What countries surround Russia and Ukraine? How are they involved in the conflict?
Russia and Ukraine share a 1,300 mile border. They are the two largest countries in Europe sharing borders with 18 other countries combined.
Russia and Ukraine both used to be part of the Soviet Union before its dissolution. They are the two largest countries in Europe, sharing a mutual land border stretching 1,300 miles.
Both share borders with NATO alliance members, some of which used to be in the Soviet sphere of influence. The alliance has voiced support for Ukraine and supplied the country with weapons in the face of Russian aggression. However, neither the US nor other members have said they will not get involved militarily.
Condemnation of the Russian invasion has been nearly universal but not all countries have spoken out yet, some have even offered their support. One ex-Soviet republic, Belarus, is standing by Russia even offering to send troops into Ukraine if needed.
Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, recently needed help from Russia to quell protests over an election he rigged to stay in power. Belarus shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia, some of whose troops invaded Ukraine from Belarussian territory to capture the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Here’s a look at the 16 other countries that neighbor Russia and Ukraine and which side they support.
European neighbors and NATO alliance members
Founded after World War II, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was originally set up defend against potential aggression from Germany or the Soviet Union. The alliance took on its current name in 1949 when it expanded to include the United States, Canada and a number of Western European nations.
The organization has now grown to include 30 nations, including six that were former Warsaw Pact members and three that were Soviet republics. Four of those nations, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, along with Norway abut the Russian Federation. Lithuania and Poland don’t border the Russian mainland but instead a small territory on the Baltic coast squeezed between the two called Kaliningrad.
President Vladimir Putin listed NATO expansion east toward Russia with the potential of Ukraine joining the alliance, something that is more a distant aspiration than a current reality, as part of his reasons for amassing troops along the two countries’ mutual border. That line of argument was absent from his announcement to begin the military operation for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine for its part shares borders with NATO members Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. As well as Moldova which is neutral, but has a breakaway province called Transnistria that is aligned with Russia which has had troops stationed there since 1990. So far, no troop movement or attacks on Ukraine are known to have been carried out from Transnistria according to the Moldovan government.
Ukraine in total borders six officially recognized countries, all of which are in Europe. Russia has one other European neighbor, Finland, which is neutral by treaty that it signed with the Soviet Union in 1948, something President Vladimir Putin wanted to do with Ukraine.
However, Russia extends over northern Asia and has the second longest land border in the world after China. Here are its other neighbors.
Two former Soviet republics share a border with Russia in the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Azerbaijan cemented its alliance with Russia offering to coordinate gas supplies to Europe according to TASS a Russian news agency.
Georgia on the other hand wants to join NATO and has had similar problems with Russian meddling as Ukraine. In 2008, Russia invaded its neighbor to enforce the peace between it and the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Another Russian-back separatist region of Georgia, Abkhazia joined in the fight on as well.
Russia’s Asian neighbors
Russia’s longest land border is with Kazakhstan, also a former Soviet republic. It recently asked Putin for help with an uprising that nearly toppled the government. Protests started after the government removed its price cap on liquefied petroleum gas which many Kazakhs use to power their cars.
China, although a communist country, had until recently been an adversary of Russia. However over the years China’s President Xi Jinping and Putin have developed a strong friendship. The two met weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine and Russia moved a large portion of its forces from the east to take part in the invasion.
Mongolia, which is squeeze between the two giants, has had strong ties with Russia since Soviet times. And in the far east Russia has a small border with North Korea. The isolated nation has relied on help from Russia in international negotiations and in times of crisis.
Russia shares maritime borders with the US off the coast of Alaska between the Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait and with Japan.