Amid what is arguably the most serious international military conflict humanity has faced in decades, tensions between the Russian Federation and NATO-backed Ukraine have reached a new peak as the U.S.-led alliance begins mobilizing forces after a serious escalation of aggressions.
All about context
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, already in dire need of detente, is precipitously balanced on a dire warning by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stated when the “Special Military Operation,” characterized by Russia as initiated for the purposes of “denazification” in Ukraine, to “those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside” that “Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”
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Several weeks into the war, as Ukraine’s losses pile up and the Russian Federation slowly advances on Kiev, the International Rules Based Order has piled mountains of sanctions and cancel culture against Putin, Russian businessmen, and the Federation’s banks and economic exports.
While the international order, seemingly exacerbated, has resorted to utilizing its lower ranks to characterizing Putin as the next Hitler, Big Tech keystone Facebook was mobilized to relax its otherwise apparently stringent policies on hate speech and violence to allow for calls of violence against Russian forces from certain European countries, including Ukraine and NATO member Poland.
Yet, in spite of it all, Russia has been undeterred. A March 14 statement by Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, stated that the operation was moving according to schedule, “will be implemented in full,” and is occurring within “the timeframe approved in advance.”
But Peskov’s statement is made with deliberate timing. On March 12, Russia warned the United States that convoys delivering weapons donated by international allies into Ukraine would be considered “legitimate targets,” Business Insider reported.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on state media, “We warned the United States that pumping Ukraine with weapons from a number of countries orchestrated by them is not just a dangerous move, but these are actions that turn the corresponding convoys into legitimate targets.”
Unflinchingly, President Joe Biden, who warned only days prior that “direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent,” issued a Memorandum the same day, authorizing $200 million “in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Ukraine.”
According to AP, citing sources in the Ukraine government, 30 cruise missiles destroyed the facility, injuring more than 130 and killing 35.
But notably, Yavoriv has been alleged to be housing foreign mercenaries arriving in Ukraine to help kill Russian soldiers as part of the #StandWithUkraine trend.
On Twitter, war reporter Nolan Peterson recounted the story of “an American volunteer on the front lines outside” of Kiev, who said a number of foreigners had either died or been scared into returning home after the strike, “A core group of about 30 foreign fighters remains out of around 200 people who were here just minutes ago.”
Peterson quoted the volunteer as stating, “The base we came from was struck by rockets in the early morning hours. People we lived with for a couple days are confirmed dead. It is only a matter of time before our location is targeted. We are about to be cut off by a Russian tank column any day now…”
It was clarified that the “volunteer” is actually a “special ops veteran who completed combat deployments to Afghanistan,” and “came to Ukraine before Russia’s full-scale war on Feb. 24.”
Peterson described the vet as “an experienced, well-trained soldier who gave up his lucrative career in the US in order to help Ukraine.”
But Ukraine state media, quoting Maksym Kozytsky, Head of Lviv Regional Military Administration, claimed that ten people were in serious condition after the strikes. The outlet paraphrased Kozytsky as stating “that not a single foreign citizen was injured in the bombing.”
In one counterpoint, the Portugal Resident reported in a March 14 piece that at least four Portuguese nationals who entered Ukraine were “uncontactable,” according to statements by the country’s Foreign Ministry.
But according to Portuguese-language website 18 Flash, the four men were accounted for. While the article failed to cite any sources, it did note that one of the men was Nuno Muchado, a character on the country’s version of Big Brother.
Muchado told CNN Portugal before departing, “We don’t want to be treated like mercenaries…We want to be treated like volunteers.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian, responded on March 14 by once again calling for a no-fly zone to be established over Ukraine, a move that would cause NATO forces to attack Russian air units supporting ground troops, immediately sparking a likely nuclear conflict between Russia and NATO.
“If you do not close our skies, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory, on NATO territory, on the homes of citizens of NATO countries,” Zelensky postured, according to state media.
On March 13, Twitter commentator Michael Tracey, who states he is currently located in Poland, photographed the movements of convoys of U.S. troops mobilizing in public view in Rzeszow, 60 miles away from the border with Ukraine, adding that “little or no information is being given about these operations.”
Rhetorical brinkmanship, rather than an appetite for detente, from NATO heated up on March 14 when UK Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid, who despite holding the position of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, was reported by the Evening Standard as dropping a gauntlet on behalf of NATO at Russia’s doorstep.
“We have been very clear, even before the war started, that if there was an attack on any Nato country, even if just a single toecap of a Russian soldier steps into Nato territory then it will be war with Nato and Nato would respond.”
Javid continued, “That has not changed throughout this conflict and there would be a significant response from Nato if there was any kind of attack from Russia.”
According to The Telegraph, the same day, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was paraphrased as “suggesting” that NATO would engage Moscow immediately if ”Moscow accidentally hit NATO territory in Poland.”
But Sullivan was directly quoted only as saying, “If there is a military attack on NATO territory, it would…bring the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it.”
On March 13, Republic World stated that NATO forces had already begun mobilizing.
“In recent weeks, Allies have deployed thousands more troops to the eastern, central and southeastern part of the Alliance and placed more on standby,” NATO said in a statement.
Daily Mail reported on March 14 that NATO deployed 30,000 troops, 50 vessels, and 200 aircraft to Russia’s neighbor Norway for a drill titled “Cold Response.”
While dark clouds are culminating around the conflict, on March 14, none less than the United Nations did their part to stoke the flames when Secretary General António Guterres openly stated that global nuclear conflict is “within the realm of possibility.”
Axios quoted Guterres as stating, “Raising the alert of Russian nuclear forces is a bone-chilling development. The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility.
Meanwhile on March 14, Estonia called for the installation of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, the first NATO member to do so.
Vladimir Putin strictly warned NATO on March 5 that the deployment of a NFZ would be considered “participation in the armed conflict.”
Axios reported Putin as directly saying, “That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are.”
At the time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was sober enough to state, “We understand the desperation but we also believe that if we did that (impose a no-fly zone) we would end up with something that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe involving [many] more countries and much more suffering.”
On March 14, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, famous for their Doomsday Clock, which was updated to “100 seconds until midnight” in January of this year, penned a piece titled Tacit Rules to Avoid a NATO-Russia War.
However, the “rules” listed in the article are simply a denotation of actions taken by NATO and its allies that encroach upon the Russian Federation’s warnings about outside conflict, but haven’t yet been regarded as serious enough to trigger a dramatic escalation in hostilities from Vladimir Putin, such as intelligence sharing between NATO and Ukraine and economic hostilities.