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Motives for Militancy in the 21st Century

by Yash Asudani

The infamous invasion of Ukraine has persisted for almost a month now. Such tragic inhumanity hasn’t struck Europe since the Second World War. But, why would a prevalent power of global standard like Russia want to invade a peaceful and seemingly inconsequential chunk of land?

The origins of what Putin seeks in Ukraine today are rooted in events that occurred over 3 decades ago. Be it through the Soviet Union or the Russian empire, Ukraine and Russia are intimately connected. During the Cold War, there were two significant competing military alliances, NATO in the west and the Warsaw Pact in the east. The states conforming to the Warsaw pact, while not directly under Moscow’s sphere of influence, were puppet states that provided a buffer against any potential western military incursion to come.

However, in the 30 years since the Soviet’s collapse, the landscape has taken on a dramatically different nature. Several countries once a part of the Warsaw pact and even in the actual Soviet Union are now NATO members, pushing back Russian defences into an open plane, leaving Ukraine as a neutral zone between the modern day CSTO and NATO. Now being a part of CSTO, having control over Ukraine would leave Russia exposed only to Poland’s eastern border, even providing them with the shield of the Carpathian Mountains.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, what Russia truly desires to source from Ukraine is energy. Oil and gas exports form around 30% of her entire GDP. Most Russian gas is sold to the deep-pocketed EU, so-much-so that 35% of their supply originates in Russia. The world's 4th largest economy, Germany imports over half of their natural gas from here. An intricate structure of pipelines facilitates the exchange of funds to Moscow and gas for heating of snow struck European cities. Any hindrance in this trade would be alarming to Moscow and Ukraine is most likely to spearhead this hindrance. In the Soviet era, pipelines were laid through Ukraine as a channel to connect Europe. However, today, Ukraine demands billions of dollars of tariffs for Russia's usage of these lines, prompting them to invade.

In 2014, enough natural gas and oil reserves were discovered within the Ukrainian mainland and in her nautical Exclusive Economic zone to escalate Ukraine to the world’s 14th most dominant fossil-fuel producer. It was this discovery that instigated the Crimean annexation and the same motives follow through today.

Russian motives expand beyond speculation’s capabilities and there are far more than one outside the affected countries can decipher.


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