Europe on the Brink of War: How Russian Incursion in Ukraine Could Spawn Major Conflict

Europe on the Brink of War: How Russian Incursion in Ukraine Could Spawn Major Conflict

Max Schwartzman

Tanks, Artillery, Soldiers, and Trucks. All straddling the Ukrainian-Russian border as tensions mount and war approaches, concerning military intelligence leaders of a wide-spreading conflict in Europe.

Russia, under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, has been making strides towards becoming a superpower once again following the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. “It was always Putin’s goal to restore Russia to the status of a great power in northern Eurasia,” wrote Gerard Toal, an international affairs professor at Virginia Tech, in his book Near Abroad. “The end goal was not to re-create the Soviet Union but to make Russia great again.”

Vladimir Putin in the past has noted his belief that Ukrainians and Russians were “one people”, endorsing a successful yet highly controversial referendum in the Crimean Peninsula to rejoin Russia. Additionally, under Putin’s directions, Russian and Ukrainian forces have fought numerous small border skirmishes with Russian forces capturing small pieces of Ukraine with each military encroachment. 

Russia’s reason for wanting Ukraine is that “without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire,” former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski noted in a foreign affairs document, “but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.”

While conflict between the two nations is nothing new, with the two nations technically in a perpetual state of war since 2014, a major conflict between the two could be on the horizon. 

According to American military intelligence, Russian forces have amassed more than 100,000 soldiers at the Ukrainian border along with equipment, vehicles, and artillery. Additionally, American intelligence suggests that a full-scale invasion could begin as soon as January 2022. 

“The significance of the worst scenarios in terms of a full-scale invasion would be on a scale not seen in Europe since the Second World War,” Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom told reporters in a press conference. 

A number of intelligence officials agree that an invasion could spark a major conflict that engulfs the entire former Eastern Bloc into a state of war. “To think war could be contained to one nation would be foolish,” one anonymous intelligence official told the BBC.

In response to the actions of Russia, President Biden of the United States has ordered sanctions against Russia. “This isn’t your run-of-the-mill sanctions,” Sen. James Risch of Idaho, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee explained to NBC News. “This is going to be a big deal if they make that invasion, and it’s going to involve sovereign debt, it’s going to involve the SWIFT banking system, it’s going to involve the international banking system.”

Military and intelligence officials though are worried that the sanctions won’t be enough, with fears over possible invasion into N.A.T.O. member states increasing. “Let’s not be blind,” an anonymous intelligence official declared. “If Russia initiates a scenario of any kind it will also initiate action against Nato members.”

According to GlobalFirePower, Ukraine ranks as the 25th strongest nation in the world with a Power Index rating of 0.4396 (0.0 being the best) and having 255,000 active soldiers. However, Russia ranks as the 2nd strongest nation in the world with a Power Index rating of 0.0791 and having 1,014,000 active soldiers. By simple mathematics, Ukraine will not survive a live war between itself and Russia, knocking the number of countries in the world down to 194.