With reports of Russian tanks moving through Ukrainian streets today, many people in the United States are perplexed about how things have come to this point.
A political science professor from the University of Tennessee shared his thoughts with WATE 6 about what the average citizen should know about the invasion and how it came to be at this stage.
Associate Professor Gary Uzonyi deconstructs the disagreement and examines the sanctions that have been imposed so far in the process.
When did the conflict between Ukraine and Russia begin?
Beginning in the early 1990s, when Ukraine acquired independence from the former Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine erupted.
In 2014, the Ukrainian people demonstrated against their pro-Russian president, forcing him to step down and replace a pro-Western leader.
Russia began assisting separatist movements in Ukraine, providing financial assistance and fighting alongside southeastern forces demanding independence from Ukraine.
Immediately following his election as president of Ukraine in 2019, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the West. Russia attempted to impose separatist terms on Ukraine rather than agreeing with Russia to comply with them. As a result, he has witnessed increased tension on the Russian side.
Putin further asserts that Ukraine inherited Russia’s historic territory following the collapse of the Soviet Union and that the West is using this to control Russia.
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Will gas prices continue to rise?
President Joe Biden cautioned that gas prices could climb significantly if the invasion. Russia is the world’s biggest crude oil and natural gas maker. By their very nature, changes in that supply will cause the supply-and-demand aspect of the sector to respond.
According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas was $3.572 on Feb. 25, increasing approximately 24 cents a gallon from one month earlier and 3 cents a gallon from the day before.
Gas for a gallon in Tennessee is currently $3.365, around 32 cents more expensive than a month ago but just 6 cents more expensive than before the Russians invaded Ukraine. However, it may depend on the day you fill the tank.
The Baker Hughes Rig Count is one indicator to keep an eye on in this regard. Since 1944, the firm has kept track of many oil rigs.
Since the previous week, five oil rigs had been put into service in the United States, according to the latest available data. In the United States, 650 drilling rigs are in operation, with 522 drilling for oil.
Another 12 are now at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, working. More rigs mean more oil on the market, which will assist in keeping prices from rising as a result of a lack of supply.
What exactly is NATO’s function?
As a collective defense against the Soviet Union and its Eastern allies during the Cold War, NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was founded by a group of Western countries during the Cold War.
The group has been increasing in the East, and new members must adhere to the rule of law and be democratically elected. Everyone who is already a member of the organization must accept all new candidates.
As other countries expressed interest in becoming members of this group, Russia’s fears intensified. According to Uzonyi, there is concern that NATO is attempting to construct a ‘curtain or wall’ around Russia, thereby boxing them in.
A significant portion of this conflict revolves around determining the future of NATO. Although Ukraine is not a part of NATO, the alliance has pledged to defend the country’s territory against Russian aggression. One of Russia’s objectives is to keep Ukraine out of the NATO alliance.
Why is the United States involved?
President Joe Biden is engaging in diplomacy with Russia, which has resulted in Russian forces being pushed back.
A series of injunctions against the United States, which the Russian government considers to be legally binding security guarantees, were issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It became necessary for them to withdraw their soldiers.
These injunctions demand that Ukraine never become a member of NATO and that NATO never expand its territory to the east. President Biden responded with a resounding nay.
United States officials described the Russian invasion as “not just a breach of international law and Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, but it’s also a threat to international peace and security in general and the security of European countries specifically,” said Uzonyi.
Uzonyi outlines the agreement between NATO countries and that if one country is attacked, it is considered an attack on all of them. Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is included in the organization’s sphere of influence and is surrounded by NATO countries.
As a result, the surrounding nations have invoked Article 4 of NATO, which states that the alliance as a whole must convene and consult on how to deal with the looming threat.
NATO’s Article 4 states that “the Parties will consult together whenever the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any Party is believed to be threatened by any of them.” According to the NATO treaty, the territorial integrity, political independence, and security of any party are all threatened by one another.
What is the definition of a sanction?
According to Uzonyi, a sanction is when a government punishes a second country for successfully persuading them to modify their behavior. It is a tactic of “coercive diplomacy,” and its purpose is to impose substantial costs on the behavior taking place in the hopes of bringing it to a halt.
According to Uzonyi, the majority of sanctions are cost-effective. According to the State Department, the United States has concentrated its sanctions on Russian financial institutions to deter Putin from seeking funds from the western world.
The United States will not enable Russia to trade its debt on Western stock exchanges, nor will it facilitate the financing of Russian military programs.
In contrast to the United States, which has concentrated its sanctions on the economy, the United Kingdom has proposed that its sanctions prohibit Russian oligarchs from sending their families to the UK.
Tennessee legislators discuss the Russian war on Ukraine.
Global leaders and local lawmakers shared their reactions to Russia’s anticipated attack on Ukraine on Thursday, which coincided with President Vladimir Putin’s rejection of international condemnation and sanctions. As Russian troops entered Ukraine, reactions were shared on social media and official statements.
According to the Associated Press, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has issued a stern warning to other countries not to interfere in what he has announced as a military operation in Ukraine.
He stated that “whoever attempts to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must understand that the Russian response will be immediate and will result in consequences you have never seen before in history.”
Members of the Tennessee legislature issued remarks on Thursday criticizing the invasion.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee)
The people of Ukraine are in our thoughts and prayers as they defend themselves against Putin’s attempt to restore the old Soviet Union.
Biden must take a position against Putin and impose heavy penalties against Russia as soon as possible, beginning with the dismantling of the SWIFT banking system. “The United States of America stands with Ukraine.”
Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee)
After the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan and other foreign policy disasters, Vladimir Putin was given the go-ahead to attack Ukraine’s Donbas region.”
President Biden’s response has been predictable: he implements ineffective financial penalties against Russian oligarchs and minor institutions to demonstrate weakness.
As an alternative, the Biden administration could hit Russia’s economy where it hurts by reversing its woke fossil fuels strategy and transforming the country into an energy exporter to European markets.”
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee)
In the wee hours of last night, the world watched Vladimir Putin’s aggression as Russian military forces started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
We must work with our allies and partners in NATO, Europe, and worldwide to impose the harshest penalties possible on Putin and those who support his totalitarian regime.
The time has come for the United States to impose strong and swiftly crippling sanctions against Russia’s oil and natural gas production, as well as access to international financial markets.
The United States and our allies must do everything they can to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, including providing military and financial assistance, and to guarantee that Putin understands that his criminal aggression will not be tolerated.”