An invisible war is about to become very visible to the whole world11 min readReading Time: 7 minutes
It’s time to meet Ukraine
So, as you’ve probably guessed, the big political issue that’s plaguing our world today centres around Europe’s second-largest country or Ukraine. The reason it’s in the big mess that we’re about to try to make sense of is because of its borders. And because of the leaders who control the countries that border it. So, what’s the big news? What invisible war? And how crucial to world peace can this country that you’ve never heard of really be? Let’s find out.
The whole saga
Before we begin to understand what on Earth is going on, let’s dive into the history of Ukraine. And before that, let’s quickly meet Ukraine on the map.
Ukraine is positioned in the east of Europe and is the continent’s second-largest country. It shares its border with seven nations.
Yup, Ukraine is not called borderland for no reason!
And as fun and diverse as that may sound, these shared borders have landed Ukraine in quite a pickle. On the one hand, Russia and its strong allies hug Ukraine to the east. But in the West, Ukraine is neighbours with four of Russia’s light enemies(let’s just say that they have their differences), and more importantly with NATO: A military pact created to combat Russia. (More on NATO soon, but first let’s meet the man that makes this whole ordeal as frightening as it is.)
That man that you just assembled is arguably the most powerful man on the planet. He is Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. To put it lightly, you don’t want to mess with Putin. He’s been known to imprison and poison his rivals and threaten the world order several times. Read on to see what makes Putin’s position on Russia so notorious. (Hint: it may have something to do with an impending invasion. Oh! And deadly mysterious poisoning and threats of war too).
So, caught between Russia and Western Europe(the countries with which Vladimir Putin has differences), choosing friends for Ukraine has proven to be – well- difficult.
200 years ago: Russia and Ukraine are on the same side
It all began 200 years ago when Russia and Ukraine were both a part of the Russian Empire. The Russian Empire was pitted against the Ottoman and Austrian Empires in the west of Europe.
Yup, it seems as if there’s always been bad blood between the east and west of Europe.
Much like today, even back then, the east and west had differing ideas on how to live and govern. The two empires fought many bloody wars but never really changed their minds on what they believed in. Makes you wonder about how silly and useless war almost always is? 🤨
Last century: The Soviet Era. Russia and Ukraine start to split up.
Fast forward to a hundred years later, and the whole world was caught up in bloody world wars over… Oh! Who can remember? Anyway, after the two big World Wars, the East of Europe was joined into one massive powerful nation known as the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was engaged in a constant struggle for more power with the United States of America.
The European Union
On the other hand, The European Union is a political and trade-based union of 27 member nations that are located primarily in Europe. These nations have been united to trade with each other, protect the rights of their citizens and shelter themselves from policies from the east of Europe, and particularly from Russia.
For example, Russia provides 40% of Europe’s gas supplies. This means that European nations must depend on Russia to light up and warm their people’s homes. And when a European Nation causes problems for Russia, Putin has responded by cutting down or reducing the gas he provides to them. It’s no wonder western European Nations have come together to try to be self-sufficient!
Agreeing to Disagree
Why couldn’t and can’t they simply unite, you ask? Well, that’s because they had and have very different ideas on how the world should run.
Communism and Equality
The now-dissolved Soviet Union (spoiler: it breaks up) believed in Communism. Communism is a system in which the government owns everything (and not ‘greedy’ and ‘corrupt’ private corporations and companies). So, with the blessings of the government, everyone works together for an equal life. It’s a wonderful world where a carpenter and CEO are rewarded equally for their hard work.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, the government that controls everything generally becomes so powerful that anyone who may disagree with them or their ideas is in -well- deep trouble. Not to mention the many ways in which the powerful government could be greedy and corrupt as well.
Russia (the largest majority of the USSR) is no longer a communist nation. Nonetheless, the government and particularly Mr. Putin holds a lot of unchecked power. Russia is now what is known as an authoritarian nation.
Capitalism and Freedom
America and the others on its side believed and believe in people’s freedom to own what they work for. If you work hard enough, you can own as much property as you’d like. And the government gives people the right to disagree with it and even challenge it.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, private companies often get too much control and start dictating that the government do what they want in exchange for funding and money. Not to mention the inequality that could be produced from such a system.
Yup, although the two systems are wildly different, neither is perfect. But, it is worth mentioning that historically communism hasn’t had long-lasting success anywhere. Communism has fallen into corruption or authoritarianism almost every time.
So today, even though Russia is now Capitalist(like most of the West), it is plagued by authoritarianism, a system created after everything went wrong with its communist past.
Do you think Democratic, Capitalist systems like the one we have here in India and in the West are easy victims of corruption?
Woah! That was a lot. Come back soon and click on the button down below to find out about what happened when Ukraine and Russia went their separate ways.
With Excerpts From: The Guardian, The Hindu, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, The Indian Express, TRT World