Russo-Ukraine war tensions rise amid recent conflict

Kaitlyn Finchler General Assignment Editor

As of Feb. 24, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Kingdom and other European countries have conferred to decide what actions to take against Russia. 

Tension among Ukraine and Russia has been on the rise since Feb. 2014, and foreign leaders across the world are making plans. Whether part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or not, multiple countries are sending statements in support or opposition of Russia’s actions towards Ukraine.

Eli Kaul, part-time political science professor, said the tension between Russia and Ukraine is not new nor unexpected.

“The people of Ukraine do not dislike the people of Russia, the people of Russia, from my understanding, in large part don’t dislike the people of Ukraine,” Kaul said. “This is largely based on systems of government so President Putin in Russia has a distrust for democratic democracy and a distrust for democratic protests.”

Putin’s background in the KGB is likely the source of his distrust, according to Kaul. Putin’s track with democratic protests in eastern European countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Belarus shows a heavy amount of opposition, preferring an authoritative state of governing.

“He was stationed in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and that was a pretty traumatic experience for him because the central command of KGB in Moscow wasn’t providing his office, any details about what to do or any direction about what they should be doing,” Kaul said. “It was a really stressful time for them. And he’s come out and made mention of that.” 

Loyalty to heritage is a large factor into why Ukraine is so divided in current status. Western Ukraine tends to lean more democratic, while eastern Ukraine is more in-tune culturally with Russia.

 “The identity politics involved in today’s conflict emanate from a lack of recognition of Ukraine’s individual ethnic identity,” Kaul said. “Eastern Ukraine geographically has more pro-Russian sentiment, largely because a lot of their economic activity is involving Russia.” 

The start of the Ukraine divide can be recognized from the Orange Revolution in 2004, when pro-democracy leader Viktor Yuschenko took power in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

 “That’s when we start seeing a schism between East and West Ukraine and both at the ballot box, but also in terms of ideology and where Ukraine should be going,” Kaul said. “Eastern Ukraine wasn’t necessarily opposed to trade agreements with the EU, but there was a semblance that we shouldn’t abandon Russia.”

A statement from the White House on Feb. 26 said:

 “This past week, alongside our diplomatic efforts and collective work to defend our own borders and to assist the Ukrainian government and people in their fight, we, as well as our other allies and partners around the world, imposed severe measures on key Russian institutions and banks, and on the architects of this war, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.” 

The banking impositions set in are helping Ukraine more than they would to send U.S. troops over, according to Kaul. While it’s not recommended for a NATO country to attack, they still can if they decide to. 

However, Ukraine only wants financial help. Modern weaponry has been causing Russian troops to be caught off guard.

“That’s one of the reasons why they’ve been so successful, thus far. Superior to Russian forces, is because they’ve been armed with more modern technological technology in terms of weaponry, then they had prior in previous conflicts with Russia.” 

Kaitlyn Finchler is general assignment editor. Contact her at [email protected].