Tensions between the U.S. and Europe with Russia are heightening over Ukraine, and the situation is totally unpredictable.
At the end of 2021, Russia amassed military on the scale of some 100,000 personnel at the Ukrainian border. Recently, these troops have repeatedly been holding military training that envisions an invasion scenario.
The latest military vehicles, which can put up bridges across rivers, and cutting-edge short-range ballistic missile launchers able to fire within range of the Ukraine capital Kiev have also reportedly finished being deployed.
NATO is proceeding with plans to dispatch some 40,000 personnel from countries including the U.S., as well as fighter aircraft, warships and other equipment to nations around Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden has urged vigilance, saying that Russia could begin military action at any time.
If an invasion does take place, its effect on the world will be immeasurable.
Many could die in the conflict. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian military has grown stronger under U.S. support. If the flames of war spread, the United States and other European countries will not be able to deny a situation requiring their military intervention.
There are also concerns it could develop into an economic conflict. The U.S. is excluding Russia from dollar trading, and reportedly is working with European countries to ensure controls on exporting cutting-edge technologies to Moscow. If Russia retaliates by cutting off natural gas supplies, the countries of Europe — which heavily rely on Russian supplies — will be thrown into difficulty.
To try to avoid this chaos, the U.S. and Russia must do their utmost to avoid a clash.
It goes without saying that the responsibility for this crisis is with Russia. Its actions flaunting military power and invading territories, as well as infringing on Ukrainian sovereignty, cannot be recognized internationally.
Although Russia argues that the U.S. and Europe are exacerbating the crisis, its logic is absurd. To ease tensions, it is indispensable that Russia first withdraw its troops.
The U.S. and Europe are likely to consider imposing sanctions with the aim of deterring an invasion. Of utmost importance is if this can be used in foreign diplomacy to find a breakthrough between the sides.
In this case, attention should be given to Russia’s feelings of being threatened by NATO’s eastward expansion. Leader-level talks between the U.S., Europe and Russia are planned. What is sought are efforts to find points of compromise through these talks.
The response to the Ukraine crisis will become a touchstone which will ultimately decide international order, where democracies and autocracies compete with each other. If it can be solved diplomatically, a road to co-existence will be open to them. If it ends in disagreement, the fissures will only deepen.