Column: America and European tension in Ukraine

Cullen Davis, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

Over the past week, the tension between Russia, Ukraine, and the United States of America has caused members to set up military training centers in Ukraine. Russia demanded Ukraine renege their consideration, but demands were not met.

Putin fuels his motive to play the big bad wolf due to his experience with western countries liking and advocating for him. Countries such as Germany and Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder, France and Francois Fillon, and Austria and Karin Kneissel. Instances of this being carried out can be seen when Putin and Russia faced no punishment but symbolic sanctions for their involvement in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and cyberattacks on 18,000 American citizens.

As a result of annexing the Crimean Peninsula, Russia violated the Budapest Memorandum Security Assurance for Ukraine, an agreement made in 1994 between the United States, Ukraine, and Russia to protect Ukraine from sovereignty in exchange for a promise to give up its nuclear arsenal. Military support by America, European, and NATO allies for Ukraine, along with sanctions, can make a significant difference. These actions convey to Russia and Moscow that there will be inimical consequences. However, there still remains the risk the Russian government will not back down but instead escalate to further military and political action. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “If it happens, it will be an open war. A horrible war. We understand these risks. I’m just doing what I should be doing as president of Ukraine.” You cannot judge Zelensky. What else is there to do in that situation? The situation he was handed upon taking office is bigger than the average can chew. The threat of war is real. They have no nuclear weapons, have  already lost 18.000 citizens, and have 100,000 enemy soldiers armed on the front lines. Aid is needed and critical. I just wonder why it must always be America in these situations. Throughout history, these instances have turned into “forever wars” and been heightened to the point of “imminent war.” The bad blood between America and Russia has been brewing for decades and it is no secret to other nations around the globe. Ukraine has similar issues with Russia, forging a bond and a relationship between America and other Western countries. However, this alliance has fostered Russia and President Vladimir Putin to take swift and detrimental action, but what caused this?

Ukraine was once a part of the Russian empire starting as a Soviet republic. Ukraine won independence when the USSR won its independence in 1991. Since then, Ukraine has worked hard to remove the adverse history associated with Russia and make new relationships with the West. In 2014, former Soviet President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a EU agreement in favor of keeping a closer relationship with Moscow, the capital of Russia. This did not go over well with the Soviet citizens, and significant protests occurred around the country. Yanukovych would be removed as the leader in an event known as the Revolution of Dignity.

Russia responded by annexing and taking authority over the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula. They would go on to support and aid the separatist rebellion that was occurring in Ukraine. More than 14,000 people were dead at the conclusion of the conflict in Donbas, Ukraine. Russia and Putin are still operating as the honcho to Ukraine and want to exercise their dominance over a country they used to control. Last Monday, Jan. 23, President Joe Biden was prepared to send 8,500 soldiers to Ukraine. Putin’s representative, Dmitri Peskov, claims these actions added to the uneasy atmosphere saying, “The United States is escalating tensions. We are taking these U.S. actions with great concern.”

If Putin carries out more military action, America and its European allies have promised to hit Russia with financial sanctions. Actions such as cutting Russia out of SWIFT, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, blocking Russia from the U.S. dollar, and banning the trade of high-tech items needed for warplanes, passenger jets and smartphones. If the action gets to that point, Biden has said Ukraine will “Regret having done it.”

There lies the problem: America always has to come save and be a hero in countries across the waters. A few months ago, Biden drew criticism for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Although it did bring a conclusion to America’s longest war, it was a deadly and chaotic exit. Now months removed, America finds itself deploying more troops overseas. This all comes at a time when the nation is still battling a pandemic, economic crisis, and racial tensions. It seems as if the cycle of portraying Captain America is on a constant loop. 

In an effort to move forward, Ukraine has been interested in joining NATO when bidding opens in 2024. The purpose of NATO is to “Guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.” 30 countries are members of this organization that aims to promote democratic values, resolve disputes and partake in “military crisis-management” if peaceful resolutions fail. Russia does not want Ukraine to join due to this, and I wish that is not the case for this situation.