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Why is Biden voicing concerns that Russia may invade Ukraine?

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin over a video conference that the U.S. would undertake “strong economic measures” if Russia were to invade Ukraine. 

Here’s what you need to know about the tension between Ukraine and Russia.

From the start… 

Ukraine was one of the republics of the Soviet Union until its breakup in 1991, which led to Ukraine declaring its independence. Geographically, Ukraine is wedged between Russia and Europe. 

In 2013, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych – who was widely seen by the West as pro-Russia – refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union. This decision sparked mass protests from civilians and in February 2014, Yanukovych was consequently ousted from office. 

Russia reacted by invading and annexing the Crimean peninsula, which was part of Ukraine. Annexing essentially means forcibly acquiring another state’s territory. 

In 2015, a peace agreement, brokered by France and Germany, was reached between Ukraine and Russia – however, parts of the agreement have not been fulfilled.

What has happened now? 

According to the New York Times, U.S. intelligence officials last week used satellite images to determine that Russia has plans for a military offensive at the Ukraine border.

It predicts it could involve about 175,000 troops and could start next year. Russia has said this is false and alarmist.

In the lead-up to the video conference between President Biden and President Putin, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would “reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Security Adviser said Biden “told President Putin directly that if Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States and our European allies would respond with strong economic measures”.

A statement from the Russian Government said Putin responded to the concerns expressed by Biden by saying: “It is actually NATO that is making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory and is building up its military potential at our borders.” NATO is the military alliance between 30 nations, including the U.S. and 28 European countries, which has long-showed support to Ukraine.

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