Do you ever get so preoccupied with life that certain events just fade away and are forgotten about?
For far too long, the crisis in the Ukraine has been neglected in favor of other headlines. This is exactly the type of opportunity in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping for. It is only a matter of time before something drastic happens that could change the world virtually overnight.
Since the conflict began in early 2014 with the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, more than 1.6 million Ukrainians have become refugees in their own country, according to The New York Times. Almost 10,000 lives have been lost and almost 25,000 wounded. But why does this matter? Some may say this is just a regional conflict that doesn’t require the attention of the rest of the world. However, this is simply not the case. This has the potential of turning into a much broader conflict, due to the positioning of the Russians and their president, Vladimir Putin.
Russia has been conducting military exercises in the Baltic region since the middle of September, in what is seen as the largest military exercise since the Cold War, according to NBC News. Russia claims to only have 13,000 troops participating, but Western intelligence agencies predict that number to be much closer to 100,000. Russia may only be saber rattling as a response to U.S. sanctions because of their ongoing investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. They could however, be preparing for something much larger in the future.
Russia has had historical interest in the Ukraine beginning in the time of Peter the Great in an attempt to expand their navy and gain warm harbor ports. This was the strategy by Putin in the recent Crimean War. Yet, his greater goal of rebuilding the Russian Empire is being ignored because of to tensions in Korean Pennisula and the war against the Islamic State.
Therefore, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) needs to intervene before this problem becomes any worse. NATO holds the military power in Western Europe. Nearly every major country is a member and would be able to stand up to Russian aggression should it arise.
By admitting Ukraine into NATO, it would not only put pressure to stop the conflict there, but it would also give Russia a pause if they wished to conduct further operations against their former satellite. Russia is selling natural gas to more than 20 countries in Europe, with Germany being their biggest buyer, according to the Bloomberg Report. Germany receives almost 40 percent of their natural gas from Gazprom, a Russian-state owned natural gas corporation. Russia will not risk open war with a large proportion of its buyers if they were to be potential enemies in an armed conflict.
Without Ukraine being in this crucial alliance, Russia will be an even greater strategic position for the future. If something is not done, then Europe could see an armed conflict, to the likes of which it has not seen since the Second World War.