RUSSIA – UKRAINE CRISIS
• Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second largest European country covering approximately 6 lakhs square kilometres and has a population of around 4.4 crore.
• The Capital of Ukraine is Kiev.
• Currency- Ukrainial Hryvnia.
• President- Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
• Prime Minister- Mr. Denys Shmyhal
• Defence Minister- Oleksii Reznikov
• Main languages- Ukrainian and also Russian.
• The earlier name of Ukraine was Ukranian People’s Republic.
• The country was forceable reconstituted into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic which became a founding member of USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) consisting of 15 States.
• Ukraine is bordered by Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungry, Romania and Moldova.
• Area- 171 Lakh sq. kms.
• Population - 14.41 crores
• Capital - Moscow
• Currency - Russian Ruble
• President - Vladimir Putin
• Prime Minister - Mikhail Mishustin
• Defence Minister - Sergei Shoigu
On Feb 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. The tensions on Ukraine’s border with Russia are at their highest in years. Fearing a potential invasion by Russia, the US and NATO are stepping up support for Ukraine.
Russia – Ukraine Conflict Background
Post the disintegration of the Soviet Union (USSR), Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
• Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union until 1991 when it disintegrated, and Russia has tried to maintain the country in its orbit since then.
• In 2014, a separatist insurgency started in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, Donetsk Basin
• Russia further gained a maritime advantage in the region due to its invasion and annexation of Crimea.
• As a result, both the US and the EU have pledged to safeguard the integrity of Ukraine’s borders.
Importance of Ukraine to Russia
• Ukraine and Russia have shared cultural and linguistic ties for hundreds of years.
• Ukraine was the most powerful country in the Soviet Union after Russia.
• Ukraine has been a hub for commercial industries, factories and defence manufacturing.
• Ukraine also provides Russia with access to the Black Sea and crucial connectivity to the Mediterranean Sea.
Why did Ukraine not join NATO?
Although Ukraine has no membership offer from NATO, it has been closer to the alliance since its establishment in 1991. Plans for NATO membership were dropped by Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, who preferred to keep the country non-aligned.
USSR transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. The status of Crimea is disputed. Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine in February 2014 following a disputed referendum and Russia took control over Crimea in March 2014. Despite annexation of Crimea by Russia most countries recognised Crimea as a part of Ukraine.
NATO AND WARSAW PACT:
• After World War II, the whole world was divided into two ideologies – Capitalism and Communism. The Capitalist block was led by USA and the Communist block was led by erstwhile USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic).
• Capitalist block formed a military PACT known as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) which is also known as North Atlantic Alliance.
• Communist block formed military PACT known as WARSAW PACT. With the disintegration of USSR in 1991, WARSAW PACT too ceased to exist.
• North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4th , 1949 – originally by 12 countries. Now, the strength of NATO has increased to 30. Recently, Finland and Sweden have also applied for the membership of NATO.
• NATO is a system of collective security, its independent member States agree to defend each other against attack by third parties.
• President Truman of USA insisted formation of NATO after World War II.
• NATO was established in response to threat posed by Soviet Union.
Headquarter of NATO:
The Headquarter of NATO is located in Brussels (Belgium).
Secretary General of NATO:
• The Secretary General of NATO is the chief civil servant of NATO.
• The current Secretary General is Former Norwegian Prime Minister Mr. Jens Stoltenberg.
• Tenure: 4 years.
• Eligible to be re-elected.
• First Secretary General: General Hastings Ismay (Born in Nainital, India).
• The WARSAW Treaty Organization (WTO), commonly known as WARSAW PACT (W.P.) used to be a collective defence treaty signed in WARSAW (Capital of Poland) between the Soviet Union and seven other Socialists countries in May 1955 during the cold war (Cold war refers to ideological war between Capitalism and Communism).
• The WARSAW PACT was created in a reaction to formation of NATO in general and integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955. WARSAW PACT was treaty of friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance and regional economic organization for the Socialist States of Europe.
• WARSAW PACT was dominated by Soviet Union and established as a balance of power or counterweight to NATO.
• Both NATO and WARSAW PACT led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocks.
• East Germany withdrew from the PACT following German re-unification in 1990.On 25 th February 1991, at a meeting in Hungary, the PACT was declared at an end by the defence and foreign ministers of remaining member States.
• The USSR itself was disintegrated in December, 1991.
• Most of the countries of erstwhile USSR joined NATO. Ukraine too was also leading towards membership of NATO which led to Russia-Ukraine crisis.