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Putin’s Nonsense Peacekeeping Mission

The acts of the Russian Federation violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty and the Minsk agreement, to which Russia is a party.

President Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally made a move after keeping the world guessing for months. Though it is not a full-fledged invasion of the sovereign territory of Ukraine, his actions have considerably worsened the situation in Eastern Europe.

On February 21, 2022, Moscow formally recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as 'independent.' The two regions, Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic, declared independence from Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution and have been controlled by separatists since.

President Putin signed a decree while he was joined by Russia-backed separatist leaders of the two regions. After doing so, much to the international community's further dismay, President Putin ordered the deployment of Russian forces to "keep the peace" in the city of Donetsk and its surrounding areas.

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All efforts to ward off a war in the region by the many state leaders may have come to naught. World leaders have harshly condemned the move, and immediate, though limited, sanctions have been announced by the US, Britain, France, and Germany.

For now, the analysts opine that Russia's military moves in the breakaway regions do not amount to "further invasion." Such further provocation will certainly invite harsher sanctions on Moscow. While many foreign diplomatic staff and foreigners had left the country in recent weeks, it was hoped that the high-profile negotiations and meetings of heads of states with the Russian President would diffuse the crisis.

Citing history dating back to the Ottoman Empire, the Russian President claimed that "Ukraine was ancient Russian land" in a televised address. He justified his latest violation of international laws by claiming that Ukraine was becoming a "US colony with a puppet regime."

He argued that NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe and Kyiv's desire to join the organization had threatened Russia's very security. He said his country "has every right to take retaliatory measures to ensure its own security."

He went on the record saying, "(sic) all responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine."

The recognition of the Donbass is viewed as an explicit rejection of the seven-year-old ceasefire which Berlin and Paris mediated. Such a violation of Kyiv's authority is seen as Moscow's long-held intention to extend its influence and control over the breakaway republics of the late USSR. With over 190,000 Russian troops already stationed on the Ukrainian borders, many believe this is merely President Putin's first move in a more extensive military operation likely to be executed in the coming weeks.

Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, struck a defiant note while addressing the nation, stating that the country is "not afraid" and "will not concede anything to anyone." Kyiv's army is no match for its Russian counterparts. Ukraine is most definitely banking on its western allies and international partners to come to its defense.

Needless to say, the global markets have reacted to the latest moves. Global stocks fell, oil hit a seven-year high, and the rouble tumbled to new weekly lows. The energy markets are visibly shaken. Brent crude is inching close to $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Natural gas prices have also surged 6% since the news of the Russian moves broke.

Russia is the largest exporter of gas and energy to Europe. Even as the EU and the West present a united front against Moscow, the world is well aware that no nation wants to imperil its energy security and make an enemy of one of the world's most prominent energy vendors. As President Putin has demonstrated, Moscow has a long memory, and some beliefs will remain forever.

But, in the interest of energy security or other considerations, no nation should go scot-free after violating another’s sovereignty or breaking international laws. President Putin’s actions will only isolate Russia and the Russian economy. Russian society will struggle to stay afloat if the world reacts with harsh, prolonged sanctions. International organizations like the United Nations and fair-minded nations should step up to safeguard the integrity of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.


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