The Russian Minister of Defense, Sergey Shoigu, has accepted Defense Minister Ben Wallace of the UK’s invitation to discuss the current tension near the Ukrainian border. With a Russian invasion looking imminent, Minister Ben Wallace intends to do whatever is within his power to de-escalate and resolve the conflict. Although Wallace’s initial intent was for the two to meet in London, Shoigu instead requested that the two meet in Moscow, as their last meeting in 2013 took place in London.
The conflict is not something new, but rather a recent rise in tension of the Russo-Ukrainian crisis. Though the conflict first began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea to return it to Russian control, recent troop mobilizations imply that things are about to heat up once again. The first sign of tension came in the spring of 2021 when Russia placed around 100,000 soldiers, heavy weaponry, and military vehicles near their border with Ukraine. The move was immediately seen as a show of force and, although Russia claims that they have no intention of invading, U.S. officials believe that there could be an assault at any time. Britain and several other Western nations have begun supplying Ukrainian forces with weaponry to defend themselves if the conflict comes to a head.
The current state of tension between Russia and the West is arguably the worst since the Cold War, with many fearing that a war is on the horizon. If Russia did mobilize an invasion, many military experts don’t believe that the Ukrainian fighting forces would be able to repel them. If that’s the case, the Russians may swiftly annex additional territories, similarly to Crimea in 2014.
Putin’s aim seems to be to expand his sphere of influence and simultaneously keep NATO at arm’s length from Russia. Despite their repeated denial of intentions to invade, Russia has used their military presence at the border to place demands upon Ukraine in exchange for a de-escalation of the tension; most notably insisting on Ukraine not joining NATO. While the Russian forces are superior, many believe that the Ukrainians will still fight back, potentially placing Russia in a what British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calls a “terrible quagmire.” With the added support of several powerful Western allies, a drawn-out conflict in Ukraine would likely escalate the conflict on a global scale.
Leaders from around the world have already come forward and made their positions clear to Russia. Any acts of aggression or attempts to destabilize Ukraine will come with severe consequences. Though the threats have not seemed to deter the emboldened Putin, perhaps the coming meeting will help to de-escalate the current tension. With any luck the meeting of Ben Wallace and his Russian counterpart will result in some long-sought solutions.