The two countries have been engaged in a conflict with enormous consequences for the world since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Feb. 24, 2022.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has entered its second year. While the fighting remains deadly and devastating, no outcome seems to be on the horizon. It is even the opposite, the fighting having redoubled.
In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to expand conscription, according to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD's latest daily update about this war, published on March 18, asserted that Russia is likely to expand conscription to increase its military strength.
The UK government said that Russian MPs are debating a bill to extend the age of conscription, currently between 18 and 27 years, to between 21 and 30. Many young people between the ages of 18 and 21 are now claiming to be exempt on the grounds that they are in higher education.
A War That Is Gaining in Intensity
"The Russian authorities are likely preparing to facilitate wider military conscription to resource its military requirements," the MoD said. "On 13 March 2023, Russian Duma deputies introduced a bill to change the age bracket for conscription to men aged 21-30 years, from the current 18-27. The law is likely to be passed, and would come into force in January 2024.
"The authorities are highly likely changing the age bracket to bolster troop numbers by ensuring that students are eventually forced to serve. Even if Russia continues to refrain from deploying conscripts in the war, extra conscripts will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight," the MoD said.
These Russian efforts clearly suggest that the end of the conflict, which has already claimed thousands of lives and forced millions to flee their homes, is not expected anytime soon.
It is in this context that Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Free Report and founder of SpaceX, has just made a claim that this conflict, which started with the Russian invasion, was inevitable. The billionaire, who supplies Ukraine with Starlink, uses an image to explain his point.
'Peace Was Never an Option'
In the image, a chicken is standing on a parking lot, in front of a KFC fast food restaurant. This appears as a provocation on the part of the chicken, which normally would do anything to never end up near a KFC, given the brand's business is based on a fried chicken concept.
Consequently, being so close to the enemy, the chicken should not be surprised if it ends up paying the consequences at some point. Basically, by fraternizing with the enemy, the chicken should expect some repercussions.
Musk accompanies the image with a sentence: "Peace was never an option," the billionaire asserted.
KFC here seems to be the West and especially NATO and the European Union, while the chicken seems to symbolize Ukraine. The chicken has fraternized with the enemy of Russia. It was therefore inevitable that Moscow would react.
Musk has been pleading for several months for a peaceful solution to the Russia war in Ukraine, but his appeals remain without success.
Putin considers NATO and the European Union to be threats to his country's sovereignty. In December 2021, Russia had publicly formulated demands, asking all members of the North Atlantic alliance to commit never to expand NATO again and to carry out no "military activity on the territory of Ukraine and in other countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia".
The Kremlin also wanted to prohibit the United States from establishing military bases in all former Soviet Union countries that are not members of NATO and even from "developing bilateral military cooperation" with these states.
With these demands made publicly, which is unusual in the hushed world of diplomacy, Russia was saying loud and clear that its security was threatened by 30 years of successive expansions of NATO, the powerful military alliance between Americans and Europeans born off the Cold War and the confrontation of the West with the former Soviet Union.
Moscow made Ukraine's possible membership a red line. Thus, before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia wanted to obtain a clear commitment from the West concerning the request by Ukraine to join NATO.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West was quick to expand its military influence beyond the Iron Curtain. In 1999, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO. They were followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Since then, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and finally the Republic of North Macedonia, in 2020, have also become members of the Alliance and benefit from its protection in the event of a conflict with a third country.
In just over 20 years, Russia has witnessed the expansion of NATO by 14 countries which, to varying degrees, had been within its sphere of influence for decades.