Russia Vs Ukraine – The Front Line in a New Great Power Rivalry

When President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on 24 February 2022 he thought that the ensuing war would be over in weeks. But he miscalculated, and his initial invasion plans failed. The conflict has now raged for a year, leaving millions of people either as refugees abroad or displaced within their own country. It is also a front line in renewed great power rivalry between Russia and the West.

Ukrainian forces have proven stalwart in their defence. They have repelled Russian attacks on their capital and its key eastern cities. Moreover, Ukraine’s ally, the United States, has delivered superior US Himars missiles and German Leopard 2 tanks, while the Western alliance’s near-total embargo on advanced processors means that any computerised equipment lost by Russia is hard to replace.

Russia Vs Ukraine

The escalating war has deep roots in the two countries’ complex history. Ukraine has long been a close trading partner of Russia, but the relationship withered as Russia’s economy shrank and China took on a greater role in trade. In addition, many Russians cherish their family ties to Kyiv, the city from which the Kievan Rus inherited its early Slavic statehood.

But more than anything, the war has been sparked by a desire to maintain Russia’s status as a great power. Many Russian politicians see Ukraine as a “foul enemy” that will damage their country’s international prestige if it is allowed to enter the Western orbit.