Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is possibly the most important international development since the end of the Cold War.
Unlike other wars over the last 30 years – including in Europe itself – this conflict threatens to re-divide Europe and has the potential to escalate into a European and even world war, including nuclear confrontation.
The starting point for many is to condemn Russia’s brutal invasion and support Ukraine’s fight for liberation and national sovereignty. But, for all their talk of sovereignty, Ukrainian elites are demanding immediate EU membership and have long sought to become a de facto protectorate of NATO – a policy that has divided the Ukrainian nation and enflamed relations with Russia.
Russia’s motives are equally contested. Many see the origins of the invasion in Putin’s desire to re-create a greater Russia. Others argue it is a reaction to NATO expansionism. Some even argue that in invading Ukraine now, Putin is taking advantage of what he sees as Western disunity and moral incoherence. Yet some argue that any attempt to put the war into context ultimately plays into Putin’s hands, absolving Russia of responsibility for its unprovoked aggression.
So, what are the roots of this crisis? Why did Russia invade Ukraine? And (why) should we care about this conflict more than any others over the past three decades?
How should the West respond? Does outside involvement risk escalating the war, or at some point will Western nations have to confront Russian aggression more directly? Is the war likely to re-unify the West, as some claim, or has it further revealed underlying tensions and weaknesses within and amongst Western powers?
Ultimately, what does Russia’s invasion mean, and what will peace look like, for Ukraine, Europe and the world?
Wherever you stand on this issue, come along and join the debate!