On 24 February 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was undertaken. This action sparked international outrage and has resulted in the displacement of 4.1 million Ukrainians, marking it as Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War 2. However, the notion of Russian supremacy is employed as a justifying agent for the Ukraine invasion. Russia enjoys an extensive history of mighty empires such as the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, both of which retained social, military, and technological influence.
Nevertheless, the notion of Russian supremacy was directly challenged amidst the Cold War and the breaking of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Cold War was categorized as a proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union, which led to the emergence of the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan left the Soviet Union bankrupt leading to its annihilation in 1991. This directly challenged the might, integrity, and supremacy of Russia, as evident in Putin’s 2005 State of the Union address. In his words, “the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.
And for the Russian people, it was a real drama
Tens of millions of our citizens and fellow countrymen found themselves outside the Russian Federation.” Accordingly, the implication of the Soviet Union’s fall is highlighted by virtue of emphasizing lost territory and population. Thereby, justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine on grounds of regaining historical glory.
Ukraine was one of the many states that gained independence subsequent to the fall of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the strong cultural ties and associations between Russia and Ukraine remained. For instance, one of the Soviet leaders- Mikhail Gorbachev- was the son of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father, implying the cultural connections between the states. Moreover, modern-day Russia originated from Kyiv, which is the capital of modern-day Ukraine.
Hence, the Russian state has projected a refusal to accept the disconnect between the states and has invaded Ukraine as means of regaining its lost cultural territory. Putin was addressing the lost Russian territories such as Ukraine in the 2005 State of the Union address, when he stated, “tens and millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory”.
Apart from dissolving Russian territories, the West is retaining influence over Eastern Europe by selling the ideology of capitalism, democracy, and the plight to join NATO. US Secretary of State James Baker stated that “NATO would not expand one inch east of Germany”, yet the states of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have officially complied with the alliance. Expansion towards Eastern Europe and Ukraine threatens Russian national security, since, NATO’s bases will be close to the Russian border.
In addition, NATO has sponsored Russian institutional hostility in Ukraine
As Russian has been removed as the state language, western catholic culture opposing the orthodox Russian approach has been adopted, plus access to Russian news channels has been blocked. These shifts counter Russian authority in Eastern Europe along with its national security, thereby, the invasion was induced to avert the escalation of these norms.
Adding on, the 1823 Monroe Doctrine also plays an essential role in the Ukraine invasion, since it implied US sovereignty over the western hemisphere. In accordance with this, the Russian dominance over the Eastern hemisphere was depicted, along with a lack of interference in each other’s domains. Seemingly, Russia has kept its end and has averted interventions in the western hemisphere, however, the US has demonstrated aggression for preaching its ideology in Eastern Europe. Implying that, the main aggressor in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is marked as the US since Russia was compelled to take action following US involvement in shifting ideologies of Eastern Europe.
Furthermore, the Russian invasion is justified on the grounds of emerging destabilization in Eastern Europe by virtue of NATO’s expansion. Eastern Europe has fallen victim to authoritarianism and instability since NATO misacted has misacted its domain as a peacemaker, rather than a premier defense organization. Countries excluded from NATO’s membership feel shut out and nationalist sentiments are increasingly rising. To elaborate, non-NATO states induced backlash, thereby generating instability in the entire region. Hence, according to Russia, a lack of timely intervention could avert fast decisive actions for countering the insatiability of Eastern Europe.
Although Russia has effectively conveyed its message of justifying the Ukrainian invasion, this notion threatens the future of sovereignty. Lack of effective action against Russia can potentially cause China and India to follow on similar lines, thus threatening the future of Taiwan, Kashmir, and Hong Kong.
The writer is an Undergraduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.