Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine are fueling speculation of an all-out war.
According to the Washington Examiner, a senior Russian envoy issued an “overt threat of war” if U.S. and other Western leaders proceed with plans to allow Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“Will become members in the future”
In April 2008, NATO declared that “Georgia and Ukraine will become members in the future.”
Russia subsequently invaded Georgia, thereby creating a territorial dispute and preventing that nation from entering NATO.
With an increase of troops along its border, recent developments suggest Russia is attempting a similar tactic to stop Ukraine from joining. Over the past several months, troops have increasingly been stationed at the border, but Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that they posed no threat to Ukraine.
Recent talks between the U.S., Russia, and NATO have sought a diplomatic resolution, but it appears that Putin is prepared to play hardball.
President Joe Biden has sought to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine by promising a swift response, though any such punishment seems to be limited to economic sanctions.
“If we hear no constructive reply”
This week, Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich seemed to indicate that we are on the brink of war, asserting: “Russia is a peace-loving country, but we do not need peace at any cost.”
According to Reuters, his remarks came after he told the Organization for Security and Co-operation: “If we hear no constructive reply to the proposals that have been made within sensible deadlines, and if aggressive behavior towards Russia continues, we will have to derive the corresponding conclusions and to take all necessary measures for ensuring a strategic balance and eliminating unacceptable threats to our security.”
Lukashevich later issued an ominous warning of “unpredictable consequences for European security.”
For now, there is a clear standoff between Russia, which is not backing down from its action along the Ukraine border, and the nations continuing to push for Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO. Therefore, the big question lies in whether either side will give in to the other.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey also issued a stark message demanding a response from the U.S. and NATO, declaring: “We have run out of patience. The West has been driven by hubris and has exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.”