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The Background that has led to The Darkest hours since 1940’s between Russia and Ukraine. The Heightened fears of military conflict between Russia and Ukraine have been present for some time, and today became very real as Putin authorises attacks Ukraine making for the darkest hours since 1940’s.

Darkest hours since 1940’s

The Heightened fears of military conflict between Russia and Ukraine have been present for some time, and today became very real as Putin authorises attacks Ukraine making for the darkest hours since 1940’s.

Eastern Ukraine has been the location of a “proxy war” between the two countries. A proxy war means that there was no direct involvement of either nation. The opposing powers in a proxy war use others to fight on their behalf.

(© IWM HU 111380) A burning T-34 and other vehicles destroyed in the encirclement battles between Bialystok and Minsk. Soviet tank units were badly handled during ‘Barbarossa’, and the standard of crew training was poor. The first T-34s were also prone to mechanical breakdowns.

Years of division

Not long after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, pro-Russian separatists proclaimed two republics in the eastern part of the country: The Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic — much to the Ukrainian government’s dismay.

Since then, there have been ongoing skirmishes with fighting in the region known as the Donbas, between Ukraine’s troops and separatists.

Image Copyright DW Resneck 2014

Attempt for peace

Germany and France have tried to broker peace deals between Russia and Ukraine, known as the “Minsk agreements.” And although the fighting in the Donbas has been punctuated by periods of cease-fire, both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of violating the terms of the deals and fighting has resumed.

The armed conflict in the Donbas, often described as “war,” has already had a high human cost, with 13,000 to 14,000 people believed to have been killed. An accurate gauge of the death toll is hard to reach, given the civil war-like nature of the conflict.

On Tuesday, Putin told reporters that the “the Minsk agreements were dead long before yesterday’s [Monday’s] recognition of the people’s republics” and again blamed Kyiv for their failure.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has held frequent press conferences calling for Russia to deescalate and inviting diplomacy
Military Drills in Belarus as Russia ramps up Ukraine tensions

What has Russia done?

Backed Separatists: Russia has often denied it has backed separatists in eastern Ukraine but has been accused of supplying military hardware to rebels in a bid to undermine Ukraine’s government, sovereignty and political stability.

Land Grab: After its invasion and annexation of Crimea, which prompted international sanctions on Russia, Western officials feared Putin’s eventual aim was to invade more parts of the country and to install a pro-Russia regime in Kyiv.

Preparing for War: Russia has repeatedly denied it plans to invade Ukraine but the recent massing of more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, and more soldiers stationed in its ally Belarus for military drills, had only served to strengthen concerns that a full-scale Russian incursion was imminent.

Positioning for justification: Political analysts saw the move in 2019 as a cynical precursor to an incursion because if Russia chose to invade, it could say it was only doing so to “protect” its citizens from Ukraine. Russian state media has already focused on Donbas residents fleeing the region in recent days, alleging this was due to shelling by Ukraine’s military.

Putin makes his move: Putin justified ordering troops into eastern Ukraine on Tuesday 22nd February 2022 by saying Moscow’s recognition of the “republics” was “dictated precisely by the fact that the Ukrainian leadership had publicly declared that they were not going to abide by these [Minsk] agreements.” “What more is there to wait for?” he said. What’s more, when asked whether Russia recognised only the borders of the self-styled republics, or beyond and including the larger Donetsk and Luhansk regions in which they are located,

“With regard to the borders within which we will recognise these republics, we did recognise them, which means we recognised their foundational documents, including the Constitution, and the Constitution stipulates their borders within the Donetsk and Luhansk regions at the time when they were part of Ukraine.”

What does Putin want?

Essentially, the battle over Ukraine is a battle for influence and power. Ukraine’s government, now under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has pivoted toward the West in recent years, aspiring to join the EU and NATO and to move away from its post-Soviet orbit of Russia.

Putin, meanwhile, has decried the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a catastrophe and over his 22-year rule in Russia he has sought to rebuild Russia’s power base and sphere of influence over former Soviet states, like Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine — something of the jewel in the crown in the USSR, and a natural buffer state against Europe.

Putin has often extolled the historical unity of Russia and Ukraine and did so again Monday when he ordered troops into the Donbas.

Ukraine’s drift toward the West aggravates Moscow because it does not want to see NATO, or the EU, expand eastward to incorporate Ukraine despite there being no imminent prospect of Ukraine becoming a member of either body.

Ukraine is very attractive to rUSSIA

One of the modern combine harvesters on Ukraine farm land

Ukraine ranks:

1st in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores;

2nd place in Europe and 10th place in the world in terms of titanium ore reserves;

2nd place in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tons, or 12% of the world’s reserves);

2nd largest iron ore reserves in the world (30 billion tons);

2nd place in Europe in terms of mercury ore reserves;

3rd place in Europe (13th place in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic meters)

4th in the world by the total value of natural resources;

7th place in the world in coal reserves (33.9 billion tons)

Ukraine is an important agricultural country:

1st in Europe in terms of arable land area;

3rd place in the world by the area of black soil (25% of world’s volume);

1st place in the world in exports of sunflower and sunflower oil;

2nd place in the world in barley production and 4th place in barley exports;

3rd largest producer and 4th largest exporter of corn in the world;

4th largest producer of potatoes in the world;

5th largest rye producer in the world;

5th place in the world in bee production (75,000 tons);

8th place in the world in wheat exports;

9th place in the world in the production of chicken eggs;

16th place in the world in cheese exports.

Ukraine can meet the food needs of 600 million people.

Ukraine is an important industrialised country:

1st in Europe in ammonia production;

Europe’s 2nd’s and the world’s 4th largest natural gas pipeline system;

3rd largest in Europe and 8th largest in the world in terms of installed capacity of nuclear power plants;

3rd place in Europe and 11th in the world in terms of rail network length (21,700 km);

3rd place in the world (after the U.S. and France) in production of locators and locating equipment;

3rd largest iron exporter in the world

4th largest exporter of turbines for nuclear power plants in the world;

4th world’s largest manufacturer of rocket launchers;

4th place in the world in clay exports

4th place in the world in titanium exports

8th place in the world in exports of ores and concentrates;

9th place in the world in exports of defence industry products;

10th largest steel producer in the world (32.4 million tons).

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