The UK participates in many international organisations to try to minimise conflict and ensure cooperation. For example:
- United Nations (UN): founded in 1945 to maintain peace. It is made up of 193 member states and the UN tries to solve issues that can’t be dealt with by individual countries e.g. helping countries to develop sustainably and delivering aid during crises.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) : group of 28 countries, including the USA and many European countries, who work together to ensure their own security. They try to prevent conflict by promoting cooperation and to resolve conflict by political means (e.g. overseeing negotiations) and military means (as a last resort).
- Group of Seven (G7): seven members (UK, USA, France, Canada, Japan, Germany and Italy) who meet once per year to discuss relevant issues, including economic policies, conflict, energy supply and security, and come to agreements about how best to approach them.
UK’s involvement in resolving conflict in Ukraine
- Ukraine is an eastern European country bordered by Russia to the north and east. It used to form part of the USSR and became independent in 1991.
- The focus of the current conflcit is in Crimea, in southern Ukraine. Crimea is a peninsula of land stretching out from southern Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This regionally has close historical links to Russia with many of its people speaking Russian rather than Ukrainian. Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in the city of Sevastopol.
- In 2013, supported by Russia, the Ukrainian government decided not to form closer trade links with the EU but instead to strengthen their links to Russia. This was unpopular with many Ukrainians, who wanted closer links with western Europe, which resulted in many protests and violence.
- In 2014, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was driven out of office by violent protests in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. In response, the Russian President, Vladmir Putin, took control of Crimea to support the large number of its citizens living there and moved large numbers of Russia troops to the Russia-Ukraine border. Ever since, there has been fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian Ukrainians. Crimea voted in a referendum to join Russia but this has not been recognised by countries in the West. The conflict has since spread to many parts of eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian government military forces have clashed with pro-Russian seperatists.
International organisations, of which the UK is a member, have been trying to resolve this conflict:
NATO: trying to resolve the conflict by encourageing negotations between the two sides. In 2015, they also created a rapid response force of approximately 5000 soldiers who were stationed in surrounding countries to deter future attempts by Russia to gain territory. The leadership of the rapid responses force rotates between NATO members and the UK will lead it in 2017 as well as supplying troops and fighter jets.
UN: supporting peace talks between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders and providing aid (e.g. food, medicines and blankets) to people who have been displaced by the fighting. In 2015, the UK gave £15 million in aid to Ukraine, as well as military support and training for the Ukrainian army.
G7: this used to be the G8 but the other member countries forced out Russia in 2014, after it seized Crimea. The member countries, including the UK, have imposed sanctions on Russia e.g. restricting the amount of money Russian banks can borrow and limiting trade with Russia. By threatening the Russian economy, they hope to make Russia agree to a ceasefire and the removal of troops from Ukraine’s borders.