Will there be a war in Ukraine? Probably not.

Parsa Keshavarz Alamdari, Columnist

Tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine have reached their highest level since Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Some sources say Russia has stationed 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine; others estimate the number to be closer to 130,000. Meanwhile, the British government has claimed that Russia is planning to install a pro-Russian president in Ukraine. However, this idea never materialized. Similarly, the probability of Russia invading Ukraine seems pretty slim.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

The conflict is mostly centered around Ukraine’s membership of in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This organization was originally established as a military alliance to counter Soviet expansion in Europe. Russia continues to fear NATO as a threat to its existence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t want Ukraine to join NATO.

“Imagine that Ukraine becomes a NATO member and launches those military operations,” Putin said. “Should we fight NATO then? Has anyone thought about it?”

Meanwhile, Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of NATO says that his organization has “no plans to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine.” To Stoltenberg, the cost of deploying forces to Ukraine outweighs its benefits. NATO aims to be fully prepared to defend peace in Europe but doesn’t want to be the one who starts the conflict. 

Vladimir Putin has a powerful grip over his country. He became the prime minister under Boris Yeltsin. President Yeltsin resigned less than a year later, leaving Putin in charge. 

Putin was stationed in East Germany during the cold war as a KGB agent. He developed a partiality towards the collapsed Soviet Union. Last December, he said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the demise of “historic Russia.” Many Russians share his nostalgia for the Soviet Union. 

It seems that in the past couple of years, Putin has been busy reviving the Soviet Union. In 2008, Russia gruesomely invaded parts of Northern Georgia. Russia has been intimidating other former Soviet countries to move into its sphere of influence.

In my opinion, Putin’s support of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko—following the deeply-flawed 2020 elections and his role in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late 2020—was also to indebt these countries to Russia. Perhaps Ukraine is waiting for a similar fate.

On Jan. 31, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Ukraine. Ferit Hoxha, Albania’s permanent representative to the UN, was among those who addressed the council. He said that the council has not yet been able to prevent conflicts, especially regarding Ukraine.

It is apparent that our international instruments to address conflict, such as the security council, are broken—or they were designed that way. After all, Russia is a permanent member of the security council with veto power, meaning that it could reject any resolution on Ukraine.

With no diplomatic solution to the conflict on the table, Western diplomats have been panicking, fearing a full-on war in Ukraine could have dire consequences for the whole Western Bloc. President Zelensky of Ukraine seems fairly calm, however. He has asked his western colleagues to “calm down.” Zelensky believes that this could destabilize his country’s economy, something that is more worrisome than the ‘possibility’ of a Russian invasion.

Europeans are not very eager to engage in a conflict with Russia either. It seems that Russia also prefers not to enter a conflict with Europe. Europe heavily relies on energy imports from Russia, and Russia relies on its income. A third of Europe’s natural gas and a fourth of Europe’s crude oil come from Russia. Some of these imports pass through Ukraine. Similarly, 40 percent of Russia’s federal budget comes from its energy exports, mostly to Europe. While this could be huge leverage for Putin, Russia won’t dare to deprive itself of this huge source of income. So, as long as there is some tension between the parties, but no action, it seems that everything can turn out fine for everyone.

With the international community unable to de-escalate the conflict, NATO member countries and Russia keep threatening each other. There have been no improvements in the situation. However, an armed conflict seems out of reach. The current conflict has been going on for months because neither of the stakeholders can afford to go to war now. No one will benefit from it. We just have to wait and see how the situation develops in the following days and weeks.