Take 2: War brewing in Eastern Europe, Olympic figure skating history

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nations relevant news for the community.

Hannah Gonzalez

The Take 2 series features brief weekly updates on the state or nation’s relevant news for the community.

Eastern Europe conflict: On Feb. 2, President Joe Biden’s administration announced the deployment of nearly 3,000 American troops to eastern Europe amid a standoff with Russia over Ukraine. Russia has gathered as many as 130,000 troops along parts of the Ukrainian border, an act of aggression that could spiral into the largest military conflict in Europe in decades. The standoff is about the future of Ukraine, and for Russian President Vladimir to cement his legacy by reasserting Russia’s influence in Europe and the world. Moscow is making the necessary preparations for war: moving more military equipment, medical units and even blood to the front lines. As of Feb. 8, the United States deployed additional troops to Romania, Poland and Germany in an effort to ensure the defense of NATO allies. Top Russian military commanders recently flew into Belarus, a country between Russia, Ukraine and Poland, to begin drills which involved thousands of Russian troops and sophisticated weapons systems like air missiles, air defense systems and fighter jets. U.S. and European officials worry the exercise could put Russian forces in position for a multipronged invasion of Ukraine, with troops invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia in the east.

Significance: “It’s important that we send a strong signal to Mr. Putin and, frankly, to the world that NATO matters to the United States and it matters to our allies,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The United States does not believe conflict is inevitable. They have offered Russia a path to de-escalate, but they will take all prudent measures to assure their own security and that of their allies. On Feb. 9, the Biden administration readied plans for U.S. military forces to help evacuate Americans once they cross into Poland should Russia attack Ukraine. Officials are concerned that if hostilities break out between Russia and Ukraine, Americans in Ukraine will have limited options to exit. The Biden administration is attempting to find a diplomatic solution by readying a barrage of economic sanctions should Russia attack and authorizing the transfer of some weapons and other equipment to Ukraine. The moves are intended to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine and ultimately avert war in eastern Europe. 

Russian figure skater makes Olympic history: 15-year-old figure skater, Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee became the first woman to land any quad jump at the Winter Olympics. Not only did she land one, Vaieva successfully completed two of the three quads she attempted during her women’s long program in the team figure skating event on Monday. However, Valieva is at the center of the biggest scandal of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The teenager is controversially allowed to skate at the women’s event, despite a positive test for a banned substance in late December that was made public last week. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Feb. 14 that Valieva will be allowed to compete in the Beijing Olympics because as she is under the age of 16, she is a “protected person” under the doping agency’s rules, meaning that she may not have full agency over decisions about medications or other substances she may take. Also factored into the decision was the fact that the positive test occurred on Dec. 25, before Jan. 27, which is when Olympic jurisdiction over doping testing begins

Significance: Olympic officials say there will be no medal ceremony if she finishes in the top three although Valieva is a favorite and is expected to get gold. There will also be no ceremony for the team figure skating event, meaning athletes including U.S. figure skaters will leave the Olympics without their medals. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Feb. 14 released a statement expressing disappointment after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cleared Valieva for competition. “We are devastated that [the U.S. figure skating team] will leave Beijing without their medals in hand, but we appreciate the intention of the IOC to ensure the right medals are awarded to the right individuals,” the statement said.