Why might Russia invade Ukraine?

President Biden spoke with Russian leader Vladimir Putin this week, warning that Russia should not make any further militaristic moves towards Ukraine...

Why might Russia invade Ukraine?

On 7 December President Biden spoke over video with Russian leader Vladamir Putin "to discuss a range of issues on the U.S.-Russia agenda." One of the main topics discussed between the leaders was the escalation of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine.  New US intelligence reports show that more than 100,000 Russian troops are stationed right outside the conflict zone in Ukraine on the Russian side and that the Kremlin may be preparing to send them into the conflict.

During the meeting, Biden made it clear that any further action would be met with a response by the US and its allies.

What is the US prepared to do if Russia invades Ukraine?

After the call between the two leaders, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reported that the President "was direct and straightforward" and "reiterated America’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." Sullivan also made it clear the US was willing to pursue more forceful measures than when Russia invaded Crimea more than eight years ago. No specifics were to the public but Sullivan made it clear that the Russians were being made aware of the "types of measures that we have in mind" and that the administration was "coordinating very closely with our European allies on that at a level of deep specificity."

Sullivan did make it clear that should Russia invade Ukraine, the US military and its NATO allies would provide support to the Ukrainian government including defensive material. When asked if the public should prepare for the sending of US troops, Sullivan said that there are and have been troops in the region for many years and that the military is more focused on what "additional capabilities can we provide to ensure that they feel strong and confident in their own sovereignty and territorial integrity."

What has Putin said after the call with Biden?

Vladimir Putin had been rather quiet about his countries plans in regards to the ongoing crisis. However, after the call, he told reporters that both leaders had agreed to "continue this discussion and we'll do it in a substantive way." Additionally, the leader said, "Russia will draw up its ideas literally in the coming days, within a week we will give this to the U.S. side to consider."

For the Kremlin, the US support from the Ukrainian army in conflict against Russian rebels is seen as a red line. Russian leaders are very worried at the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, which Putin says would "undoubtedly be followed by the deployment there of military contingents, bases and weapons that threaten us."

Tensions escalate

Making matters worse are US intelligence reports that say Russia may be planning to up their presence in the conflict. The reports highlight that more than 100,000 Russian troops are stationed right outside the conflict zone on the Russian side and that the Kremlin may be preparing to send them into Ukraine.

When will the two leaders speak again?

The two leaders are expected to speak on Thursday 9 December, with many hoping that a more concrete negotiation can be agreed to quell the increase in fighting that has been seen between Ukrainian forces and Russian rebels.