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Rising tensions in the International Community
amid Russo-Ukrainian war and the China-Taiwan conflict
History of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict
The first East Slavic State - Kievan Rus entangles Russian and Ukraine’s roots. Founded in 879, its capital was Kiev. In the mid-13th century it was invaded by Mongols forcing them to shift their capital to the small Rus city Moscow.
In 1840 the “Little Russia“ attempted to stop Ukrainian nationalism by prohibiting Ukrainian language in schools. In february 1917 Ukraine established a provisional government and declared itself a republic. In November they declared total independence.
When The Soviet Union formally disbanded on december 26th 1990, Ukraine established relations with NATO. In the Treaty of Friendship in 1997, Yeltsin accepted Ukrainian post-Soviet borders. After Yushchenko won a majority of votes in the elections, Moscow responded by pressuring Ukraine with gas cutoffs from 2006 to 2009. Even though Yankovych and his supporters were interested in maintaining close ties with Russia in 2010, he preferred signing the association agreement with the European Union. Demonstrations in Kyiv in late 2013 supported this agreement. In 2014 Putin announced the annexation of Crimea in a speech to the Duma. In August of the same year Russia invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
After the Russian Federation’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March of 2014, the topic of the Russo-Ukrainian relations again became an important talking point amidst the International Community, which led to the indefinite and eventually permanent suspension of Russia from G8(now known as G7). Pair that with the signment of the first of two Minsk protocols between the Ukrainian Government, the Federation of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe(OSCE), as well as the self proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic(DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic(LPR), that failed to effectively resolve the conflict in the region, the situation seemed dire. Political outlooks in Ukraine and Russia are changing with the support for NATO membership rising from below 50% in 2014 to more than 62% in 2022. In 2015 NATO responded to fears of member states along Russian borders by reinforcing capabilities in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania and standing by its 2008 pledge that Ukraine and Georgia “ will become “ members.
2021 escalations and the Russo-Ukrainian war
In 2021, the conflict escalated again. The Russian Federation moved large swaths of their army to the Ukrainian border under the guise of performing routine military exercises. The war seemed inevitable in December when more than 100.000 Russian soldiers were stationed near the Ukrainian border, with the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, stating that this is only a response to the deployment of 125.000 soldiers of the Ukrainian army to the Donbas region.
On 24th of February 2022 a full scale invasion was launched by the Russian Federation into Ukrainian territory which the UN considers a violation of territorial integrity of Ukraine. In a sudden move, on the 30th of September, the Russian Federation announced its annexation of the following regions: Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhizhia. This annexation is not recognised by anyone besides North Korea but this hasn’t stopped the Russian Federation in placing a veto on the resolution condemning the attempted annexation of Ukraine’s regions.
On 18th of October, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, a body founded by the Human Rights Council on the 4th of March 2022, finally published its report on the state of human rights in the warring regions, which found a mirriad of violations of human rights and International Law by the Russian Federation and has found them accountable for a number of war crimes committed on Ukrainian territory. If the annexation of Ukrainian territories does come to fruition, and the political goals of the Russian Federation are met, this could set a landmark precedent in the International Community. We can expect some nations, like the People’s Republic of China, to use this precedent to justify their own political goals.
Looking at the rise of tension around the globe through the Russo-Ukrainian war, the actions taken by the Russian Federation have so far caused the European energy crisis to rapidly worsen. The Russian Federation has, during Putin’s Presidency, made itself one of the main actors in the energy distribution of Europe, through a gas pipeline Nord Stream 1 and 2.
People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India are yet to condemn the actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.
The decision to invade Ukraine was made to eliminate the threat of NATO expansion near its borders. Ukraine has applied for a NATO membership, however, so far, NATO considers Ukraine a non-NATO ally, which further makes Ukraine and NATO members eligible to call upon Article V, which states that “an attack on one ally is an attack on the whole alliance”. Because of the conflict, non-NATO members, Sweden and Finland, have applied for a NATO membership citing fears of a possible future invasion.
History of the China-Taiwan conflict
At the end of World War II in 1945, the administration of Taiwan was transferred to the Republic of China (ROC) from the Empire of Japan, though legal questions remain regarding the language in the Treaty of San Francisco. In 1949, with the Chinese Civil War turning decisively in favor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Republic of China’s government, led by the Kuomintang (KMT), retreated to Taiwan and established the provisional capital in Taipei, while the CCP proclaimed the People's Republic of China’s (PRC) government in Beijing. No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed and debate continues as to whether the civil war has legally ended.
Since then, the relations between the governments in Beijing and Taipei have been characterized by limited contact, tensions, and instability. In the early years, military conflicts continued. Since the democratization of Taiwan, the question regarding the political and legal status of Taiwan has shifted focus to the choice between political unification with mainland China or de jure Taiwanese independence. The PRC remains hostile to any formal declaration of independence and maintains its claim over Taiwan. During Democratic Progressive Party administrations, negotiations continue to occur on practical matters through informal channels.
Rising tensions between China and Taiwan in 2022
The visit of the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan on the 2nd of August, the tensions between the PRC and the ROC have further escalated, with the PRC recognising this visit as an attack on China’s sovereignty, internal affairs and a violation of the commitment and promises made by the USA side. The USA doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the ROC, but shares interests in democracy and technological innovation. NATO has also provided military equipment sales to the Republic of China, worth 1.1b US dollars. Furthermore, the PRC warned the President of the United States of America(USA), Joseph Biden, against Pelosi's visit, on which the President even officially commented saying “it is not a good idea right now”. The PRC believe that their military exercises were justified, claiming that what the USA’s representatives did were a clear breach of the “One China policy'' commitment made by the USA, as well as a breach of the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 that recognises the one-China principle. In the most recent open party congress of the PRC, president Xi Jinping restated their attitude towards Taiwan, it being that they desire a peaceful reunification and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.This statement along with the warning that the option of force is always on the table if all other means fail, can be an omen of bad things to come if both the PRC and the USA remain adamant about their political interests in ROC. Eight out of ten PRC’s top trading partners are the USA and its allies, and the PRC’s main goal of economic growth and making itself the center of East Asia would be in jeopardy if they decide for an armed intervention in ROC as it would most certainly lead to sanctions.
On the other side of the camp, the current ROC leader Tsai Ing-Wen has stated that the idea of One country, two systems, something present in Hong Kong and Macau will never apply to the ROC, and that Beijing must accept that the ROC is its own sovereign country. Although not an official country, ROC maintains very close ties to the United States of America, the latter maintaining a military base on the main island. "The 1979 Taiwan relations act" is still upheld to this day, meaning that the USA vows to protect the ROC in case of any military conflict, and therefore currently has a healthy naval and military presence in Taiwan itself as well as in neighboring islands and countries. The potential ramifications if this conflict arises could be devastating for the International Community. The PRC has been a growing economic power, and the world’s number one exporter of goods ever since 2009, the potential sanctions that maybe put in place by the International Community and vice versa are poised to have devastating consequences on the World's economy and trade, the scale of which might even eclipse the COVID-19 pandemic.
ROC is, just as Ukraine, another non-NATO ally, meaning that they also can call upon Article V. The PRC’s and the Russian Federation’s positions regarding the conflicts may seem to make them allies, and their bilateral cooperation has seen a significant boost in the past decade, however, both countries have been cautious with one another, as they share interest in the Arctic region. Xi Jinping has tightened the People's Republic of China’s relations with the Russian Federation since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war. However, the common threat to the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation in achieving their political goals remains to be the NATO alliance.