With one year passing by since Russian forces have entered into Ukraine, the tension is still yet to be resolved and in the meantime millions have been forced to flee their homes and over 20.000 people have been killed. It is hard to determine a starting point for when the war in Ukraine has begun. Even though the wider invasion started in 2022, the war can be traced back to 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine. The Cold War, which concluded three decades ago,  also impacted Europe and the world from the geopolitical perspective. These two conflicts are different, but looking at the motives and the support countries have provided to different factions leads to the claim that these two situations are not so different.

The Cold War was a period of heightened geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, with Europe at the forefront of this conflict. Following World War II, Europe was divided into two competing spheres of influence: the Western Bloc, led by the United States, and the Eastern Bloc, led by the Soviet Union. This division led to the creation of military alliances, with NATO formed in response to the perceived Soviet threat. The Cold War also saw the development of nuclear weapons and the threat of mutually assured destruction. Europe became the focus of the East-West conflict, with the division of Germany and the construction of the Berlin Wall symbolizing the divide between the two blocs.

In contrast, the war in Ukraine is a more localized conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The conflict began in 2014 when pro-Russian separatists seized control of the Crimean Peninsula and declared independence from Ukraine. The conflict then spread to the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists continue to fight against the Ukrainian military. The conflict has led to the deaths of thousands of people, displacement of millions, and strained relations between Russia and the West.

As stated, looking at their geopolitical context, they seem to be very different issues as the Cold War involved more countries and more threats. One key difference between the two periods is the nature of the conflict. While the Cold War was a global conflict with two superpowers competing for dominance, the war in Ukraine is a more localized conflict between two neighboring countries. The Cold War was characterized by a significant arms race and the development of new technologies, while the war in Ukraine has largely been fought using conventional weapons. Looking at the statements above, on paper they are completely different, but in reality these facts are not so clear.

Let’s look at the involvement of countries for example. On paper, the conflict is between two parties: Russia and Ukraine. However, the Western support of Ukraine with financial, military and political aid are not to be underestimated. To back this up with data, the US administration has committed 30 billion USD to Ukraine since the conflict began. Not only that but the UK and NATO have supplied Ukraine with extreme amounts of financial and military aid. When you look at the situation here, the similarity of this conflict and the proxy wars like the Vietnam War or the Korean War can be seen: Two(?) of the most powerful countries who are indirectly in a war with each other. However, this is not the only similarity. When you look at the events leading up to Russia invading Ukraine, we can see that there is a Western urge to include Ukraine in the EU which is something that is completely fine to desire. More countries in NATO means that officially, the number of the allies of the NATO countries will increase. We have seen a similar approach by NATO in their desire to include Finland and Sweden. More countries in the EU means more economic power to the EU and a big step into maintaining European integration. However, there is one thing that cannot be ignored and that is the fact that the Western powerhouses of these organizations’ urge to expand towards the East. But what has this led to right now?

What has happened in Europe due to this conflict is that the Western countries/NATO allies have politically outcast arguably the most powerful country in the East which is a neighbor to Europe, similar to what happened in the Cold War when NATO allies followed the same policy against Soviet Russia. It has led to Europe being on alert for any possible attacks coming from Russia which was also the climate back in the Cold War. 

The main difference here is that the West has been following fairly peaceful policies by trying to resolve the conflict with diplomatic efforts such as the Minsk agreements, which aim to de-escalate the conflict and find a political solution to the crisis. This approach was not exactly the case back in the Cold War which had resulted in the whole situation escalating even further leading to threats of nuclear war. A threat of nuclear war, within this case, can still be said to be present as the New START Treaty between the US and Russia that limits both sides’ nuclear powerhouses expires in February 2026 and there seems to be no indications that a new treaty will be considered, considering the tension between the US and Russia due to the war. It is also beneficial to note that with the ongoing war in Ukraine, there is no guarantee that the present treaty will not fall apart before February 2026.

The Cold War had far-reaching consequences for Europe and the world. The division of Germany, which was reunified after the fall of the Soviet Union, had lasting effects on the country and its people. The arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union led to a significant increase in military spending, with both sides developing new technologies such as ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, and submarines. The Cold War also led to a range of proxy conflicts around the world, including in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. However, despite the threat of nuclear war, the Cold War did not result in a direct military conflict between the two superpowers.

The outcomes of the war in Ukraine are still unfolding, but it has already had a significant impact on the region. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, and the recently annexed regions such as Zaproizhzhia, Luhansk, Donetsk and such has been widely condemned by the international community, with sanctions imposed on Russia in response. These sanctions include banning importations of coal and crude oil, to economic sanctions such as restriction of Russian banks like VEB. The conflict has also highlighted the ongoing tension between Ukraine and Russia, as well as the broader geopolitical struggles between Russia and the West. The conflict has led to the displacement of millions of people and has had a devastating impact on the Ukrainian economy. The conflict has also led to a range of international responses, including sanctions and diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.

Another key difference is the level of international involvement in the conflict. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union often supported opposing sides in proxy conflicts around the world. In contrast, the war in Ukraine has largely been fought between Ukraine and Russia,

However, looking at the two conflicts from a perspective of optimism, both periods have highlighted the importance of diplomacy, international cooperation, and conflict resolution in maintaining peace and stability. The Cold War saw the development of a range of arms control agreements, while the war in Ukraine has led to a range of diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.

Overall, while the Cold War and the war in Ukraine are distinct periods with different geopolitical contexts and outcomes, both periods have highlighted the importance of international cooperation and conflict resolution in maintaining peace and stability in Europe and the world.


  1.  “Ukraine.” U.S. Agency for International Development, 3 Mar. 2023, www.usaid.gov/ukraine Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.
  2. Duggal, Hanna. “Infographic: How Much Have NATO Members Spent on Ukraine?” www.aljazeera.com, www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/15/infographic-how-much-have-nato-members-spent-on-ukraine.
  3. NATO. “Brussels Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021.” NATO, 14 June 2021, www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_185000.htm.
  4. Kirby, Jen. “How Turkey Is Ruining NATO’s Moment of Unity.” Vox, 4 Feb. 2023, www.vox.com/world/23581876/turkey-sweden-finland-nato-membership. Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.
  5. Aljazeera. “Ukraine-Russia Crisis: What Is the Minsk Agreement?” Www.aljazeera.com, 9 Feb. 2022, www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/9/what-is-the-minsk-agreement-and-why-is-it-relevant-now.
  6. Tollefson, Jeff. “Is Nuclear War More Likely after Russia’s Suspension of the New START Treaty?” Nature, 7 Mar. 2023, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00679-w, https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-00679-w. Accessed 12 Mar. 2023.
  7. “Biden Bans Russian Oil, Warns of Higher Prices at US Pumps.” AP NEWS, 8 Mar. 2022, apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-war-us-russia-oil-ban-120c0152cf310a5b593f6ae7a2857e62.
  8. Holland, Steve, et al. “Biden Puts Sanctions on Russian Banks and Elites as He Says Ukraine Invasion Has Begun.” Reuters, 23 Feb. 2022, www.reuters.com/world/white-house-announce-fresh-sanctions-russia-over-ukraine-2022-02-22/. Accessed 12 Mar. 2023.
  9. “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Diplomatic Solutions Considered to Bring Conflict to an End.” www.ibanet.org, www.ibanet.org/Russia-invasion-of-Ukraine-Diplomatic-solutions-to-bring-conflict-to-an-end.