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  • Writer's pictureNico Chevalier

Tensions are high on Ukraine's border with Russia. Here's what you need to know.

Exploring fast facts on the recent conflicts between Ukraine and Russia

  • Recent reports, including an unclassified US intelligence document, have indicated that the Russian government may be planning a multi-front offensive against Ukraine early this year.

  • Russia has been moving troops to Ukraine’s border over the past months.

  • Russia has made similar military build-ups in the past, including as recently as April of 2021.

  • Russia has a history of taking military actions against Ukraine, including annexing Crimea, a region of Ukraine, in 2014.

  • Despite a ceasefire between the two countries, both sides regularly engage in cross-border shootouts.

  • Ukraine and Russia have intense cultural ties dating back to the Soviet Union. Many in Russia see Ukraine as a central part of Russia’s identity. In their view, letting Ukraine fall into Western influence would signal Russian weakness and would be a blow to its history and prestige.

  • Ukraine is on Russia’s western border and is about 28 times smaller than Russia.

  • Some believe that Russia’s actions are simply posturing intended to deter the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from bringing Ukraine further into their sphere of influence.

  • In an attempt to deter a potential invasion, the United States and allies are assembling financial, technology, and military sanctions against Russia that they say would take effect immediately after an invasion.

A Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol in Ukraine's Donetsk region on Jan. 20. (Andriy Dubchak/AP)

  • The United States has used sanctions to respond to Russian actions vis a vis Ukraine in the past, including in response to its annexation of Crimea.

  • United States President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently held talks via video conference in response to the reports.

  • Russia and the United States started a set of formal diplomatic talks in Geneva to defuse the situation on January 10th.

  • Sergei Ryabkov, a Russian foreign deputy minister, downplayed reports of an invasion, saying, “there is no reason to fear some kind of escalatory scenario.”

  • President Biden has said that if Putin “goes into Ukraine… [there will] be a heavy price to pay for it.”

  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “very dangerous rhetoric is coming out of Russia” and that “it is a signal that there could be escalation.” He added that Ukraine’s army is “powerful” and “entirely prepared.”

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