Elizabeth Boyle, Staff
The movement of troops and rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine have recently gained a broad global audience. Currently, there are 100,000 Russian troops sitting outside the Ukrainian border, and President Joe Biden has raised concerns about an invasion in the near future.
The United Nations Security Council had a meeting on Jan. 31 to discuss the security concerns. During the meeting, the U.S. and Russia went back and forth with each country accusing the other of provoking violence and raising tensions. President Biden spoke in full support of the meeting, saying, “[the meeting] was a critical step in rallying the world to speak out in one voice.” Putin was not supportive of the meeting and described it as a “PR stunt.”
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya argued that, by the U.S. speaking out about and preparing for Russia to invade Ukraine, the U.S. caused the situation to escalate. He believed it was the U.S.’s goal to provoke Russia. Nebenzya said, “our Western colleagues are talking about the need for de-escalation. However, first and foremost, they themselves are whipping up tensions and rhetoric and are provoking escalation. The discussions about a threat of war are provocative in and of themselves.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, then accused Russia of providing false information with the goal of portraying Ukraine and the West as a threat to Russia. Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of “attempting, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack.” She then mentioned the 100,000 troops currently positioned at Ukraine’s border.
President Biden has met with Tamim Bin Hamas Al Thani, the ruling Sheikh of Qatar. They discussed global energy supplies in case Europe needs energy if supplies are damaged by a Russian attack on Ukraine and the use of natural gas as a blackmail tool against Western Europe. Russia provides 40 percent of the natural gas used in Europe. The gas is currently transported from Russia through Ukraine to the rest of the continent, and, with a potential invasion, these lines could be disrupted. This disruption could also cause the prices of energy to rise globally.
Poland has been communicating with Ukraine and trying to help Ukraine as much as possible. Polish President Andrzej Duda met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President Biden to talk about potential options in the situation. Duda offered thousands of rounds of ammunition to Ukraine for use in its defense. Ukraine has not yet replied to the offer.
Ukrainian citizens are also concerned about the potential of a Russian attack. Civilians have begun any type of training they can get in order to prepare themselves for self-defense. Many citizens are working on guerilla-style fighting techniques. The far-right group known as Azov worked with the National Corps to give military training to volunteers teaching them self-defense. The group has adopted the slogan “Do not panic, get ready!”
The commander of the Azov Battalion, Maxim Zhorn, said in an interview, “today, we are talking about the Russian Federation’s plan for a new attack against Ukrainian territories, and at the same time we are talking about the absolute ineffective actions of the [Ukrainian] government and that is why we took it upon ourselves to start training the civilian population.”
Hundreds of people showed up hoping to receive training. A similar group, run by Svetlana Putilina, trains women, predominantly Muslim women, in Kharkiv, on proper handling and use of military equipment. The women work on aiming, loading and firing various types of weapons including automatic rifles. The city of Kharkiv is only 25 miles from the border with Russia and the citizens there are concerned they could be one of the first targets.