Russia is vast. It is unimaginably massive. It is 11 timezones long & has a 36000km long coast and 17 million sqkm in area. Then, why does it still fear losing support of Ukraine and desire it’s landmass so badly?
The answer is ‘Geography’
Even though Russia has a long coast, its entire length is far high up in Northern hemisphere and hence the waters are not warm throughout the year. The coast freezes for close to half the year and that means they cant have good ports there and trade and commerce is affected.
And for trade, you need a warm water port. Where trade can happen all year and connections to the south. Here comes the answer – Ukraine. Ukraine has a coast along the Black sea and connects to the Mediterranean which opens up the entire world. Russia so dearly desires this.
After the collapse of the USSR, the ‘Stans’ – Uzbek, Kazhakh etc fell along with the Russians. But the countries close to Europe – Romania, Lithuania etc fell with the west and NATO. Ukraine got caught in the middle. Eastern part of Ukraine supported Russia & the west with EU
And Ukraine had Sevastapol, a warm water port in the region of Crimea (the small part that juts out in the south. Russia had a lease to use this warm water port & run its ships for trade. But if Ukraine went into EU or NATO, there was the risk of losing this port.
Russia still had to cross the Bosphorus channel controlled by Turkey, a NATO member, to reach the Mediterranean. Turkey allows Russian trade vessels in good faith but can stop anytime to pressure Russia. So, all the more reason for Russia to not let Ukraine go also to the west.
Ukraine has always juggled their interests with the EU & with Russia. In 2013, when it looked like they were going for EU membership, Putin had to take an action. He moved & annexed Crimea and took the port for himself. Ukraine dropped the EU plan but it had already lost Crimea
Putin actually gave an interview after annexing Crimea and said this ‘If you compress the spring all the way to it’s limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this. Now fast forward to 2021. Ukraine is fancying itself a NATO membership. If given, US can plan to cut off Russia from its trade using Ukraine, Romania and Turkey.
Action: Spring is too compressed.
Reaction: It snaps back hard. Putin has made up a story of Russians facing Genocide and invaded Ukraine to save them. Whether the EU or NATO will come to help is anyone’s guess. More likely that the spring will complete its reaction
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