Ukraine’s democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych fell out of favor with the western powers when he rejected a European Union trade agreement that would have meant crushing loans. Petro Poroshenko, a former head of Ukraine’s Central Bank and billionaire, replaced him in 2014 when the US staged a coup d’état. Poroshenko favored NATO membership, made it easier for foreign corporations to access Ukrainian resources, advocated delegitimizing the Russian language, split the Russian Orthodox Church, and waged war against the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine bordering Russia. Poroshenko also closed three television stations because they were criticizing him and his policies, imprisoned the head of the opposition party who had come in second place in the election, and then imprisoned that party’s political leaders. Volodymyr Zelensky, a Ukrainian actor and comedian, defeated Poroshenko to become president of Ukraine in 2019.
Interlocking relationships among countries turned a regional dispute into World War One in 1914. NATO is an example of interlocking relationships among countries. An attack against one NATO nation is considered an attack against all. Since 2014, Russia has admonished NATO not to expand east out of fear of nuclear weapons so close to its border. But the West has ignored this request and exported military equipment to Ukraine, sticking Ukraine with a huge debt. Because Zelensky has applied for EU membership with the blessing of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, Putin saw that Russia had a narrow window to counter this threat of nuclear weapons on its doorstep. Once Ukraine becomes an official member of NATO, Russia would have to go to war against all 30 NATO countries if it invaded Ukraine.
There are five reasons Russia invaded Ukraine. The first reason is Russia’s attempt to avoid a world war that could turn nuclear because of the eastward expansion of NATO and the neocons in Washington. Russia cannot tolerate nuclear weapons so close to its border, especially since the neocons are pro-war. A second reason was to aid the Dunbass regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in their struggle against Ukraine’s repression, even to the point of criminalizing the Russian language. The Donbas share the same customs, watch the same television programs, and speak Russian. Poroshenko committed war crimes in the region and Ukraine’s war against the Donbas continues to this day. A third reason is Russia’s attempt to enforce the Minsk agreements. Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed to a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014 and again in 2015. Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid, and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine gathered there at the same time and issued a declaration of support for the deal. Ukraine has ignored the agreements. A fourth reason is a water shortage in Crimea. Ukraine cut off the freshwater supply to Crimea by damming a canal that had supplied 85% of the peninsula’s needs before Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. And, of course, a fifth reason is to restore Ukraine to a neutral country as it was before the 2014 coup by western powers.
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