June 20, 2024

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Tensions in Ukraine | Conflict in four words

For several weeks, Ukraine has attracted the attention of the world. Will Russian troops stationed on the border carry out a full-scale offensive? Return to the key elements at the center of the tensions.

Released at 6:00 p.m.

Johnny Goselin

Johnny Goselin


Photo by Mauricio Lima, New York Times Archives

Russian troops stand at the entrance to a Ukrainian military base after the March 2014 attack on the Crimean village of Belbek.

To understand the current situation, one has to go back to the beginning of 2014, when the popular uprising ousted the pro-Russian president from power in Ukraine. Soon after, in March, Russia annexed Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine, following a military intervention and a referendum not approved by the West and the Ukrainian government. In April, conflict erupted in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine: Russian-backed separatists claimed territory. Despite the ceasefire agreements in February 2015, the conflict has not been resolved. “I think that is one of the observations of today’s war [dans le Donbass] Russia has not achieved any of its goals: Ukraine continues to face the West, “said Alexander Lanoska, an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo. David Marbles, a professor at the University of Alberta, believes Russia is now trying to force talks on Donbass – even if it flexes its muscles. “Autonomy in Donbass is something she can look for,” he said.


Photo by Sergei Subinsky, Agencies France-Press Archives

Volodymyr Zhelensky, President of Ukraine

Having been somewhat frozen in conflict for seven years, now why an intensification? Many factors may have played into the balance, analysts believe. Tensions are high between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who banned pro-Russian television channels last year. “We see Ukraine leaning westward, signing security cooperation agreements with countries such as the United Kingdom,” Lanoska said. International relations also play a role in this situation. “I think there is an opinion from Moscow that the Biden administration is mostly focused on the Indo-Pacific region,” Lanoska says. Mr Marbles says he believes the US and its allies in Afghanistan could be weakened and that Russia may want to test alliances. “There are divisions among the European allies,” Mr. Marbles said.

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Photo by Sergei Pivovrov, Reuters

During the training of Russian tanks in the Rostov region near the border with Ukraine on Thursday

Russia is specifically demanding guarantees that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a political and military alliance formed by 30 countries, including Canada, the United States and several European countries, will not be expanded. According to the agreement, an armed attack on one member is “considered an attack on all sides”, leading to the involvement of other members. It says that if the Moscow government insists it does not want war, despite the fact that about 100,000 troops have been deployed on the Ukrainian border since the end of 2021, there is a risk that NATO will expand on its doorstep and that Ukraine is approaching. And closer to the West. In 2008, NATO announced that it was open to welcoming Georgia and Ukraine as members. However, the process is lengthy and conditional on reforms. Last April, the Ukrainian president called on his country to expedite the merger, but did not receive it. “I do not think this will happen in the next five or ten years,” says Marbles. There is no unity within NATO on Ukraine’s membership. Cooperation between NATO and Ukraine has increased since 2014, but without the limited obligations to its members.


Photo by Ephraim Lukotsky, Archives Associated Press

January 9 Demonstration in Kiev, Ukraine, against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Historical and cultural ties are strong. According to the 2001 census, 30% of Ukrainians declared Russian as their first language. Last July, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw the Russians and Ukrainians as “one people, one wholeness.” “Putin sees Ukraine as a part of the Russian world, both historically and culturally,” Marbles said. He drew the red line of what he found to be acceptable. “Russia has this historic connection with Ukraine, which is sometimes misunderstood, but also has the geopolitical sense of being a country of immense value, and if Ukraine were a member of a hostile alliance it would be utterly detrimental to Russia’s security,” Lanoska said.

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With Agencies France-Press

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  • 44 386 000,
    Number of residents of Ukraine

    Source: World Bank

    603 550 km2 ,
    Part of Ukraine

    Source: World Bank