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Position of Western Countries in Russia-Ukraine Battle

NAFTA, a security alliance between North America and Europe, was formed in order to safeguard and defend democratic freedoms. Signed on April 4, 1949, the treaty attempted to thwart any further Soviet incursion. It formed a power balance in Europe and guaranteed the safety of all its members. As a result, member nations pool their military resources and strengthen their defences.

As a result, NATO served as a democratic engine that promoted common ideals and interests while also indirectly rebuffing communism. The USSR signed the Warsaw pact in 1955 because it considered NATO as a danger. If an attack was launched on a member of the Warsaw Pact or NATO, other members would protect that country as a whole. As a result, two instruments with similar construction and intended use were put to the test (The North Atlantic Treaty, 1949).

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the iron curtain was torn down in 1991, putting pressure on Germany to decide whether to join NATO or join Russia via the Warsaw Pact. A proposal was made to Mikhail Gorbachev by the United States government under the leadership of George H.W. Bush: if Germany joined the NATO alliance, the alliance would not expand "even an inch eastward," and no new members would be allowed into NATO (Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker, 1990). When Russia accepted the offer, it was hoped that the United States would keep its commitment and the Warsaw Pact was scrapped.

The United States, on the other hand, has asserted that Russia was never offered such a deal. On the other hand, official American documents speak a different story (From the One-on-One Conversation of M.S. Gorbachev with H. Kohl, 1990).

NATO's expansion has not slowed down, and new members can join at any time. When NATO was founded in 1949, there were just 12 members, but since the fall of the Soviet Union, the alliance has rapidly expanded eastwards, and in 1999 the Czech Republic and Hungary joined. Another wave of expansion occurred in 2004, and seven former Soviet republics in central and eastern Europe were incorporated into NATO.

The NATO memberships of Albania and Croatia were formalised in 2009. New additions for 2017-2020 include Montenegro and Northern Macedonia. In close proximity to Russia, both Montenegro and Northern Macedonia can be considered one country.

Induction of new members does not stop here, as of 2021, NATO has acknowledged Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine as aspiring members (NATO, 2020). Recently, NATO has been in talks with Finland, Serbia and Sweden for membership. So many former Soviet Union countries in Eastern Europe have joined NATO, despite Russia's warnings and protests. This is a significant development.

Current ties of NATO and Russia

Russia and NATO's relationship has seen its ups and downs throughout the years. The NATO-Russia Council was established at the beginning of the decade (NRC). The National Research Council (NRC) provided a forum for both parties to address issues of mutual interest in the interest of security and collaboration. There has been a steady relationship between NATO and Russia thanks in part to the NRC, but NATO and Russia have also been at odds, and Russia has been particularly vociferous about NATO expansion. When speaking at the Munich Conference in 2007, Russian President Boris Yeltsin asked the 'western partners' who NATO's expansion is aimed at?

NATO's expansionist stance is causing alarm not only in Russia, but also in the United States. President Bill Clinton received an open letter from American foreign policy experts on June 27, 1997, in which they called the expansion of NATO a "political folly of historic proportions" (McCgwire, 1998). Former US ambassador to Russia William J Burns wrote to the State Department in 2008 warning that "the entry of Ukraine into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite" (emphasis added). Letter stated that Russia's interests are threatened by Ukraine's entry into NATO. Many have argued that Russia has a valid point in its protests. However, the narrative that is emerging paints a picture of Russia as an aggressor and Ukraine as the victim.

Because of this, NATO has pledged to stand with the Ukrainian government and is open to diplomatic efforts to deescalate and end the conflict. With regard to a future NATO-Russia Council Meeting, NATO has agreed to a'meaningful dialogue' with Russia and is open to the idea. In contrast, NATO's practises mandate that this is not the case. Russia has repeatedly protested NATO's eastward expansion, citing security concerns; the latest manifestation of this concern was the Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on security guarantees (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021).

To prevent NATO's "eastward expansion" and to deny alliance membership to the states of the former Soviet Union, Russia used the treaty as a vehicle to request that the United States refrain from deploying forces of international organisations and military coalitions in areas where they could be perceived as a threat to national security.

In addition, Russia demanded that the United States refrain from deploying missiles launched from the ground that may strike targets on the other party's national territory. The deal was slammed as 'unreasonable' and rejected outright. Since NATO's behaviours and claims do not coincide, it looks that the organisation simply values diplomacy on paper.

Why does Russia object to NATO's eastward expansion?

Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that 'the parties will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attacks' this means that the parties to the treaty are free to formulate measures (read technology and weapons transfer) amongst themselves in order to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic region.'

However, the notion of equal and indivisible security must be reaffirmed at this point. An important principle is that a state cannot protect its own security if it jeopardises the security of another state. Since Russia's whole security is at risk due to NATO's expansion and the development of new military technology, this premise must be challenged.

There is no longer a buffer between NATO and Russia, and it is fair to say that the current configuration of NATO makes Russians fearful of the organization's approach. The lack of a buffer zone and the United States' development and deployment of high-tech weapons fuel an already smouldering sense of unease.

As far as 5000 kilometres and beyond are concerned, the Pentagon is working on creating missile systems. As a retaliatory strike' weapon, the MK41 missile launcher has been employed regularly in Iraq, Iran, and the former Yugoslavia, and Russia has noted that it may be the target of such actions in the not-too-distant future.

By including Ukraine in NATO's eastern expansion, such missile defence systems might be deployed on Ukrainian soil under the North Atlantic Treaty's provisions for developing and maintaining collective and individual resistance to assaults. To begin with, this would allow missile systems to cover a wider area, while at the same time decreasing the time it takes to reach Russian targets.

The Nexus between Ukraine, NATO and USA

There is no smoke without fire, this is true for the current developments as well as to have an unbiased understanding, we need to comprehend the international relations of USA and Ukraine. Document "Integrated Country Strategy: Ukraine" (hence known as the document) comes into play at this point. First and foremost, it is obvious from this document's outset that the United States is establishing a self-reliant and secure security and economic ally that shares Western ideals and solidifies America's path toward Asia.

As a result, it is evident that Ukraine's geographic location is critical to American commercial and military interests, which can only be reaped by the United States if it is incorporated into the western world. Ukraine must have a strong military, fight corruption, and implement political and economic reforms targeted at European integration in order for this to happen, according to the United States (US Department of State, 2018).

When NATO holds military drills, it does so under the command of the United States, implying that the United States is the one imposing economic reforms in Ukraine, as noted in the document mentioned above. Instead of saying Ukraine and NATO need to work together, it is intended that the United States and Ukraine must work together closely so as to improve the United States' eastern trajectory. To support this premise, the document states that a cooperation with Ukraine will protect American citizens living in Ukraine as well as those living in the United States and will keep the 'Russian menace distant from NATO'

A key part of Ukraine's policy for national security is to work closely with NATO members like the United States. Instead of going for the diplomatic approach Ukraine's strategy to defend itself against alleged Russian aggression Ukraine intends to build its armed forces and win the support of international entities such that economic and legal pressure can be exerted on Russia. Ukraine's National Security Strategy has further put down that a national sustainability protocol would be devised, which will ensure a high degree of preparation in times of crisis and this protocol shall be in line with 'NATO recommendations'.

If Ukraine is a sovereign state, how can NATO suggestions be used as a basis for its national security strategy? Are Americans unaware that if they join forces with Ukraine, the United States will raise suspicions in Russia about Ukraine's commitment to its eastern trajectory and its role as a stable commercial and security partner?

When Ukraine knows that Russia has been protesting against eastward expansion of NATO then why would it seek NATO membership? Only by grasping the scope of American involvement in Ukraine and Europe can these issues be adequately addressed.

Russia meets the vast majority of Europe's gas needs. Russian gas supplied 41% of EU gas needs in 2019 whereas US gas supplied 5% of EU gas needs (European Commission, n.d.). American claims of global superpowerdom must be bolstered by increased market share in Europe's largely Russian-dominated gas market. Russia, on the other hand, has emerged as the major supplier of Liquefied Natural Gas in the European Union after the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline became operational.

Under Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline connects Russia with Germany. Because the pipeline does not cross Ukraine, Ukraine is not able to charge Russia's exports the transit fees. Russia's market share grows, which hurts the United States' commercial prospects, and Ukraine's revenue decreases as a result.

The United States and Ukraine have formed an alliance against Russia, and NATO serves as the means of doing so. If Ukraine joins NATO, it will have greater access to markets in Eastern Europe. In order to offset Russia's 'aggression' in Europe, the United States knows that if it can limit Russian oil and natural gas, it will be able to do so.

Way Forward
In the same way that oil helped to keep the Middle East free of conflict, natural gas is helping to keep Europe safe. According to the events of the past decade, the United States appears to have generated turmoil and misery wherever it has attempted to enforce law and order through itself or international institutions. By creating narratives such as "Russian aggression" and "anti-terrorism," the United States has sought to excuse its actions in this case, but no war can be justifiable. If Russia is found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, then the United States and all other parties involved must also be held accountable. International institutions have stoked suspicion by taking steps that were not warranted.

Chicken-egg scenario: NATO claims that it is expanding eastwards to deter Russian aggression, and Russia claims that it is expanding eastwards because of NATO expansion. In spite of NATO's stated goal of keeping the Russian threat far from NATO's frontiers, NATO membership is granted to countries that share borders with Russia. In this way, NATO intends to avoid the Russian border while at the same time bringing itself closer to the Russian border. Is this an attempt to subjugate Russia in the same way NATO subjugated the Warsaw Pact countries?

Because of sanctions imposed on Russia, Ukraine's population is directly harmed, while all of humanity is indirectly harmed as a result of the conflict. Since the commencement of the war, global oil prices have skyrocketed, which has hampered the world economy's recovery from the pandemic. Increased oil and gas costs won't have as big of an impact on the industrialized world as they will on the developing world, such as the reduction of the Employee Provident Fund rate in India.

American sanctions on Russia have also destabilised the European market, with all countries reliant on the European market bearing the price. As a result, it would be accurate to argue that war has had both global and local effects.

To dominate the energy market and revenue systems, rather than securing control of territory and ensuring national and international security, the conflict is being waged. That said, we need to keep in mind that oil and gas mining/supply businesses can operate and deliver oil and natural gas regardless of who controls the land they are working in, whether it is Russia, NATO, or Ukraine.

Even though the price of oil and natural gas is high, it will be acquired because every country wants to be developed and become a superpower. At this point, we must ask who is benefiting from the high cost of oil since the beginning of the war. Russia or the United States? Or is it the oil and gas corporations that are reaping the benefits of the price increase in oil? Is there really a crisis, or have conditions been contrived to raise oil and natural gas prices? Western involvement in Russia-Ukraine conflict will become clearer once these questions are answered.

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