In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, after the “Revolution of Dignity.” This event was arguably the largest offensive move on Russia’s part in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict. However, as the world waits apprehensively and the West slowly begins intervening, Russia seems to have its eyes set on its next “target,” the rest of Ukraine. In what Dan Bllefsky of The New York Times calls “the largest military action in Europe since World War II,” Russia’s president, Vladmir Putin, has begun assembling thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, generating the looming threat of invasion.
Over the past week, the United States and the rest of NATO have been scrambling to deter Russia from annexing the rest of Ukraine. However, as discussions between American and Russian officials continue to fail to deescalate the situation, Russia has amassed almost 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, and may have planned an invasion involving over 175,000 troops, a force that Ukraine’s military would not be able to stop.
President Biden considered deploying thousands of U.S. troops, warships, and aircrafts to the United States’ allies in the Baltic States and throughout the rest of Eastern Europe, maintaining close proximity to the conflict in Ukraine.However, while President Biden has stated that a Russian invasion would be “the most consequential thing that’s happened in the world in terms of war and peace since World War II,” the United States is no longer considering deploying such additional troops to Ukraine. United States intelligence has also concluded that Putin has not made a decision yet about whether to invade Ukraine.
This is partially because the instability of the post-Soviet region would only be exacerbated by a Russian incursion, and such a strike could create significant changes in the hierarchical structure of Eastern European states. Russia has also created a list of large demands in negotiations, including a NATO pledge to stop eastward expansion and not admit Ukraine as a member country, suggesting that the threat of invasion may simply be a tactic to gain ground at the negotiating table.
However, the United States has shot down these demands, as Russian officials have begun emphasizing that Russia will not invade Ukraine and that the troops on the border are simply for “military exercises.” As Putin attempts to restructure the post-Soviet hierarchy of Europe by creating a Russian security zone and bringing Ukraine back under Russian influence, the United States and NATO continue pushing back.