A study on the historical roots of the invasion: Ukraine is a region of geopolitical conflict between Russian apprehension and the expansion of the Western camp

BY: Basma Anwar              

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 AD, Ukraine managed to obtain its independence and became a unified state consisting of 24 oblasts (provinces) with its capital “Kyiv” in addition to the autonomous “Republic of Crimea”, and two cities with a special central government “Sevastopol and Sevastopol” located in Eastern Europe, It is bordered by Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov to the south, but since that independence date, the relationship between Ukraine and its neighbor Russia did not enjoy any stability, but rather lived in a state of fluctuation The reasons for this escalating tension are due to Moscow’s fear of Kyiv’s loyalty to the Western camp, which includes the United States of America, the European Union and NATO, which it considers a very dangerous threat to its national security from the western side.                                                                        

In this context, this study reviews the historical roots of the emergence of the Ukrainian crisis, which caused an actual war in the heart of the European continent, which enjoys security and stability. He ignited the fuse of the war between Moscow and how, by focusing on the most prominent historical stages that pushed the situation towards escalation, along with the international parties that extracted the “Ukrainian loyalty” from Russia and put it in its pocket, which resulted in an exacerbation of the situation and an intensification of hostility between the two parties to the conflict – Russia and Ukraine – in addition to that. To “Kyiv” clinging to the dream of joining NATO and increasing the intransigence of the Russian bear and its practice of a policy of tutelage over its eastern neighbor.                                                                                 

Conflict background:

The Western power, led by the United States of America, began trying to disengage Russia and Ukraine, by making several attempts to include Ukraine into the “European Union”. the Ukrainian government in Donbass, and pro-Russian protests escalated in southeastern Ukraine and the situation escalated into an armed conflict between [Russian-backed separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and Ukrainian government forces], along with the crystallization of relations between the European Union and Ukraine since In 2012 through the “Partnership Agreement” between them, during the presidency of “Victor Yanukovych” who is loyal to the Russian side, and he attended the European Union summit in “Vilnius” on November 28 and 29, 2013, but he did not sign the agreement, which resulted in his delay in signing the partnership agreement To the emergence of the pro-European Union “Euromaidan” movement, which in turn led to the overthrow of the “Yamukovich” regime by parliament after the outbreak of the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014, “Kyiv” worked hard to integrate In the European Union, but Moscow’s supporters in the eastern part of the country opposed it.                                             

Despite this, the political part of the “Association Agreement” was signed on March 21, 2014, by the new Prime Minister of Ukraine “Arsenys Yatsenyuk” and at the same time the European Union tried to stabilize Ukraine and provide financial aid to it, and later the part was signed The economic association agreement was signed on June 27, 2014 by the new Ukrainian president, and on January 1, 2016 Ukraine joined the European “Free Trade Agreement” with the European Union, and Ukrainian citizens were granted the possibility of visa-free travel to the “Schengen” area on June 11, 2017 The partnership agreement officially entered into force on September 1, 2017.                                                                                        

On the other hand, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became the focus of the geopolitical conflict between the United States of America and Russia. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US security adviser, mentioned in his book [The Great Chessboard], “Russia’s domination of Ukraine is sufficient to restore the Soviet Union again, Therefore, Ukraine has been an arena for conflicts, divisions, and revolutions since 2004.” This is in addition to the efforts of NATO members, led by the United States of America, to fight any idea that would help revive the disintegrated Soviet entity again, so the alliance – NATO – works to prevent Moscow from attempts to approach From “Kyiv”, but paving the way for the latter to join under his banner.                                                            

In addition, the Russian entity has destabilized the development of relations between America, European countries, and Ukraine in tense circumstances that have been called [the new Cold War] between Russia and the Western camp, especially after Kyiv left [the Commonwealth of Independent States], which was previously established by the two parties to the conflict – Moscow and how – in addition to To Belarus “Belarus” December 8, 1991, where the three countries met, and an agreement was signed to establish a “Euro-Asian” regional organization that would be an alternative to the Soviet Union. The former Soviet Union, and then a number of Asian and Caucasian countries joined the organization, namely: (Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan), and the organization expanded its activities to include various fields, including: [trade, finance, enactment of laws and security, and it also strengthened cooperation in the field of Democracy and the fight against terrorism, the Commonwealth of Independent States is involved in the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations].                                                                                  

Signs of the crisis have recurred since Ukraine left the Russian Federation, which led to an increase in the level of Russian tension, especially after Ukraine strived to join NATO, which left Moscow in a state of anxiety and unease, as it considers the Ukrainian political situation to be the core of its national security, and Kyiv’s accession to the camp. The Western side is a very dangerous threat from the western side that may afflict it. It is obvious that the result of this accession will make Kyiv a member of the “European Joint Defense Agreement”, which means the presence of NATO forces and European forces on the Russian borders, which Russia did not accept in any way. As it considers that the Ukrainian border with it is a “pressure tool” waved by the Western camp in its confrontation, so Russia has not granted Ukraine absolute independence and will not let go of its grip to join the hostile side, in addition to several other challenges that are still pending between the two countries – Russia and Ukraine. It led to high levels of escalation and the intractability of a political solution to it. We will review them in the following lines:                                                          

The Black Sea Fleet and the nuclear arsenal:                         

The military importance of the fleet of the Soviet Union deteriorated after its collapse, due to the decline in funding and the decline of its main importance, and then the division of military property in the Soviet Socialist Republics took place in the first half of the nineties, and in most cases the division took place in a more flexible manner, as most of the former Soviet republics agreed to Moscow’s proposals, After 1991 AD, it retained control of the largest warehouses of military equipment and ammunition, but most of the coastal facilities of the fleet and weapons were under Ukrainian jurisdiction, so the Ukrainian government ordered the establishment of its own Ukrainian Navy, and accordingly the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet was transferred under its jurisdiction. and declared it a subject area on April 5, 1992.              This was a blatant attack by Kyiv on the entire Black Sea Fleet, given that, at that time, it was part of the United Armed Forces of [the Commonwealth of Independent States], which angered Moscow and prompted the President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, to Issuing a counter-decree on April 7, 1992, stipulating the status of the Black Sea Fleet under the jurisdiction of Russia, and the Kremlin suggested resolving the crisis through negotiations, during which both decrees were suspended, and the two parties continued to resort to negotiations until the [Sochi] agreement was signed to share the Black Sea Fleet Between Ukraine and Russia, where the issue of the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in [Sevostopol], was one of the most acute challenges in relations between “Moscow and how”, however, the issues related to the ownership and infrastructure of the Black Sea Fleet raised several new acute crises between the two parties, and Moscow did not want In the loss of key points in the Crimea, which was subject to Ukrainian sovereignty, as the latter sought to reset the entire infrastructure and possessions of the Black Sea Fleet and took serious and strict steps in this direction.

Division of property inherited from the Soviet Union:                                                            

And to complement that scene, after periods of tension and tension in the division of property between the two countries and the attacks of each of them on the property of the other side, the two parties agreed on several agreements, including Russia’s retreat from the “recognition condition” of Sevostopol as the main base of the Black Sea Fleet and the departure of its headquarters as concessions made by Russia The adaptation was already done in June 1995, in exchange for obtaining 81.7% of the ships, which paved the way for building trust and Moscow and How agreed to divide the rules between them, and several intergovernmental agreements followed, which strengthened the previous agreements between the two parties, and accordingly Russia obtained nearly Of 400 different ships and 161 aircraft, Russia was able to use three ship centers in [Sevastopol, Feodosia and Nikolaev] temporarily, and the naval aviation of the Black Sea Fleet used two Crimean airports, and Ukraine specified the number of weapons and Russian naval forces that can be present on its territory so that it does not exceed 25 A thousand people, and in return Russia pledged to rent infrastructure in the amount of 98 million countries, and the period of Russian residence in Crimea expired on May 82, 2017, and the ousted president was “in “Victor Yanukovych” in 2010 intends to extend the lease to Russia until 2042, but that decision angered the Ukrainian opposition and strongly criticized it.                         

In a related aspect, during the Cold War, a nuclear arsenal was built on Ukrainian soil, where the latter possessed the third most powerful nuclear power in the world at the time, and therefore it was considered a Soviet nuclear arena on its lands, and these weapons are also part of the Russian nuclear arsenal located on Ukrainian lands, and after its independence From the Soviet Union, Kyiv inherited the huge nuclear arsenal, which is estimated at about 176 intercontinental missiles and more than 2,500 tactical missiles.                                                                      

Ukraine’s relinquishment of its federal inheritance in exchange for guaranteeing its territorial integrity:    And by extension, the Ukrainian parliament hoped in 1990 that Ukraine would become a non-nuclear state, so it adopted since that year a “non-nuclear policy” that the new independent state would become free of nuclear weapons, but the Ukrainian Prime Minister “Leonid Kuchma”, at that time who He later became president of the country. A year after independence, he announced his refusal to give up nuclear weapons completely, and that it was not in the country’s interest to take this step and Ukraine should keep part of the nuclear arsenals, but he did not succeed in persuading the Ukrainian Parliament, which voted in 1994. That Ukraine becomes a country completely free of nuclear weapons, and in that year Ukraine signed the [Budapest International Memorandum], which includes Russia, the United States of America and Britain, through which Kyiv agreed to dismantle its stockpile of nuclear weapons, the issue of nuclear weapons was formed On the territory of the former Soviet Union, after its dissolution, an urgent challenge against the background of the economic collapse and the outbreak of regional conflicts in the region. Sia, this is necessary to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but Ukraine had a different position, as it demanded several guarantees to secure its sovereignty and guarantee its territorial integrity.                                                                                   

Therefore, the main points [of the Budapest Memorandum] came to provide international guarantees and commitments not to prejudice the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and in return obligated it to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory in a timely manner, and the “Russian Federation, the United States of America and the United Kingdom” pledged to do so, as follows:                        

– Respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, borders and independence in accordance with the outcome document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.                                                                                      

– Do not use any weapons against the political independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, except in self-defense and in other cases in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.                                               

– Refrain from economic coercion, aimed at subordinating Ukraine’s exercise of the rights inherent in its sovereignty to its own interests and thereby securing any advantages for itself.                                                                                   

– Demanding the Security Council of the United Nations to take immediate action if Ukraine, as a state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, becomes a threatened target or a victim of aggression using nuclear weapons.                                                          

– Do not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, with the exception of cases of attack by this country on the countries associated with the memorandum and their territories and allies.                                                               

– Advise if disputes arise regarding the above commitments.

Putting Crimea under Russian sovereignty:

Crimea is located in southern Ukraine, and it extends between [the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov], and it is separated from Russia from the east by the Kerch Strait, which is of great importance, because it is the only link between Bahrain and through it only the two important Ukrainian ports can be reached: [Mariupol and Berdyansk], and it is considered The sea route is of paramount importance to Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, with its two mineral-producing factories. The newly independent Ukraine made the status of the “Republic of Crimea” self-governing, while the Crimean Supreme Council affirmed Crimea’s sovereignty as part of Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities consolidated Crimea’s autonomy. In 1995, the Ukrainian constitution, which was codified in 1996, stipulated that Crimea has the status of an autonomous republic, but it stipulated that the laws enacted in the Republic of Crimea must be in line with Ukrainian laws and not violate them, and made it a government and parliament of its own that can manage its internal affairs.                                                                            

Tension within Ukraine:                                                         

In a parallel context, the internal situation in Ukraine after its independence witnessed a period of political conflict, as Russian politicians in Crimea sought to consolidate Crimea’s relationship with Russia and to establish its sovereignty through several steps that the Ukrainian government considered as a violation of the Ukrainian constitution, and Russia agreed with that to grant Russian passports for Crimean citizens. The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Volodymyr Oryzko, accused Moscow of interfering in its affairs, describing it as a “real problem”, given Russia’s declaration of military intervention outside its territory in order to protect Russian citizens, as the vast majority of the Crimean population was of Russian origin. While the Ukrainians and Tatars of origin constitute the minority, and therefore it demographically includes one of the largest groups of people of Russian origin in Ukraine, but the latter failed all attempts by the Russian Federation to interfere in its sovereignty and made Crimea  a limited sovereignty.                                                      

Arguments for the Russian invasion of Crimea:

To make it clear, Russia has taken several pretexts to interfere in Ukrainian affairs, the most important of which is the pretext of securing its western borders and to prepare for any danger posed by the Western camp that may affect the Russian sphere of sovereignty and territory, as “Kiev” constitutes a source of potential ideological danger to its national security, especially after Ukraine publicly declared its loyalty to the Western camp. And given the geographical participation between them – Moscow and Kiev – Ukraine has a great importance for it that it cannot turn a blind eye to, politically and economically: Ukraine is a major neighbor for Russia, enjoying huge military, industrial and agricultural wealth and potential, and historically: it is the cradle of the civilization of the “Kingdom of Kievan Rus”, according to historians Russia and Belarus derive their name from “Rus” in the name of the kingdom, whose capital was Kiev, and that is why it is called “the mother of Russian cities”. The aspect of the Slavic race spread between Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and geographically: it borders it to the east and connects it with the camp of the Western powers, and socially: it has many relations between them, especially in the border areas, all of these things make Ukraine a pressure card that threatens the “Bear’s Den”. to Russia, which the Western camp could possess if it managed to annex Ukraine to NATO, so Moscow refuses to give it up and refuses to turn Kyiv into dependency and loyalty to its competitors in the Western camp.                  

The beginning of the Russian escalation:                               –

Based on the foregoing, the spark of the crisis ignited since the beginning of the “Kyiv” negotiations with the European Union, to join the bloc that includes 27 countries on the European continent, and this would make it a member of the [European Joint Defense Agreement], which means the presence of NATO forces and forces European countries on the Russian borders, and as a result, Moscow saw this as a direct and actual threat to its security and stability, so it blatantly interfered in Kyiv’s sovereignty and refused its membership in any Western bloc, especially NATO, which it does not accept at all, and for this it intensified its efforts with the aim of obstructing Ukraine’s efforts in that direction. And keeping it a gray area separating it with the Western powers after the option of returning Ukrainian loyalty to it became excluded, which made it – Kyiv – an undeclared war arena between Russia and the West, and it is still in a stage of stalemate, but Russia from time to time moves signs of starting an imminent war that may lead to To a massive crack that affects the entire European region.       For all of these reasons that Moscow took as a justification to be able to occupy the autonomous Crimea peninsula and annex it to it, it seized the opportunity for the 2014 revolution in Ukraine and the instability of its internal conditions, as the Ukrainian capital witnessed widespread protests during that period, in addition to confrontations between “loyal separatist movements.” Backed by Moscow and the Ukrainian regular forces, “and fled on the run after the former Ukrainian President, “Victor Yanukovych”, in February 2014, and days after the escape of “Yanukych”, armed men opposed to the “European Maidan” movement took control of Crimea, and occupied The Crimean Parliament by unidentified forces, which are believed to be Russian special forces, and after that Crimea announced that it would hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine, and this controversial referendum was followed by the declaration of the Russian Federation in mid-March of the same year to “annex Crimea” to it in response to the result The popular referendum, and since that time the Russian government has intensified its military build-up in the border area, and with this internationally illegal act, Russia has violated treaties and agreements with Ukraine, especially the “Budapest Memorandum”. Which was signed by the two parties and was rejected by the wall, and it led to Ukraine by occupying the Crimea peninsula and annexing it illegally. This was a milestone and the beginning of an undeclared war.    

The intransigence of the Russian bear and the exchange of accusations between the two sides of the conflict:                                         

The Russian position: Russia evades all accusations against it, about its violation of international agreements with Ukraine, especially the 1994 [Budapest Memorandum] and takes the Crimean referendum as a pretext for this aggressive annexation, and justifies that by considering Ukraine after its second revolution in 2014 as a newly established state, so the Budapest Memorandum cannot Its application, because Russia did not sign any binding document towards this new state, and therefore the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 does not apply to it, nor to the modern conditions that arose as a result of this new revolution. It also believes that the general referendum that took place in Crimea is a legitimate referendum and did not contradict Ukrainian and international laws, as Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became part of Russia according to the March 2014 referendum that It was supported by 96.77 of the Crimean voters, 95.6 of the survivors of the city of Sevastopol, and members of the Crimean parliament voted on March 6 to support secession from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation, and Russia agreed to Initiation of annexation In addition to confirming Russian President “Vladimir Putin” that the issue of Crimea “closed once and for all”.  

The Ukrainian confrontation: While the Ukrainian government believes that the referendum conducted by the Crimean authorities is unconstitutional and illegal, to secede from it and join the Russian Federation, and this is a violation of its internal legislation and sovereignty and also a violation of the rules of international law stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations because it is part of Ukrainian territory, and the Ukrainian parliament has announced That Crimea is a land temporarily occupied by Russia, and this was stated by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, “Adri Dechytsa” on March 27, 2014 during a speech he delivered at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, and stressed that the referendum held in Crimea is invalid, and asked “Dishitsa” of the General Assembly supported a resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which Kyiv and Westerners denounced as illegitimate.                                                      

In conclusion

over the past few years, the situation in eastern Ukraine has worsened between “Ukrainian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.” In late 2014, the Ukrainian border region witnessed a conflict that lasted for four months, killing more than 2,600 people, which led to instability. and European security, which in turn affected the main markets and European stock exchanges and the rise in the price of the Russian currency, the ruble. These developments had an important role in concluding the Minsk agreements to impose a truce and bring peace to the region, and given the failure of these agreements to defuse the crisis, the Normandy Quartet was held by Germany and France, all of these agreements did not result in any firm or binding solutions for the two parties. Ukrainian lands.                                                                           

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