In the newest flashpoint between the opposing factions, Russia has exposed its hand in reaction to NATO's desire to expand its borders. But, as the conflict in Ukraine drags on, who will be the first to cave in
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is reaching its third month, and throughout that time, Moscow and NATO have engaged in a series of sabre rattling exercises against one another. The newest development has seen Finland and Sweden apply for NATO membership, provoking a new warning from Kremlin authorities.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February spurred the respective governments of Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.
Despite Russia's warnings, US President Joe Biden has stated that the Nordic countries have his "full, entire, and complete support."
Moscow responded on Friday, announcing the formation of "12 military units and divisions" in the country's northwestern region.
The back-and-forth retaliations are the latest example of the two nations jockeying for status on the global arena
Who will back down first: Russia or NATO? There are two situations that could lead to either of them yielding.
Russia shares a border with a number of NATO members
So, what would it take for Russia and NATO to give each other ground?
The danger of nuclear weapons and their use in combat is a strong enough deterrent for both parties to avoid a full-fledged war.
Because Kyiv is neither a member of NATO or the European Union, Russia has mostly avoided direct engagement in the Ukraine conflict (EU).
Member countries are only bound to defend a fellow partner when they face armed assault, according to NATO's official charter.
Joe Biden has stated that the Nordic countries have his "complete, total, and total support
As a result, Russia may decide not to conduct similar incursions into neighboring countries like the Baltic states.
However, if President Putin invaded another non-NATO country, the alliance would have to make a judgment about its level of commitment once more.
Several mystery explosions in the breakaway Moldovan province of Transnistria, for example, have raised suspicions that Moscow is laying the groundwork for a fresh invasion
The region is primarily Russian-speaking, and there is already a garrison of 1,500 Russian troops stationed there.
Russia's military might be used to invade another non-NATO country, according to President Putin
It is recognized as part of Moldova internationally, but it has been under the hands of separatists in a de-facto government since 1992.
Despite the fact that Russia does not recognize Transnistria as an independent country, it preserves its independence today thanks to Russian military assistance.
Members of NATO may take a stance similar to what is now being observed in Ukraine in order to avoid a global conflict from breaking out.
However, doing so risks setting a hazardous precedent and encouraging President Putin's long-term aspirations.
If the conflict in Ukraine drags on, Russia may be forced to make concessions on its military aims.
More than 25,000 Russian servicemen have been killed in the fighting, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
Moscow denies the estimates, but it has made significant headway in the country's east.
Indeed, the Kremlin may opt to pause its progress and seek a secession agreement with Kyiv at this juncture.
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