Ukraine Crisis: From Belarus to Japan, where are the countries? | NATO News

Ukraine has been on edge for almost two months as Russian troops gather on its border.

Russia insists the troops are only there to defend the country from NATO’s expanded presence in the region, but Western intelligence officials argue Moscow’s military buildup could signal the start of a ground invasion.

Moscow has been unhappy since a protest movement ousted a pro-Russian government in 2014.

Though Russia insists it has no military intentions, it also says talks intended to de-escalate the situation must include NATO’s pledge not to let Ukraine join and to keep forces out of Eastern Europe.

Al Jazeera takes a look at how world powers have responded to the rapidly unfolding crisis:

United States

President Joe Biden said he would consider imposing economic sanctions on Vladimir Putin personally if the Russian president orders a new attack on Ukraine.

Despite warning about sanctions, the US leader said he had “no intention” of sending troops to Ukraine.

There is also the question of energy supply, since Russia has the largest natural gas reserves in the world.

Senior Biden administration officials said the US is in talks with major energy-producing countries and companies around the world about a possible diversion of supplies to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine.

European Union

EU Council President Charles Michel expressed his solidarity with Ukraine on Wednesday, saying: “A threat to Ukraine is a threat to Europe.”

EU Council President Charles Michel [File: Francisco Seco/Pool/AP Photo]

United Kingdom

The UK has denounced Russia’s military build-up near its border with Ukraine.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday Britain would not hesitate to impose sanctions on Russia if it decides to invade Ukraine.

“We in the UK will have no hesitation in increasing our national sanctions against Russia in response to any President [Vladimir] Putin can do and the house [of Commons] will hear more about it soon,” Johnson told Parliament.

Johnson said Britain will seek to contribute to any new NATO operations to protect its allies in Europe should Russia invade Ukraine.

If Putin’s goal was to keep NATO forces off Russia’s borders, then “an invasion of Ukraine could hardly be more counterproductive,” he said.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron said Russia would pay a heavy price if it decided to attack Ukraine, although he welcomed the dialogue with Moscow.

He has also expressed his country’s willingness to send troops to Romania to serve under NATO command, a move welcomed by Bucharest.

Germany

Germany has expressed its support for Ukraine throughout the crisis but, unlike other NATO members, has announced that it will not supply arms to Kiev.

In February “a complete field hospital will be handed over, including the necessary training, all co-financed by Germany in the amount of 5.3 million euros [$6m]’ German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht recently told reporters.

“Arms deliveries would not be helpful at the moment – that is the consensus in the federal government,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, the head of Germany’s navy, resigned in early January after coming under fire at home and abroad for saying Ukraine would never regain the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

The Nord Stream 2 project, a Russian pipeline stretching from Siberia to Germany, has complicated Berlin’s position. Read more about it here.

Ukrainian soldiers walk at the dividing line from pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka in Ukraine's Donetsk regionUkrainian soldiers walk at the dividing line from pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine [File: Andriy Dubchak/AP Photo]

Finland

Finland, which is not a member of NATO and has a long border and troubled history with Russia, has increased its military preparedness in the face of Russia’s military buildup.

Colonel Petteri Kajanmaa, head of the Department of Warfare at Finland’s National Defense University, said on behalf of the armed forces that instability in the Baltic Sea region was due to Russia’s unpredictability.

“She [the Russians] have made their goals clear, but we don’t know what actions they are prepared to take,” he said recently.

Belarus

Belarus, a close ally of Putin, shares borders with both Russia and Ukraine.

President Alexander Lukashenko is strengthening his forces on the border with Ukraine and will soon hold joint exercises with Russia.

“I was forced [to] do because the situation on the border with Ukraine is no better than on the border with Poland,” he said, referring to the recent migrant crisis.

Lukashenko said the joint maneuvers with Russia would be carried out on Belarus’ western border and in the south of the country, where it borders with Ukraine.

Washington has warned Minsk that his government could face reprisals if it helps Russia invade Ukraine.

Italy

Italy’s defense minister has said his country will honor its NATO commitments in the Ukraine crisis while emphasizing the need for a peaceful solution.

Italy’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it was determined to maintain dialogue with Moscow and insisted on talks to find a peaceful solution.

At the same time, President Putin held a video call with Italian business leaders focused on strengthening economic ties.

Croatia

Croatia has sent mixed signals.

President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday Croatia would pull out of Ukraine should “one of the most corrupt countries in the world” come into conflict with Russia.

“It’s all happening in the Russian antechamber,” the president said, adding that an agreement must be reached “that takes into account Russia’s security needs.”

The outbreak prompted Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to issue a rebuttal later on Tuesday, according to the Hina news agency.

“I would like to apologize to Ukraine on behalf of the Croatian government,” he said, noting that Ukraine was one of the first countries to recognize Croatian statehood in 1991, when it emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Ukrainian soldier cleans a gun at positions on a front line near the village of AvdiivkaA Ukrainian soldier cleans a weapon at frontline positions near the village of Avdiivka, not far from Donetsk, which is controlled by pro-Russian fighters [Stanislav Kozliuk/EPA]

Japan

Japan has announced that it will work closely with the United States in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Discussing with the US what would happen in the event of an invasion during a conference call summit last week, a Japanese government spokesman said.

Romania

President Klaus Iohannis said Romania is in talks with the US and France on how to increase troop levels in his country, which he says is ready to host an increased NATO military presence.

“I have consistently said that we are ready to accommodate an increased Allied presence on our territory,” Iohannis said.

“The current crisis proves once again that … the consolidation of the Allied presence on the eastern flank, including in our country, is very important,” he said.

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