Years after the outbreak of the Crimean crisis, the heat of the Ukrainian file and its effects on Russian-European relations are re-emerging. With the further escalation taking place on the borders between Russia and Ukraine due to the unusual Russian military build-up, and the growing warnings of the possibility of the Russian side taking escalatory steps to change the status quo on those borders.
It is noteworthy that the Crimean crisis erupted in 2014 after gunmen in Russian military uniforms occupied important facilities in Crimea, including the Crimean parliament and two airports. Kiev accused Moscow of interfering in its internal affairs, which was denied by the Russian government, which supported Crimea’s secession from Ukraine
Dangerous indicators and messages and a willingness to respond
Russia’s movements near the Ukrainian national borders, according to Karen Donfried, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, raise a general international concern, considering that these movements carry “dangerous” signals sent by Moscow.
Donfried also indicates that the US, through NATO, will study all options on how to respond to the Russian buildup, pointing out that NATO will make a decision on the next step after consultations next week.
It’s worth mentioning that the Russian army had begun deploying about 92,000 soldiers at the Ukrainian border, amid expectations that the Russian army would start a military operation in the region at the end of January next year.
“You can expect, all options are on the table and there is a quiver that includes many different options,” Dunfried adds. She also notes that the US is closely monitoring the situation and will consult with its partners on how to stop any possible Russian action.
For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, accuses the Russian leadership of seeking pretexts to justify military intervention in his country. He points out that Moscow’s criticism of the deployment of NATO soldiers in Ukraine, and the Kremlin’s accusations that Kiev is undermining the peace process with the separatists, are one of those pretexts.
Zelensky stresses that his country’s forces are ready to confront any possible Russian military threat in the coming period. “Today there is intimidation that the war will start tomorrow, we are fully prepared for every escalation, we have to rely on ourselves, on our army, it is strong,” he adds.
It is noteworthy that Kirilo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian military intelligence, had previously revealed a scenario of a military operation that might take place in the border area between his country and Ukraine, according to what was reported by the American Military Times newspaper. He had pointed out that the attack could include air strikes and artillery shelling, followed by air and amphibious attacks, particularly on the city of Mariupol, in addition to a smaller incursion into the north through neighboring Belarus.
Crisis talk.. A new Russian scenario for dealing with Europe
Commenting on the renewed Ukrainian crisis, Muammar Saad El-Din, a researcher in international relations, believes that Russia is adopting the policy of provoking crises a new logic in dealing with Europe and NATO as a whole. He points out that the coincidence of the Ukrainian border crisis and the Russian crowds with the refugee crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, is not a coincidence as much as it is a Russian display of the winning cards in Moscow.
“Russia’s ambitions no longer stop at the limit of influence in the CIS, which formed the former Soviet Union. Today, Russia seeks to consolidate a new global situation that restores its former influence in many regions of the world, especially with the American tendency to withdraw US forces from several regions in the world, as was the case in Afghanistan,” Saad El-Din adds. He also points out that the Russians now see an opportunity to revive the legacy of the Soviet Union in West and Central Asia and regions of Eastern Europe.
In the same context, Saad El-Din considers that Russia is seeking to exploit the internal crises of the European Union countries and their inability to military confrontation, in addition to the lack of US willingness to engage in military confrontations with the Russians, explaining that Russia is looking for a new place for it on the global map.
In addition, Saad El-Din indicates that the world’s balance of power is changing with the emergence of China as a major economic power that has benefited greatly from the Corona crisis and the change in global oil prices, in return for the decline in American and European influence. He also emphasized that the world, during the next few years, would witness a great confusion in the international alliances and balances of power.
Simultaneously, Ashraf Abdel Hamid, a political analyst, emphasizes that the Russian president, after nearly 21 years in power, during which he consolidated his rule as the country’s sole leader, is currently looking for maneuvers and foreign battles with those he considers the cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Putin, who comes from an intelligence background, wants to follow policies different from those followed by his predecessors in ruling Russia, by putting pressure on the countries of Europe with several different cards and at simultaneous times, forcing the leaders of those countries to resort to Moscow to solve these problems,” he explains.
Abdul Hamid mentions the direction of Angela Merkel, the outgoing Chancellor of Germany, to the Russian president to solve the refugee crisis stranded at the Polish border. He considers that Russia has become able to manage wars and crises against the EU through its allies in Eastern Europe, with the aim of achieving Moscow’s desire to gradually regain control over the lands it sees as part of.
Abdul Hamid also points out that Russia is not only exploiting conditions in Eastern Europe but also exploiting other international crises such as the Iranian nuclear file and the war on terrorism, stressing that all these papers may increase the likelihood that the Russian president will succeed in his endeavors and achieve his goal.
In the same vein, Abdel Hamid considers that the entry of Western countries into a large-scale military confrontation with Russia may lead to devastating effects and a new world war that the West cannot bear the results of, pointing out that the closest scenario is for Western countries to resort to provoking crises inside Russia and following the method of wars intelligence, as it has less destructive and dangerous results.