The World Today for December 14, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

Face-Off

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE

Russia is amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian leaders say they can’t repel an invasion without American and European help. The potentially biggest battle on the continent since World War II is in the offing, Business Insider wrote. It could spill over into Europe, causing untold devastation.

Or maybe it’s just posturing that in truth reflects a weakened Russia looking for marginal gains on the world stage.

At present, Russia has around 175,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. It has established medical and fuel lines that could sustain a multi-pronged, prolonged assault following air and rocket strikes that would cripple Ukraine’s supply lines. An attack could come in January or February, the Washington Post reported.

“They will hold up as long as there are bullets,” Ukrainian General Kyrylo Budanov told the New York Times. “They’ll be able to use what they have in their hands, but believe me without delivery of reserves, there’s not an army in the world that can hold out.”

[holidaypromo]

In a recent two-hour-long phone call, American President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the US was prepared to impose economic sanctions that would be tougher than those slapped on Russia in 2014, when tensions between the two first started heating up, according to CNN. Those tough sanctions could cripple the Russian economy, at least in the short term, noted Russia Matters.

After protests and civil unrest ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory of the Crimea and started “arming and abetting separatists” in southeast Ukraine who have established new contested regions that refuse to acknowledge the authorities in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Council on Foreign Relations explained. Since then, Ukraine and Russia have been in a state of war. More than 14,000 people have died.

More bloodshed would be a tragedy. But if the conflict spreads to other parts of Europe, or especially if NATO members become embroiled in the fighting, catastrophe is possible. Millions of refugees who would likely flee the fighting would spill over into Central Europe, putting untold pressure on European politicians who are already struggling to handle migrants from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, the Daily Beast warned.

What does Putin want? He wants NATO countries to promise not to admit Ukraine to the alliance, to never deploy permanent forces or bases in Ukraine and end military exercises near Russia, the BBC reported. NATO leaders have countered that Ukraine is a sovereign country whose people have the right to make their own strategic decisions.

One wonders whether Western leaders will sacrifice the freedom of the Ukrainian people to protect the lives of their own.

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