From Crimea To Donbas: Analyzing The Ongoing “New Cold War” Between Russia And Ukraine

“When President Putin ordered his tanks to roll into Ukraine he thought we would roll over. He was wrong,” U.S. President Joe Biden expressed while addressing in Poland on February 21, these statements came a day after Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “He [Putin] thought NATO would fracture and divide. Instead, NATO is more united, more unified than ever before.”, he further added. The comments additionally highlighted the U.S. commitment to Ukraine, which seeks to repel a renewed Russian assault that commenced shortly before the first anniversary of the conflict. The Russian aggression on Ukraine in 2022 began on February 24, when Russian forces launched a surprise attack on Ukrainian positions in the Donbas region. This followed months of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, including a build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border and a series of provocations by pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas.
The invasion quickly escalated into a full-scale war, with Russian forces pushing into Ukrainian territory and capturing several important cities and towns. The Ukrainian military, although well-equipped and well-trained, was quickly overwhelmed by the superior firepower and numbers of the Russian army.

Credits: Financial Times

The conflict has been marked by intense fighting and heavy casualties. Civilians have also been caught in the crossfire, with reports of widespread human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances. The international community has condemned the Russian invasion and imposed economic sanctions on Russia. The United States and several European countries have also provided military aid and equipment to Ukraine to help them resist the Russian advance. The tussle has also led to a major humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and needing assistance. The United Nations has called for a ceasefire and urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

Despite international pressure, the conflict has continued unabated, with both sides accusing each other of war crimes and atrocities. Russia has denied involvement in the conflict, claiming that the pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas are acting independently.

However, ample evidence suggests that Russia has provided military support to the separatists, including heavy weapons and personnel. The Ukrainian government has also accused Russia of directly intervening in the conflict, with reports of Russian troops crossing the border and engaging Ukrainian forces.
The conflict has also had significant geopolitical implications, with tensions between Russia and the West reaching new heights. The invasion has further strained relations between Russia and Ukraine and has fueled concerns about Russian aggression in the region.
The conflict has also highlighted the limits of international law in resolving disputes between states. The United Nations has been unable to broker a ceasefire, and diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have been largely unsuccessful.

Ukrainian President Zelensky (Left) shaking hand with a soldier

As of the time of writing, the conflict in Ukraine is ongoing, with no end in sight. The situation remains fluid, with frequent clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces and the possibility of further escalation always looming.

This isn’t the first time Russia has attacked Ukraine. In 2014, the Russian Federation annexed Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea previously part of Ukraine. The annexation resulted from a complex set of political, economic, and historical factors, which can be traced back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In the years following the Soviet collapse, Ukraine emerged as an independent state, but it remained closely tied to Russia through various economic, cultural, and political links. However, tensions between Russia and Ukraine increased in the 2000s, particularly as Ukraine moved closer to the European Union and NATO.
In late 2013, protests broke out in Ukraine following the government’s decision to abandon an agreement with the E.U. in favour of closer ties with Russia. The protests eventually led to the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.

Russia responded to Yanukovych’s ouster by seizing Crimea, which had a large Russian-speaking population and was home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russian forces moved into Crimea in February 2014, and a referendum was held in March in which an overwhelming majority of Crimean voters expressed support for joining the Russian Federation.
The annexation of Crimea was widely condemned by the international community, which viewed it as a violation of international law and Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The United States and the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation, which remains in place today.
Despite the international backlash, Russia has maintained its control over Crimea, and the region remains a tension between Russia and Ukraine.

On January 25, president Biden confirmed that the U.S. would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, recollecting the rapidly developing measure to supply heavy weaponry to Ukraine in its war with Russia. Biden announced just hours after Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country would send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Germany had withstood such a move, but Scholz altered his mind after under sustained stress from many Western nations backing Ukraine. Beijing has vehemently denied U.S. claims that China was pondering arming Russia in its war against Ukraine as it called for “peace-loving” countries to act to conclude the conflict. China has abstained from rebuking the war in Ukraine or calling it an “invasion”, accusing the U.S. and NATO of provoking the Kremlin. It also slammed the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Since the war started, Beijing and Moscow’s economic links have bellowed as Moscow’s connections with the West have wilted. If retaining control at home becomes more problematic for Putin, a new round of brinkmanship will look increasingly attractive. In turn, that heightens the hazards of conflict escalation. The things Putin stressed most were Ukraine sailing closer toward the E.U. and a stronger, more unified NATO; both have to arrive to pass and then some. How the war flares in 2023 would be critical for restricting the region’s future.

M1 Abrams tank
Building Hit by a Russian Missile

3 thoughts on “From Crimea To Donbas: Analyzing The Ongoing “New Cold War” Between Russia And Ukraine

  1. Thank you, Sid, for assembling these facts!
    I would just like to add some history to this. Let me say though that I am not trying to excuse Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but NATO cannot declare itself free from guilt in this war.

    When the East Germans fled over to the west, Russia abstained from sending military to prevent the reunification. In exchange, the allies promised that NATO would not expand further to the east. since then, NATO has expanded several times towards the east, which Russia sees as breach of promise. Furthermore, the NATO manouvres are always held near the Russian borders resp. near the Russian coast. Coincidence? I don’t think so! Russia has each time complained and stated that they considered this a provocation, but arrogant NATO did not care. Ukraine is suffering for this now.


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