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Mauricio Valentinoti Palacios S.

The Powder Keg Representing Russia and Ukraine

- Russia and Ukraine: a dangerous conflict that threatens world peace and Russia's political status quo.

The Powder Keg Representing Russia and Ukraine

At present, the Russia-Ukraine border spans approximately 2,295 kilometers, of which 1,974 kilometers are land and 321 kilometers are sea. But recently, the border is also practically delimited by 150,000 Russian soldiers and a significantly worrying military apparatus, according to the latest European Union report on the situation in that area. A movement that expresses the vital importance of this space for the Russian government and that implies, for the whole world, a possible accumulation of gunpowder that could explode at any moment. Today, the situation between Ukraine and Russia may be the most dangerous conflict this year or even a decade. Because of the implications that an escalation could represent for world peace.

But, first of all, it is important to remember that this conflict is not new and its origins go back further than the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In fact, the so-called "Ukrainian question" (mentioned in this way in the Russian media) means for Moscow a vehicle to reinforce its long-term geopolitical strategy. In other words, the fact that Russia appears to be forcing tension with Ukraine is not an isolated event, it is due to its survival guide cleverly articulated by current President Vladimir Putin.

When the Soviet Union fell, the Russian Federation lost 24% of its territory, half of its population and 41% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A clear attack on the relevance that Moscow had historically had during the Cold War. Of such a caliber that few nations would have recovered from such a blow. Not to mention the loss of kyiv (in Ukraine), the so-called “true capital” where the Rus people originated.

Despite the above, Russia has managed to consolidate its image again before a stunned and hyper-critical world at times. The prestige of the Russians (and fear to a certain extent) has grown because they have known how to use their "limited" economic and military resources efficiently. So they have been able to carry out Putin's pragmatic agenda to reposition Russia as a world power despite its limitations. This agenda has three permanent objectives:

  1. the preservation of status as a global power;
  2. primacy in the post-Soviet space and deterrence of NATO expansion; and
  3. the use of various tools such as military coercion.

By what is understood the coercive military measures that Russia has applied to Ukraine, as a way to ensure its main objectives. Through securing its geographical borders and gaining worldwide recognition as a relevant power in delicate international affairs. In addition to distracting public opinion from the growing civil demonstrations against the current regime. Since Moscow has not been able to deter such protests internally, the fact of having a foreign enemy undoubtedly makes it easier to direct the spotlight to other issues less close to the Kremlin.

With the Ukrainian government placed between a rock and a hard place, the European powers are still reluctant to respond assertively. This is due to the alarm generated by Russia's recent movements. Although it is not evident that a large-scale invasion would be carried out, there is a significant degree of concern about the increase in tension between the two countries. The fact that the Kremlin has decided to move troop and tank reserves from as far away as Siberia warrants the level of spending they are willing to lose to draw their trenches. This is in addition to his influence in the acts that led to the loss of thirteen thousand human lives since the conflict broke out with the annexation of Crimea. Despite the most potent artillery exchange being just over four years ago, relations have been far from completely calming down. In fact, this time tanks and artillery were not enough, they also mobilized Su-30 fighter planes and Su-34 bombers. Military instruments in an unprecedented amount in the conflict and that are not intended solely for a possible confrontation with the Ukrainian air force (which is smaller), but with the air reinforcements that a possible European or American support would bring.

The key to understanding the seriousness of the matter then lies in the material capacities that Russia boasts on the edge of its border. Their intention is neither solely nor primarily an incursion into the Ukraine. In fact, it may never have been your goal to begin with. Instead, it appears their purpose is to put pressure on NATO to stop the military exercises they have been conducting. Moreover, because the United States (its historical arch-rival in speech) has chosen to become more involved in NATO politics and financing than in the previous presidential administration.

Because the Kremlin knows that if Ukraine manages to get the support of the European Union (and therefore NATO), its borders will be in imminent danger. On the one hand, due to the military power of the Western countries, in fact the United States has already placed two formidable aircraft carriers in the Black Sea in collaboration with the Turkish navy. And on the other, because within the battle of ideas, the Russian political worldview is based on a centrist precept that is against the neoliberal-capitalist configuration of Western countries. The latter is a vision of life longed for by people who continue to feel oppressed by the yoke of the regime. Proof of this are the Russian protests in favor of the release of Navalny (Putin's political opponent). However, 42% of the protesters had never demonstrated before and this is not due to political support for Navalny per se, but to a general social rejection of the Russian government's restrictions on freedom of expression and even the use from the internet.

If the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalates, it would pose a grave danger to regional and global stability. Because the series of repercussions that it would bring would not only threaten the territorial integrity of Ukraine or the Russian military "pride". Rather, it would jeopardize Russia's political status quo at the domestic level. The Kremlin will not be willing to lose its position of power at home and may be willing to wage a war so big that it leaves no room for the media to cover any further scandals.

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Palacios, Mauricio. “El Polvorín que Representan Rusia y Ucrania.” CEMERI, 24 jun. 2023,