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Maps You Should Know 1

NATO vs Russia

Maps You Should Know is a series of articles which will provide you relevant information about a certain topic using maps, graphs and charts.
This episode will be focused on the current conflict in Ukraine, where Russia is trying to invade its neighbour country while the West is uniting to counter this offensive.

NATO Russia map

Geographical representation of all NATO member countries, Russia and Ukraine

(made with MapChart)

NATO vs Russia armed forces statistics

Side-by-side comparison of the military potential of NATO vs. Russia as of March 2nd, 2022
(made with PowerBI, data obtained from Statista, available here)

The previous images give us an idea about the geographical distribution as well as the military capabilities of both NATO and Russia, the main players in the current conflict in Ukraine.
Before looking into the numbers, it is important to note that NATO is composed of 30 member countries, amounting to a total population of 951 million against the 144 million people of Russian nationality (as of July 2021).

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, two days after Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree recognising the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin has given multiple reasons for this invasion, some historical (such as the fact the Russia does not recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian sovereignity, an issue dating back to the Kievan Rus up to the Soviet Union era) and some more recent, claiming that his goal is to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine and to free Russian people living under oppression in Eastern Ukraine. These claims, however, have quickly been exposed as as a mere pretext for the (attempted) invasion of a country with tremendous inherent geopolitical benefits for the invader.

This attack from Russia has caused an enormous backlash, mainly in Western countries, where a never-seen-before cooperation quickly counter-attacked. This has, however, revolved mainly around heavy economic sanctions against Russia and provision of supplies and weapons to Ukraine, since this country is not a member of NATO and, as such, article 5 of collective defense does not apply.

Furthermore, China, a country with which Russia has been improving its relationship as of late, has not yet shown a definite stance in this conflict, not participating in the economic sanctions and publicly acknowledging Russia’s concerns regarding Western expansion, but also condemning the invasion and advocating for a quick and diplomatic solution to the conflict.

The numbers above show us a militarily prepared Russia which, although doesn’t match NATO’s army forces on most fronts, presents a serious global threat, namely due to its nuclear arsenal. Additionally, another possible consequence of this conflict is increased terrorism and cyberterrorism, since the civil and economic unrest felt in the region might open the door for extremist groups to go on the offensive.

What do you think? Will Russia be able to invade Ukraine, possibly annexing parts of the country and set up a puppet government? Or will Ukraine and the West successfully fend off this offensive? Let us down know below!

by YKW // 12 March 2022

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