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02/18/2022

The Ukraine crisis: what can be done to avoid war?

The Ukraine crisis: what can be done to avoid war?

What is happening around Ukraine in recent weeks worries each of us. We know that a new war would bring new tragedies not only for the people of Ukraine, but for the whole world. From this point of view, we do not want a war, but it seems that some forces are determined to push one.

It is not right to look for the causes of the events in the framework of only the last few weeks. The process has been going on for many years, and the Ukrainian people were long ago chosen as victims.

Of course, Ukrainians have the right to freedom and Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be ensured. But is that the problem today, or was the territorial integrity of Ukraine incomplete until recent years? How did Ukraine fall into the current situation? Who dragged Ukraine into the abyss?

Today, everyone is blaming Russia and talking about Moscow’s occupation of Ukraine. I reiterate that I support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but if we look at the issue from Russia’s point of view, a completely different picture emerges.

The real causes of the crisis in Ukraine

After the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Russia’s isolation began to increase rapidly as a NATO umbrella (also known as the United States) began to form around Russia. Under the guise of NATO troops, US troops surrounded Russia on three sides, and dangerous maneuvers have been made in the Black Sea. Although Russia has patiently watched these processes over the years, the Kremlin was ready for all possible scenarios. That is why Russia has spent billions of dollars strengthening its army. Although the Russian economy was in a difficult situation and Russian citizens were living in difficult conditions, Russia continued to strengthen its army, the Kremlin having been essentially forced to do so as a condition of survival

Ukraine is a red line for Russia. The intensification of anti-Russian tendencies following the revolution in Ukraine was, in fact, a premeditated scenario artificially instigated by the United States and Western circles. Ukrainians and Russians are one nation, two states, both Slavic, with the same historical and cultural roots. The enmity between these two fraternal peoples has led to today’s tragedies.

What is happening in Ukraine today?

U.S. officials ordered most U.S. embassy personnel in Kyiv to evacuate on Feb. 12, warning that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be launched any day. President Joe Biden cautioned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would face “swift and severe” costs if an invasion took place.

Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine over the past several months. The U.S. has responded by sending several thousand troops to two of Ukraine’s neighboring countries: Poland and Romania.

In mid-January, Russia began moving troops into Belarus, a country bordering both Russia and Ukraine, in preparation for joint military exercises in February.

Putin issued various security demands to the U.S. before he drew his military forces back. Putin’s list includes a ban on Ukraine from entering NATO, and an agreement that NATO remove troops and weapons from much of Eastern Europe.

In my opinion, these are justified demands. NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders poses a serious threat to Moscow. Knowing this, the United States is deliberately taking this step in order to intensify the conflict. They plan to weaken Russia with heavy economic sanctions and involve Russia in a great war, thereby mobilizing the whole world against Russia.

The territory of Ukraine was chosen as the battlefield, and the Ukrainians will suffer the most. So far, 14,000 Ukrainians have been killed in the conflict, a number certain to increase dramatically should a conventional war begin.

NATO or Russia – interests collide in Ukraine

Under the name of NATO, the United States intends to expand its troops to Russia’s borders, push Moscow into an international diplomatic corner and divide them. The Kremlin knows this and does not want to see NATO troops on its borders. There are not only political but also economic interests at play here.

Energy security is another important part of this crisis. Moscow’s plans for Nord Stream 2 – a pipeline which is supposed to directly reach Germany through the Baltic Sea – could deny energy to Ukraine, which has already lost control of its coal deposits in the conflicted Donbas. On top of that, Ukraine could lose transit fees equivalent to approximately 4% of its GDP, or US$7 billion (£5.1 billion).

So what can Ukraine do? Should it be crushed between two great powers, or should it strike a common balance with both sides? Ukraine is located in a difficult geographical area which obliges it to pursue a balanced policy: it is not wise to be biased towards the West or Russia unilaterally. Official Kiev must put aside its personal ego, think about the future of its country and people, and choose a balanced policy, taking into account common interests.

But the Ukrainian president does not think so. Ukraine’s government has said it will apply for European Union membership in 2024, and also has ambitions to join NATO. This is the beginning of the end of Ukraine.

Only one country can avert this crisis: Turkey. Turkey is the only NATO member that has allied relations with Russia. Today, the level of cooperation and alliance between Turkey and Russia does not exist among NATO member countries. In this regard, Turkey’s mediation mission in this crisis should be taken seriously and Ankara should start negotiations with both sides.

The importance of Turkey

The goal of the United States and Europe is clear – to weaken Russia with sanctions and to involve Moscow in a meaningless war. Recent statements by Washington, ultimatums to Russia and artificial warnings of war in Ukraine are also seriously damaging Ukraine. The Ukrainian economy has already lost billions of dollars. Turkey could play a mediating role to help alleviate the situation.

In this regard, Turkey is a key country, and the recent visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Ukraine shows the seriousness of Ankara’s intentions in this matter.

There will be no war in Ukraine. Strict warnings from the US and European media on this issue are simply provocative. The Kremlin does not need and want a war in Ukraine today. That being said, Russia does not intend to leave any attack on its borders unanswered. To this end, the Russian army conducts large-scale training to prepare for possible provocations, which is the sovereign right of each country.

Ahmad Shahidov

Head of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

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