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RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE: WHO IS SUPPORTING PUTIN?
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rattled world markets and triggered fears of a large-scale war that may involve multiple nations, here is a look at which country stands where and what lies ahead in this fast-escalating conflict
Russia launched a wide-scale, pre-dawn military assault against Ukraine on Thursday. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s war on what was a constituent of the Russia-led Soviet Union before its collapse in 1991 is his pushback against the US-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that’s expanded rapidly in his neighbourhood in East Europe.
Announcing “military operations to demilitarise” his neighbour, Putin warned in a televised address that those “interfering” would face never-before consequences. Expectedly, Western powers, including the US and the UK, warned that the world would hold Russia accountable. While some allies have backed Russia, others have adopted a more cautious approach.
As the invasion rattled world markets and triggered fears of a large-scale war that may involve multiple nations, here is a look at which country stands where and what lies ahead in this fast-escalating conflict.
As NATO’s most powerful member, the US holds the key to what happens next and how it happens. The US has rejected Russia’s demand that Ukraine must not become a NATO member.
Warning of swift and severe consequences, the US has ramped up weapons shipments to Kyiv and troops presence in the neighbourhood. US President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky soon after Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine.
Biden promised that the US and its allies “will hold Russia accountable”. For now, more sanctions against Russia are expected.
The UK backs Ukraine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in February 2022 and warned the Russians against the human cost of war. The UK also sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and Johnson said he was planning to deploy fighter jets and warships to the region.
Soon after the invasion, Johnson said he was appalled by the “horrific events” in Ukraine. “President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The UK and our allies will respond decisively.”
Johnson has announced sanctions on some Putin aides and Russian banks but the UK is also a haven for Russian oligarchs, and this may impact the British government’s approach in the current crisis.
Germany’s is a more cautious approach because Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats have traditionally promoted rapprochement with Russia. Europe’s largest economy has expanded trade and energy ties with Moscow in recent years.
Germany has now halted work on one pipeline linking Russia to Germany. After the invasion of Ukraine, there is a broader rethink in Europe’s largest economy about its dependence on Russian gas.
European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen has denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine and vowed to hold the country accountable.
“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” EU chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
“We will hold the Kremlin accountable.”
China has opposed “illegal” sanctions on Russia and blamed the US for “escalating tensions” over Ukraine, while reiterating calls for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Actually, China looks to strike a balance between Russia and the West.
Endorsing the invasion will worsen its ties with Western countries, but it also wants to boost its growing relationship with Russia. China has asked all parties to exercise restraint.
It has also told the US that the crisis should be solved through negotiation, while recognising Russia’s “legitimate security concerns”.
China backs Russia in its opposition to NATO’s opposition as both countries strive to counter American influence.
India has called for immediate de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine and cautioned that the situation is in danger of spiralling into a major crisis. India has emphasised sustained and focused diplomacy to address all issues concerning the situation.
India has also expressed its deep concern over the developments, which may well undermine the region’s peace and security if not handled carefully.
India’s concern also stems from the fact that about 20,000 Indian nationals, including students, are stuck across Ukraine and in its border areas.
“We are facilitating the return of all Indian nationals, including Indian students, as required,” a government official said.
Russia has said the Indian stance at the UN Security Council is fully reflecting the merit of the special and privileged strategic partnership between both nations.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with Putin in Moscow as Russia invaded Ukraine has evoked strong global reactions. The US has said it is the responsibility of every “responsible” country to voice objection to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The US has communicated to Pakistan its position on the situation in Ukraine and efforts to pursue diplomacy over war. Khan discussed with Putin issues, including economic and regional security cooperation and their mutual concerns in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Khan is the first foreign leader to meet Putin after Russian troops entered eastern Ukraine. Khan’s visit to Moscow is the first by a Pakistani Prime Minister in 23 years and is an implicit endorsement of the Russian leader’s actions.
ERSTWHILE SOVIET CONSTITUENTS
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia that were part of the Soviet Union became NATO members in 2004. They’re naturally opposing Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Belgium has, in fact, called Russia’s attack the darkest hour in Europe’s history since WW II.
The Czech Republic has called the Russian attack a barbaric act of aggression and promised to respond together with its allies.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has sought close ties with Putin but also said Ukraine’s “independence and viability are of direct Hungarian interest.
Poland has pledged support against “Russian neo-imperialism”, promising to help Ukraine with fuel, weapons, and humanitarian and economic aid. Poland is hosting US troops.
SYRIA, VENEZUELA AND UKRAINIAN ALLIES OF RUSSIA
Syria’s government has expressed support for Russia. Since the civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Putin has been a crucial ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and this has upset the West.
Venezuela has also emerged as an important ally for Putin in the region. Russia also has two minor allies in eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. They are two breakaway states in Ukraine, only recognised by Russia.