Situation Update #3: The Ukraine Crisis
Foreign Policy Brief #144 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | February 24, 2022
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On February 20, 2022, Belarus’ defense ministry announced that Russian troops which had been sent for military exercises and scheduled to return on Sunday would remain in the country indefinitely. The following day, Monday, February 21, 2022, Putin signed a presidential decree recognizing the independence of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. In his televised address, Putin described Ukraine as an integral part of Russia’s history and said eastern Ukrainian lands were ancient Russian lands.
On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, Federation Council, authorized the use of Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The Council’s decision comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin asked for the parliament’s permission to approve the use of the Russian military in the breakaway territories of Ukraine’s Donbas region. This decision marks the end of the Minsk peace deal which was signed in 2015 to bring peace to the area of Ukraine taken over by Russian separatists.
In his Monday address, Putin stated, “The Minsk agreements do not exist now, we recognized the DNR and LNR”. Condemnation from around the world swiftly followed. In response to the devolving situation, President Biden on Tuesday announced the implementation of sanctions against Russia. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that the UK would press sanctions on five Russian banks. The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz on the same day, stopped the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in response to Russia’s recognition of the two self-proclaimed republics. The U.S., UK, and EU together will impose harsh sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs, financial institutions, and its sovereign debt. The sanctions would effectively cut out the use of U.S. dollars (the global reserve currency) from the Russian institutions, as well as blocking it from trading in its debt using Western finance.
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President Biden also stated that NATO reinforcements would continue to operate in a defensive capacity, and would move additional troops to the Baltics to strengthen our Baltic Allies.
He emphasized that the United States would impose more sanctions if Russia moved forward with its invasion. Thus far only Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Syria have joined Russia in recognizing the break-away regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
As world leaders scramble to find appropriate counters to Russia’s invasion, the question now on everyone’s mind is, will Russia be content with its recognition of the regions within their current borders, or will it move to “regain” perceived lost territory of the separatist regions as a pretext for advancing further into Ukraine.