Russia has amassed tens of thousands of soldiers on the border with Ukraine in recent weeks. The West sees this as a form of aggression and fears that Russian President Putin wants to invade Ukraine.
But for Putin, it is a defensive strategy, because Russia feels threatened by NATO, the Western military alliance that has expanded eastward in recent years, including countries that previously belonged to Russia’s sphere of influence.
Russia is now asking NATO for written guarantees that countries like Ukraine and Georgia will never join, despite receiving that promise at the NATO summit in 2008. Moscow also wants NATO to withdraw from all new member states such as Poland or the Baltic states.
For some time now, diplomatic talks have continued at various levels between the West and Russia to prevent an escalation of the conflict. NATO is willing to discuss Russian sensitivities, such as disarmament in Europe, but stresses that Russia cannot decide who can or cannot join the alliance.
Are we going to have a military confrontation on the European continent with Ukraine at stake? Putin seems to hold the key. In the end, he decides how far Russia will go. The West warns that Russia will face severe sanctions if it continues its military escalation.
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