A Standoff: Why Russia and Ukraine Each Do Not Want to Strike First, nationalinterest.org

Mark Episkopos, national security reporter for The National Interest

Both countries have mobilized their armed forces for a potential escalation in the war in eastern Ukraine, but Moscow and Kiev both have reasons to hold off for now.

Clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists in Donbass have intensified in recent weeks. Observers noted a sharp uptick in Ukraine’s regular shelling activity against separatist positions in Donetsk and Luhansk, with locals likewise reporting Ukrainian tank fire. A five-year-old child, Vladislav Shikhov, was killed by an explosion. The separatist self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk (DNR) blamed Ukraine’s military for Shikhov’s death, alleging that the explosive armament in question was dropped by a Ukrainian drone—however, Kiev disputes the DNR’s account.

Accusing one another of provocatory behavior, Russia and Ukraine are once again preparing for the possibility of direct conflict. Moscow has substantially upped its troops presence along the Donbass border, also moving trainloads of infantry fighting vehicles and 2S19 Msta-S howitzers to Crimea. […]

As tensions escalate over the Donbass, Ukraine continues to push for an expedited path to membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas. Ukraine’s MAP (Membership Action Plan) will be a real signal for Russia,” stated Zelensky following a recent conversation with NATO leadership. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Ukraine’s NATO bid “wouldn’t only lead to a massive escalation of the situation in the southeast but could also entail irreversible consequences for the Ukrainian statehood.” While expressing general support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Washington has refused to back Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. Meanwhile, Germany and France have openly opposed a MAP for Ukraine. Läs artikel