Russia 2022: What Are the Real Motives Behind Putin’s Test of the West?

By Ellie Fletcher – International Affairs Editor

The continuing tensions between Russia and Ukraine has gained international attention and sparked questions over President Putin’s motives. Most recently, the United States has rejected Russia’s demands to bar Ukraine from NATO. There are many possible reasons that Putin is choosing now to make moves on Ukraine, but it is important to look at the history surrounding these two nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the nation-state currently has “no plans” to invade Ukraine; despite amassing thousands of troops along its shared border.

Most people will remember that in 2014 Russian forced annexed Crimea sparking conflicts between the two nations and gained international attention due to fears Russia may invade Ukraine. Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine gained its independence and territory that was once Russian now belonged to Ukraine. This has resulted in people feeling disillusioned as they feel they are Russian, not Ukrainian. Therefore, it is plausible that Russia was only seeking to fulfil these wishes rather than invading the whole country. Nevertheless, that does not account for Putin’s current motivations.

US President Joe Biden has ramped up tensions by making a clear objection to Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine.

A large part of the reasoning behind Russia’s most recent actions could be the Presidency of Joe Biden in the United States. It is important to note the history between these two nations; since 1945, the United States of America and Russia have shared a volatile relationship with both sides wanting to demonstrate their strength and power in order to antagonize the other. This means it is likely that Putin is using Ukraine to intimidate President Biden. This is necessary because Putin no longer has the relationship he had with the United States compared to when Donald Trump was President. However, it is unlikely to succeed due to the fact that, unlike Trump, Biden has decades of experience in foreign policy and is unlikely to react rashly to threats made by Russia.

Overall, whilst the situation is still developing it is likely that Russia is using Ukraine to demonstrate that it has a powerful army and the ability to invade in order to intimidate the United States as well as other nations but is unlikely to follow through in the end.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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