Russian Ukrainian Hostilities And The Countdown To Doomsday

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When you hear the term “100 seconds to midnight,” you probably think it refers to the actual time, not the likelihood of a global catastrophe, and the hostility between Russia and Ukraine slowly brings us closer to Doomsday.

Ever since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have maintained a system to assess the risk of nuclear conflict and rampant climate change through the metaphor of the Doomsday Clock ticking down to midnight. On January 27, 2021, the clock was set its shortest time yet, 100 seconds to midnight, due in part to the steadily increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia mobilizing military assets near the Ukrainian border. 

Russia and Ukraine have been in a protracted war for almost seven years, with the Kremlin supporting anti-Ukrainian separatists and rebels with funding and hardware while attempting to dismiss allegations of their involvement by claiming the separatist/rebel conflict as an eternal Ukrainian issue.  In the last few weeks, Ukrainian sea patrols have encountered Russian fleet activity, such as a flotilla of amphibious assault craft. Frontline emplacements have observed separatist held territory has ramped up in activity with increased sniper fire and new trenches. Satellite observation has also revealed Russian troops gathering in annexed Crimea and other border installations performing war games involving urban and amphibious combat.  These actions have been seen as threats of possible invasion by Ukraine, yet they believe the possibility of invasion as low, speculating the mobilizations as a possible preparation to annex more territory held by separatists. 

In response to the apparent hostilities, various nations with ties to Ukraine have stepped up to discourage Russia from advancing its military activity further.  The USA for example has announced major sanctions on Russia involving US financial institutions’ abilities to deal in Russian sovereign debts, as well as sectoral sanctions on the Russian economy in general. 

Most likely in a response to the new sanctions, on April 21, the Russian defense minister released plans to withdraw the thousands of troops from the border region. He claims the mass movement of forces were snap checks, a system of drills to test their combat readiness, and now that these exercises are complete the commanders from the 58th and 41st armies as well as involved air divisions have been ordered to return to their permanent bases by May 1st.  

Even with the continued pandemic, it’s still ever important to keep nations with rivalries from entering open conflict, and knowing as much as we can about their tensions and issues arising from them will go a long way towards preventing conflict.