Ryan Hendrickson, Staff Writer
Many people across the planet fear a new Cold War may be upon us. The United States and Europe are accusing Russia of invading other countries to expand its power, while Russia denies the claim and accuses the West of encroaching on its sphere of influence. After being sanctioned by many other countries, Russia has responded with threats. The military alliance NATO is meeting in the United Kingdom to discuss how to stop Russian aggression.
All of this hostility began at the start of 2014 and is likely to escalate in the coming months. The tension between the East and West that now threatens the stability of the world began over the small but important region of Crimea, located on the southern coast of Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Russia sent in Special Forces and supported local rebels in a takeover of Crimea. The rest of the world was taken by surprise and did nothing to stop the invasion. A few short months later, Russia attempted to do the same thing in the eastern region of Ukraine. This time however, Ukraine fought back. The resulting conflict killed over 2,000 people and the violence shows no sign of stopping. According to NATO, which is comprised of the U.S. and much of Europe, the rebels have been successful in eastern Ukraine because Russia is providing them with an unending stream of guns, tanks and soldiers. Although Russia denies this claim, it has become an indisputable fact for the rest of the world.
With no end in sight, the leaders of Ukraine have begun discussions with Russia and the rebels over the possibility of a cease-fire. If this comes to fruition it could confirm rebel control of the eastern portion of the country, and possibly lead to the division of Ukraine. In response to all of these revelations NATO is meeting in the United Kingdom to discuss several important security issues, including the civil war in Ukraine. Although many doubt an open war between East and West, NATO is expected to announce new sanctions against Russia and the possible relocation of soldiers to areas near the Russian border. Whatever decision NATO comes to, the organization has stated that it will not back down to Russia’s aggression, and nobody expects Russia to stop either.
Although Russian hostility came as a surprise to many, the signs that it would pose a threat to regional stability have been present since 2008. In August of that year Russia invaded a region located in the country of Georgia in order to support rebels who wanted to break away from Georgia and align with Russia. At the time, the West was taken by surprise because Russia had been considered non-aggressive since the end of the Cold War in 1991. When Russia invaded Georgia the world was silent. The U.S. and Europe sat idly by and let it happen without punishment. Then, less than 10 years later, Russia carried out the same measures in Ukraine that we see today. The West was again surprised and unprepared to respond to Russian aggression. As a result, Ukraine is now locked in a bloody civil war.
Finally, the world is taking Russian aggression seriously as evidenced by recent sanctions and the NATO summit which focused on these events. However, the world should have realized that Russia would be willing to invade other countries to get what it wants. Instead, western leaders chose to ignore recent history and must now cope with the possibility of a new Cold War.