Russia.

First, let’s go back to the end of WWII- again- and start from there. When Germany realized it was going to lose the war, it started to crumble and was destroyed. However, there was still one country that was still fighting. Japan. At this time, the United States decides to finally stop this and dops two nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seeing the effects of the bombs, the world was shocked. This was when they realized the United States was on a completely different level compared to them. At that time, the United States didn’t see Russia as a threat. Russia was left in ruins after the war, while the US was perfectly fine, as there was almost no fighting on US soil.

Slowly, over time, Russia began building itself up again, until it became a superpower as well. Soon the Cold War emerged, and Europe was divided between two sides. Pro-USA or Pro-Russia. As I mentioned before, Ukraine has an abundant amount of Uranium. Russia has already close to the level the US is at now, so there is some tension between the two. The US doesn’t want them to be the same, and so they don’t want Russia to get their hands on that Uranium. So, as far as I have heard, the US has troops ready and planned to send some, but they are still not sent just yet.

Overall, I think Ukraine might be the one to blame here. It got itself in its mess. Although Russia is wrong to just attack Ukraine like that and is using hostile force, Ukraine can’t do anything about it. Although the rest of the world is trying to help them, I feel like they should have planned or even seen this coming. I mean, Russia and Ukraine have been having problems since 2014. Ukraine should have been better prepared in case this happened. They also shouldn’t have been too hasty in taking sides. India could have helped Ukraine and talked with Russia about this issue If Ukraine hadn’t condemned India many times in the past. Ukraine was hasty to make a decision and jump to say that India was bad, without even thinking of what could have happened in the future. It’s practically karma. Not only that, Ukraine was aspiring to be part of NATO.

There are many requirements to joining NATO and Ukraine didn’t meet any of those at first. With the help of NATO, Ukraine was getting there. However, many European Allies were against Ukraine joining since it could affect their relationship with Russia. They hoped they could have a closer relationship with Moscow, and Ukraine joining NATO could be a problem. If those Allies could have overcome those thoughts, we possibly could have saved a lot of Ukrainian and Russian lives by now.

The UN is also at partial fault. I feel like their system is very slightly biased. Out of the 5 permanent members, there are three European members, one Asian member, and one North American Member. There are six continents, excluding Antarctica. More than half of the permanent members are from one. Not only that, these countries are all those big powerful ones, and they won’t give up their positions. Because of that, they don’t let countries that need voices to speak out have a chance. Yes, sometimes you need these stronger countries to lead and make decisions because they have the resources and can often make the best decisions to help, but it’s always biased. These big countries that have conflicts with other smaller countries- Russia or China- will use their power as permanent members to prevent those smaller countries to have a voice in decisions. They kind of overpower the others. The concept of the UN was made with good intentions, by a great man. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a dream and decided that the United States cannot ever turn its backs on the world again. From this dream, the UN soon came to be. Although many beneficial things have come out of the efforts of the UN, sometimes the resolutions to certain problems are biased. Or the problems may not even be solved, like what’s happening with Ukraine. I believe there should be a better division of power between the permanent members. Maybe a member per continent or even an ally speaks on behalf of many other countries and is represented. I’m not sure how that could or even would complicate things, but it is a suggestion.

Anyways, that was my take on the Ukraine-Russia situation. I wonder how the other countries will assist Ukraine, and how Ukraine figures out a way to solve this matter. I also wonder if Ukraine will still be an aspiring member and if it ever will get to be a part of NATO.