Why Ukraine matters to Russia | Research News,The Indian Express
Russia’s actions in Ukraine have both current relevance and a historical precedent. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union became the dominant power in the Black Sea. However, after the collapse of the empire, Russia lost most of its territory in the region with former Soviet states slowly inching closer and closer to the West.
Moscow has denied that it is planning a military intervention, but it has presented NATO with a list of security demands including banning Ukraine and other former Soviet states from joining the organisation. Additionally, Russia has asked NATO to abandon military activity in Eastern Europe, which would mean pulling out combat units from Poland and the Baltic states. To put it simply, Russia wants NATO to return to its pre-1997 borders.
In response, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has said that Russia has “no right” to interfere while the EU, UK, and US have condemned Moscow for its aggressive posture.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine have both current relevance and a historical precedent. For centuries, Russia has viewed the Black Sea as central to its security due to its abundance of warm water ports, including Sevastopol in Crimea. Catherine the Great annexed Crimea from the Ottoman Turks in 1783 and in the words of one nationalist Russian politician, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave hope to the Russian dream of being able to wash their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Russia’s desperation for a warm water port is not unfounded. Most of its ports on the Arctic freeze for several months of the year while Vladivostok, the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean, is ice-locked for four months of the year and enclosed by the Sea of Japan which is dominated by the Japanese. By seizing Crimea, Russia got access to its only true warm water port in Sevastopol. However, access out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean is still restricted by the Montreux Convention of 1936, which gave Turkey, now a NATO member, control of the Bosporus. Russian naval ships do transit the strait but would likely be banned from doing so in event of a conflict. That in turn also explains Moscow’s recent advances towards Ankara.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union became the dominant power in the Black Sea. However, after the collapse of the empire, Russia lost most of its territory in the region with former Soviet states slowly inching closer and closer to the West. Russia had an agreement with Ukraine which allowed them to divide the Black Sea Fleet which remained docked in Sevastopol. In 2010, Kyiv renewed Moscow’s lease on the fleet until 2042 but after pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine in 2014, Putin feared it may renege on the agreement.