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Russia-Ukraine

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: The historical context

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The decision made by President Putin to invade Ukraine has taken the world by surprise. Despite weeks of warning by Western intelligence, Europe has not seen an invasion of this scale since the Second World War. This article seeks to elaborate on the historical context between Russia and Ukraine and how this may have shaped the current situation of war that the two countries find themselves in. 

Ukraine and Russia have very deep historical ties that find their roots in the Kievan Rus’ from the 800s-1200s CE. These ancient lands hosted the ancestors of what are today Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians. This is significant, for it plays into the notion of Russian unity which President Putin alluded to in his article entitled ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’, published in July 2021. Here Putin claims that ‘the throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus’, and that despite the decline of the Kievan Rus’, ‘both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory’. Although it is true that these peoples hold a common heritage, history has also shown that Ukrainians and Russians developed differing languages and cultures in the years following the Kievan Rus’. Indeed, Ukraine over the centuries was controlled by various powers and empires, including the Poles, the Austrian Habsburgs, and finally the Russians who controlled Eastern Ukraine in the eighteenth century. Thus, Ukraine has both a close but contentious relationship with Russia. Although Ukraine enjoyed ‘a brief spell of independence’ following the First World War, this soon gave way to Soviet rule in the 1920s.


Soviet Rule 

As Ukraine began to immerse itself into the Soviet Union, they began to cede more power to Moscow over competencies such as foreign trade and foreign policy. The Soviets introduced a policy of ‘indigenization’ alongside with Lenin’s New Economic Policy in the 1920s which ‘which partially restored private enterprise in industry and trade and replaced grain requisitions with a fixed tax and the right to dispose of the surplus on the free market.’ This helped to improve both Ukraine’s cultural identity and its economic position. In 1941, Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union was drawn into the Second World War following Operation Barbarossa and Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, a war in which 6.85 million Ukrainians sadly died. 

Soviet rule lasted until the breakup of the USSR in 1991, when Ukraine gained legitimacy for independence through a plebiscite (following the declaration of independence by the Ukrainian SSR in 1990). Referenced by Putin in a recent speech where he claimed that Ukrainian sovereignty was illegitimate and that the former Soviet Republics should have never broken up, this moment also marks a significant shift in the regional geopolitics of Eastern Europe, and may be a factor contributing to the current Russo-Ukrainian War. 

Modern Day 

Ukraine following independence has also been through a tumultuous history. Although it was seen widely in the West as a beacon of democracy in a post Cold War Europe, Ukraine has always seen a political divide between the pro-Russian forces, mostly confined in the east of the country, and the pro-European political forces in the West. This was seen through the changing of hands of political power between the pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovych in 2014 when he refused to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement in favour of an agreement which aligned to a greater extent with Russia. Following this, Yanukovych was ousted in a 2014 revolution, and following elections, was replaced by Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko was in turn defeated in the 2019 elections by actor turned presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a landslide defeat. Indeed, the 2014 revolution also coincided with the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, and the creation of the self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the east of the country. In 2022, President Putin acknowledged the independence of the republics and used this as a means through which to invade the whole of Ukraine. This leads up to the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War which at the time of writing this article, is still ongoing.  

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Geopolitics

Climate scientist condemns “political sabre-rattling” over nuclear weapons

Better leadership could thwart the risk of nuclear war, Dr Stuart Parkinson from an independent organisation: ‘Scientists for Global Responsibility’ tells us.

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Concerns are mounting that the world could see a nuclear war erupt. As the war in Ukraine intensifies, Chinese President Ji Xinping warned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin not to resort to nuclear weapons, as he urged the international community to take steps to prevent a “nuclear crisis.”

A study conducted by Rutgers University warned a nuclear war could lead to global famine, starving five billion people in its wake. Analyst News spoke to climate scientist, Dr Stuart Parkinson SGR – from an independent organisation: ‘Scientists for Global Responsibility’ – to understand its tangible risks and how the world could thwart it.

What does the study say?

Commenting on the purpose of the study, Dr Parkinson tells us: “This latest study backs up the findings of numerous previous studies published since 2007 which have used the latest climate models to understand the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts of regional and global nuclear wars. These studies build upon early research in this field – carried out in the late 1980s – which first alerted the world to the threat of nuclear winter and helped end the Cold War.”

It used the latest climate models to understand the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts of regional and global nuclear wars.

But on how the spread of highly radioactive material could affect humans, he goes on to say:

“The quality of life in these circumstances would be reduced substantially leading to poor air quality in bombed-out regions. Electromagnetic pulses from nuclear explosions would fry electronic equipment within a few kilometres of each bomb site which would impact phones, internet, medical equipment, cars etc and would cease to work in those areas. The ozone layer protecting the Earth’s surface from damaging ultraviolet radiation would also be severely damaged allowing for ecosystems to collapse. In short, we would be looking at the potential collapse of human civilization.”

In May, the UN warned the world was at the brink of total societal collapse if urgent action was not taken to de-escalate the risk of natural disasters. Human activities, it stated, were interfering with planetary boundaries. These are systems that allow for the safe operation and development of the human race over generations.

Future of Life organisation provides much-needed hope in ensuring that such a life-destructing event does not occur again. The organisation’s concerns lay in making sure that advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biotechnology along with nuclear weapons do not have detrimental effects on the world.

With influence across the United Nations, and European Union as well as other organisations in the United States including federal agencies, Congress, security agencies, and think tanks, Future of Life has supported the creation of policies that minimise the risk advanced technologies may pose to human life. The non-profit, independent organisation also provides grants for and conducts ethical research around AI.

A report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute earlier this year found that increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine have put countries on high alert. The worldwide arsenal of nuclear weapons since the cold war, it warned, is expected to drastically rise in the next few years.

Weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said he thinks not much is being done by the British government to prevent the escalation of a nuclear war. We asked Dr Parkinson what Britain and the West can do to prevent its escalation.

“The first step could be to end the political sabre-rattling about nuclear weapons and the institution of ‘no first use’ policies,” he said, citing a pledge by nuclear powers to formally refrain from the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

He further said that countries should take nuclear weapons off the short notice ‘launch on warning’ status as well as remove US nuclear weapons from European soil.

He added that the US and Russia could extend the START treaty to cover a longer time period, as well as to make deeper warhead cuts with more nations following suit. They could also engage with the NPT, which stands for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, disarmament commitments in a serious manner along with Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) negotiations.

But whether such treaties have been respected in recent times is a point in question. Amid the advancement of Russian troops into Ukraine, unprecedented attacks on civilian nuclear facilities like the Zaporizhzhia power station, have reinforced the need for stronger international agreements in the event of a nuclear war. On whether such treaties have been effective in limiting the threat of such a war breaking out, Dr Parkinson stated:

“Currently, there are only 9 nuclear weapons states which are markedly less than the number predicted to be when the NPT was agreed. So it has significantly limited the threat. But nations are failing to implement Article 6 on disarmament and hence there is a need for the TPNW.” – The NPT stands for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

According to him, some of the legal instruments and frameworks that could be used to limit the threat include reinstating the treaties which have been abandoned or curtailed which include INF, ABM, and the Open Skies Treaty. Additional legal instruments which could be agreed upon include a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and the TPNW must be fully implemented to remove the threat of nuclear war.

Which countries would see the worst if a nuclear war were to occur?

He said that at first the nations which were hit by nuclear weapons would be hit severely and then their neighbours and finally the other most vulnerable nations around the world will also be able to feel the impact.

Last month, President Joe Biden pledged that the US “prepared to use all elements of its national power” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But what could the US itself do?

Dr Parkinson told us he thinks the country “should return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and fully implement the agreement as this would greatly reduce the risks of nuclear programmes in Iran”.

The JCPOA, dubbed Iran nuclear deal, was an agreement signed between Iran and some world powers, including the US. The aim of the accord was to ward off a revival of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which could have seen potential conflict between it and its regional opponents.

The agreement was called off under the Trump administration but there have been indications from Biden to revive it whilst ensuring the security of Israel. This month, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian called on the US to show “goodwill and genuine resolve” in talks to bring back the agreement.

Is it realistic to think countries would pay heed?

The UN Secretary-General called for countries with nuclear weapons to commit to “no-first-use” of them, but how likely is it that nations will listen?

“It’s a reasonable ask, but national leaders are not hearing it at the moment. We need more mass protests in support of nuclear de-escalation/ disarmament,” said Dr Parkinson.

Given the current political climate, “it was very difficult” that we could see a world free of nuclear weapons, stated Dr Parkinson. But changes in leadership could bring much-needed “rapid political change.” He pointed to Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s to illustrate how a change in those at the top could “profoundly change the debate.”


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Geopolitics

7 Key points from Putin’s annexation speech

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Vladimir Putin 2022 Annexation Speech

At a ceremony in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s St George Hall, Russian President Vladimir Putin, signed the treaties to annex the Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, claiming that millions of people have, “made their unequivocal choice” to join Russia and “have become our citizens, forever.”

His subsequent speech revealed deep distrust of the west, its culture and hegemony. Invading Ukraine wasn’t about territory alone, it was about a clash of cultures and civilisations, and standing up to a West which was bent upon “enslaving” the world. Here are 7 key points from the speech which will give you an insight into the mind of the Russian premier. 

1. Regret over the collapse of the Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, those in power didn’t ask, “ordinary citizens what they wanted, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their homeland”, Putin complained. “This tore apart and dismembered our national community and triggered a national catastrophe.”

He said that decision, “destroyed our great country” and while recreating it isn’t his ambition he claims, there is a determination by millions linked by “culture, religion, tradition, and language”, who consider themselves part of Russia and want to “return to their true historical homeland.” 

Russian is widely spoken in Eastern parts of Ukraine including the newly annexed areas and is the most common language. People there tend to view Russia and its past in a more positive light. But in 2018 the Ukrainian government made it compulsory to use Ukrainian in all media, schools and public spaces, whilst previously –  since 2012 Russianwas permitted to be a regional language in regions where at least 10% of the population spoke it. However, while Putin claimed the majority of people in Eastern Ukraine voted to join Russia, in the referendum which the West described as a “sham”, polls from previous years show that a very low number of people wanted to join Russia. International observers were present at the referendum but there are concerns that they were biased towards Russia. As with anything during such conflicts, nothing is clear. 

2. Anger over Western policies 

President Putin blamed the West for their continuing hostility towards Russia. He said, “the West continued and continues looking for another chance to strike a blow at us, to weaken and break up Russia, which they have always dreamed about, to divide our state and set our peoples against each other, and to condemn them to poverty and extinction. They cannot rest easy knowing that there is such a great country with this huge territory in the world, with its natural wealth, resources and people who cannot and will not do someone else’s bidding.”

President Putin emphasised that the West wants to control every other country. He said, “in certain countries, the ruling elites voluntarily agree to do this, voluntarily agree to become vassals; others are bribed or intimidated. And if this does not work, they destroy entire states, leaving behind humanitarian disasters, devastation, ruins, millions of wrecked and mangled human lives, terrorist enclaves, social disaster zones, protectorates, colonies and semi-colonies. They don’t care. All they care about is their own benefit.” 

3. Russian nationalism

President Putin considers the four regions annexed as part of Russia, taken by force, by Ukraine in 2014. People of these regions were Russian and have decided to remain with Russia and their choice must be respected. 

President Putin made it clear that this is not just a plea to uphold justice and respect the choice of people of the regions, rather, “we will defend our land with all the forces and resources we have, and we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people. This is the great liberating mission of our nation.” Not only defence, Russia will rebuild infrastructure of new regions.

A question that must be in every Russian mind is that there has been a significant loss of lives of Russian soldiers, was it worth it? President Putin acknowledged the sacrifice of soldiers and paid respect with a minute of silence. He, also explained the reason for who he considers the enemy of Russia.

4. Western hegemony seen as a threat 

President Putin presented the West as the real enemy of Russia. Expansion of NATO is seen as a threat which the West has been deceitfully dealing with Russia and the world.

“The West is ready to cross every line to preserve the neo-colonial system which allows it to live off the world, to plunder it thanks to the domination of the dollar and technology, to collect an actual tribute from humanity, to extract its primary source of unearned prosperity, the rent paid to the hegemon.” 

President Putin said that the domination of the United States is unjustly enforced on the world for currency or technology. Like if any country wants to trade in currency other than US dollars or develop a technology like China developed 5G communication equipment before the US, then unjust sanctions on trade or technology are placed.

There is no free competition of trade and technology in the world, according to President Putin, he said that the West shows aggression towards independent states. “It is critically important for them to force all countries to surrender their sovereignty to the United States.”

5. Crimes of the West

President Putin mentioned the crimes of the West and said that the Western elites are blaming Russia whereas the West is responsible for many crimes like, “the worldwide slave trade, the genocide of Indian tribes in America, the plunder of India and Africa, the wars of England and France against China, as a result of which it was forced to open its ports to the opium trade. What they did was get entire nations hooked on drugs and purposefully exterminated entire ethnic groups for the sake of grabbing land and resources, hunting people like animals”. He added “this is contrary to human nature, truth, freedom and justice”.

Crimes of the US include using nuclear weapons twice on Japanese cities. Being the only country that used nuclear weapons, they created a precedent. President Putin also mentioned the destruction during WWII as crimes of the West. 

6. “Satanism”, morality & traditional values 

President Putin called the attitude of the West towards the world against standard human morality and traditional values, rather it is “religion in reverse, pure Satanism”.

He quoted Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And said that the poisonous fruits of actions of the West can be observed in Russia and other countries including the countries in the West. 

Addressing all citizens of Russia, Putin asked, “do we want to have here, in our country, in Russia, “parent number one, parent number two and parent number three (they have completely lost it!) instead of mother and father? Do we want our schools to impose on our children, from their earliest days in school, perversions that lead to degradation and extinction? Do we want to drum into their heads the ideas that certain other genders exist along with women and men and to offer them gender reassignment surgery? Is that what we want for our country and our children? This is all unacceptable to us. We have a different future of our own.”

7. Fighting for Russian survival 

Putin quoted the words of Ivan Ilyin calling him a true patriot “If I consider Russia my Motherland, that means that I love as a Russian, contemplate and think, sing and speak as a Russian; that I believe in the spiritual strength of the Russian people. Its spirit is my spirit; its destiny is my destiny; its suffering is my grief; and its prosperity is my joy.”

Mentioning the thousand years of Russian statehood, he said “today, we are making this choice; the citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions have made this choice. They made the choice to be with their people, to be with their Motherland, to share in its destiny, and to be victorious together with it. The truth is with us, and behind us is Russia!”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russia-Ukraine

Russia cuts Germany’s Gas Supply causing Prices to Soar 

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  • Over the course of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Russia began to slowly cut off Germany’s gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 
  • Before the war, over half of Germany’s gas came from Russia. By the end of June it was reduced to a quarter of its normal captivity, and now it operates at less than a fifth of it. 
  • Russia’s energy firm Gazprom has stated that this need to cut off Germany’s gas supply was due to maintenance work on a turbine that is needed. Critics have disagreed, claiming that Russia is using it’s gas as a ploy to cause terror to Europe. 
  • The cut of Gas supply to Germany and other central European countries has caused gas prices to rise almost 2%, causing the trade to close to a record high similar to that of when Russia invaded Ukraine. 
  • While Germany scrambles to find a solution to this, Poland states it will be fully independent from Russia by the end of the year in order to avoid blackmail from Russia.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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