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Russia and the Near Abroad.

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Russia and the Near Abroad
by Oxana Shevel
1
OXANA SHEVEL is an associate professor in the Department of
Political Science at Tufts University and an Associate at the Davis
Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Ukrainian Re-
search Institute at Harvard University. She is the author of Migra-
tion, Refugee Policy, and State Building in Postcommunist Europe
(Cambridge 2011). The book received the 2012 American Associa-
tion of Ukrainian Studies (AAUS) book prize. Shevel holds a PhD in
Government from Harvard University, am M.Phil in International
Relations from the University of Cambridge in England.
A man poses with a Russian ag in front of a Black Sea Fleet ship in Sevastopol, Ukraine on Mar. 16, 2014. (HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/DPA/CORBIS)
Years after the end of the Cold War, the question of
whether Russia is a stabilizing or destabilizing power,
globally and in the post-Soviet region, has yet to be
answered. Relations between Russia and its neighbors—as
well as among Russia, the U.S. and other Western powers—
have featured instances of both cooperation and conict. On
one hand, Russia allowed the Soviet Union to disintegrate
largely peacefully and cooperated with the West on a range
of issues, including German reunication, nuclear contain-
ment of Iran and North Korea, counterterrorism operations in
Afghanistan, and chemical weapons removal in Syria.
On the other hand, the West and Russia have butted heads
over the Yugoslav war (1991–99) and Kosovo’s indepen-
dence, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO)
eastward expansion, and the Russian-Georgian war (2008).
Between Russia and its neighbors, points of contention have
included the treatment of Russians and Russian-speakers in
the former Soviet republics, as well as the newly independent
states’ geopolitical orientation between Russia and the West.
Over the past year, these tensions reached crisis propor-
tion. Russia’s response to street protests known as the Euro-
maidan, or “Euro Square,” and the overthrow of Ukrainian
president Viktor Yanukovych, as well as its annexation of
Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014, plunged Rus-
sia’s relations with the West to a new low.
How and why did it come to this? Are Russia’s actions in
Ukraine a prelude to further aggressive acts in the areas of its
former dominance? What can be done to contain Russia, and is
it possible to restore cooperative relations between Russia and
Ukraine, and Russia and the West, and if so, how? To answer
these questions we need to look into the causes of the current
crisis and drivers of Russian foreign policy in its neighborhood
and in relations with the West. n
GREAT DECISIONS   2015
6
1
strong showing in the 1993 legislative
elections by Communists and national-
ists opposed to Yeltsin’s domestic and
foreign policy course, the discourse crit-
ical of Russia’s bowing to Western inter-
ests grew in prominence and popularity.
By 1996 Kozyrev was out of the job,
and Russia’s cooperation with the West
was marred by, on one hand, Western
criticism of Russia’s war in Chechnya
and, on the other, Russian criticism of
NATO action against Bosnian Serbs and
plans for expansion of the Alliance.
The clash that led to the silencing of
liberal voices in Russia’s foreign poli-
cy had been silenced by the middle of
the 1990s and has historical parallels.
As far back as the pre-Soviet era, the
Russian intellectual tradition has been
split between the “Westernizers” and
“Slavophiles.” Westernizers saw Rus-
sia as a part of Western civilization and
advocated forming Russia in the West’s
image; Slavophiles regarded Russia as
a unique and exceptional civilization—
one that was not only morally superior
to the West, but whose national interests
were by denition anti-Western. In the
post-Soviet period, the “Westernizers”
(at times called Atlantists) favored Rus-
sian integration into Western political
and economic institutions, as well as
a democratization and marketization
agenda. They stood in opposition to
the “Slavophiles” (often referred to as
Eurasianists), who were suspicious of
the West and saw Russia as a center of
Eurasian civilization, which included
the post-Soviet region but excluded
the West. Neither the Westernizers nor
the Atlantists had stood at the helm of
Russian state policies unchallenged for
long, so the backlash against unabash-
edly pro-Western policies of the late
Gorbachev and early Yeltsin era can be
seen as a repeat of this historical pattern.
However, there have been more
immediate reasons as to why the pro-
Western period following dissolution of
the USSR proved to be so short-lived.
This period in the early 1990s coincided
with economic collapse that resulted in
a sharp drop in living standards and im-
Foreign policy in the 1990s
Foreign policy of the post-Soviet
Russia has its origins in the late So-
viet period. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev
took leadership of the Communist Party
of the Soviet Union and launched a new
approach in relations with the West.
Gorbachev advocated the philosophy of
“new thinking,” which postulated that
the Union of Soviet Socialist Repub-
lics (USSR) and the West could coexist
and pursue common interests. Nuclear
disarmament, the withdrawal of Soviet
troops from Afghanistan, the reunica-
tion of Germany, and the fall of Com-
munism in the Eastern European Soviet
satellite states in 1989–1990 were all
made possible by Gorbachev’s “new
thinking.” But the seeds of later tensions
between Russia and the West were sown
as well. When Gorbachev agreed to the
reunication of Germany, he was given
informal promises that NATO would not
expand to the east. Such promises were
never formalized, and Gorbachev’s
USSR received substantial financial
aid for not opposing reunication. Nev-
ertheless, in later years, when NATO
expanded east of united Germany to
former Soviet block countries, and by
2004, to three of the former Soviet re-
publics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania),
NATO expansion was bitterly resented
in Russia. Russian leaders and political
commentators claimed the West cheated
Russia by breaking its earlier promise.
Putin called NATO expansion “a direct
threat to the security of our country.”
The dissolution of the Soviet Union
at the end of December 1991 ushered
the rst phase of Russian foreign policy
in the post-Soviet period. Russia’s new
foreign policy was initially shaped by
pro-Western liberals, who believed that
Russia’s interests were best served by
pursuing closer ties and integration
into a Euro-Atlantic world. These new
Russian leaders saw Russia as an or-
ganic part of Western civilization; in
the words of Russian liberal foreign
minister Andrei Kozyrev, they wanted
it to become a “normal” Western coun-
try. The expectation was that the West
would help Russia transition to a mar-
ket economy and democratic system,
integrate it into transatlantic economic
and security institutions and overall
treat it as an equal. This pro-Western
approach was helped by Russian Presi-
dent Boris Yeltsin’s and U.S. President
Bill Clinton’s friendship.
As early as 1993 the liberal idea of
cooperation and common interests with
the West faced challenges from pow-
erful forces within Russia. Following
Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev signs a treaty prohibiting the Communist Party
on the territory on Aug. 23, 1991. (GEORGES DE KEERLE/SYGMA/CORBIS)
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD 1
7
posed tremendous material hardship on
Russian citizens. In this context, the rhet-
oric of Yeltsin’s opponents—who argued
that the West was actively weakening,
or at least not sufciently aiding, Russia
by imposing free-market capitalism and
fostering the rise of oligarchs—fell on
receptive ears.
Yet another factor contributing to
the abandonment of an explicitly pro-
Western Russian foreign policy were the
ethno-cultural consequences of the disin-
tegration of the USSR. The USSR’s col-
lapse left Russia with borders that mir-
rored its reach in the 17th century. Over-
night, some 25 million ethnic Russians
and 33 million Russian-speakers found
themselves cut off from the new Russian
state. Russians in the “near abroad”—the
term coined in Russia in the early 1990s
to refer to the former Soviet states, which
reected the perception that they are not
“really” foreign—became a national
minority and no longer members of the
leading nationality as they had been in
the Soviet era. In some cases ethnic Rus-
sians even faced discrimination in citi-
zenship and employment matters. As a
result, millions of former Soviet citizens,
most of them ethnic Russians, moved to
Russia from the former Soviet republics
in the early- and mid-1990s. Migration
came with its own set of socio-economic
burdens, as the government had pledged
to assist migrants and adopted special
legislation to this effect. Mass migration
of Russian-speakers from neighboring
states also fostered resentment against
the governments’ of the newly indepen-
dent states Russians were fleeing and
against the West.
This “ethnic unmixing” was prompt-
ed by a number of factors: citizenship
denial in Latvia and Estonia; language
policies in most state that elevated the
status of titular languages, often at the
expense of Russian; economic hard-
ship; and armed conflicts that flared
in some of the USSR successor states,
such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova
and Tajikistan. Many in Russia felt
that the West, while criticizing Russia
for rights abuses in Chechnya, turned
a blind eye to the infringement of the
rights of ethnic Russians in the post-
Soviet states, particularly in Western-
aligned Estonia and Latvia. For similar
reasons, the West and Russia also butted
heads with regards to Russian support
for separatists in breakaway regions,
such as Transdniestria in Moldova and
Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Geor-
gia. While Russia presented its support
of separatists in these regions as a de-
fense of the rights of Russian-speaking
minorities against rising nationalism,
Western governments saw as Russia’s
meddling in its newly independent
neighbors’ affairs and as attempts to
keep them from leaving Russia’s orbit
by creating simmering pockets of do-
mestic instability that challenged their
territorial integrity.
The attempt to turn Russia into a
“normal” Western state did not suc-
ceed, and many in Russia began to
doubt that the transformation was in
their interests. Western support was
called into question as well. The West
supported Yeltsin’s policies of question-
able democratic merit, which instigated
the country’s economic collapse and
culminated in the rise of wealthy oli-
garchs. Western governments backed
Yeltsin in his struggle with a Com-
munist and nationalist-dominated par-
liament, and they took his side when
Yeltsin ordered troops to shell the leg-
islature in October 1993 during consti-
tutional crisis. In the 1996 presidential
elections, when an unpopular Yeltsin
was challenged by the hardline leader
of an unreformed Russian Communist
party, Western governments stood by
Yeltsin the “democrat,” who narrowly
won by means questionable from the
point of view of democratic process.
Among such means was the infamous
“loans-for-shares” scheme, wherein the
state allowed a select group of Russian
businessmen to take control of a dozen
key state owned enterprises, including
major parts of the energy, telecommu-
nications, and metallurgical sectors, in
return for receiving some $800 million
in loans for the federal budget. The jus-
tification of the loans-for-shares was
that it would create a permanent capi-
talist class with a stake in the Russian
market. Instead, loans-for-shares gave
rise to the so-called oligarchs, who,
with their great wealth, became an in-
dependent source of political power and
were able to wield vast inuence over
the state during Yeltsin’s second term.
Given the botched process and piti-
ful results of transferring Western eco-
nomic models and democracy during
the Yeltsin years, the second half of the
1990s led many to believe that Russia
needed to pursue its own interests. With
a powerful Communist and nationalist
presence in the legislature, as well as
the growing perception that the West
without taking Russian concerns into
account, there was growing consensus
that following the West’s lead was no
longer an ideal path. n
An elderly homeless woman covers her dog with her coat in a shantytown near the Kremlin.
(PETER TURNLEY/CORBIS)
was not
GREAT DECISIONS   2015
8
1
Foreign policy under Putin
Vladimir Putin rose to political
prominence by developing a repu-
tation for defending Russian interests,
asserting its rightful place as a global su-
perpower, and demonstrating a willing-
ness to restore its damaged pride. These
themes would come to form Russian
foreign policies and its relations with
the West after Putin became president in
2000, but they also underlined Putin’s
meteoric rise from a virtual unknown
in August 1999, when an ailing Yeltsin
appointed him prime minister. As the
new prime minister, Putin vowed to re-
store control of the breakaway Chechen
republic. (The republic had been a site
of lawlessness and gross human rights
abuses in 1996–1999, after Russia lost
de facto control of the republic follow-
ing the 1994–1996 war.) Putin’s asser-
tive stance against the Chechen separat-
ists and his tough language—including
his infamous promise to kill Chechen
terrorists “in the outhouses”—catapult-
ed him to popularity. His approval rat-
ing jumped from 31% in August 1999
to 79% in December 1999.
The need for a strong state and the
subordination of private interests were
important elements of Putin’s ideology
before he assumed presidency. In his
1997 dissertation and in a subsequent
article published in 1999, he wrote about
the need for Russia’s mineral resources
and enterprises to be managed—what
he called “national champions”—and-
operated with state interests in mind,
rather than private interests. As presi-
dent, Putin put this vision into practice.
The most iconic case is that of Yu-
kos, then Russia’s largest oil and gas
company, whose owner and Russia’s
richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
was arrested, imprisoned, and lost his
assets. Khodorkovsky’s plight sent a
clear signal to the oligarchs that Putin
would not allow them to maintain inde-
pendence. With his KGB background,
Putin could rely on the support of the
siloviki, or elites from the security and
military sector. Critics argued that the
Yeltsin-era reality of oligarchs wielding
power over the state had been replaced
by a new, and equally undemocratic re-
ality, where siloviki control state polices
and amass personal wealth.
Putin’s rise to power also coincided
with the growth in oil prices, giving him
the fortune to preside over the rst major
economic recovery after the disastrous
1990s. Economic recovery boosted his
popularity at home and allowed him to
lessen Russia’s dependency on Western
loans and other forms of economic aid,
which in turn put it in a stronger position
to pursue more assertive foreign policies.
With the Russian government more
willing and better able to stray from the
West’s path, Western actions, such as
the U.S. circumventing the UN Security
Council to deploy NATO in airstrikes
against Serbia in March 1999 and the
incorporation of Poland, Hungary and
the Czech Republic into NATO the same
year, also contributed to the redenition
of Russian foreign policy goals and strat-
egies vis-à-vis the West and its neigh-
bors. During his rst year in ofce, Putin
signed new editions of Russia’s major
security documents into law—the Na-
tional Security Concept (January 2000),
the Military Doctrine (April 2000) and
the Foreign Policy Concept (June 2000).
If the 1997 National Security Concept
of the Yeltsin era saw internal problems,
not international developments, as the
greatest threat to Russian national se-
curity and regarded the post-Cold War
international system as cooperative
rather than competitive, the 2000 secu-
rity documents saw the current trends
in international politics as threatening
to Russia. The documents considered
Western security policy to be a threat to
Russia and prioritized counter-balancing
such threats with political, military and
economic cooperation with members
of the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS).
By the early 2000s several factors
came together, contributing to and en-
abling a more assertive Russian foreign
policy and a rift in Russia’s relations
with the West: the drastic political and
economic fallout of the 1990s led to a
denitive shift away from earlier West-
ern-oriented policies, Putin’s personal
beliefs in the strong state and great
Russia, the period of economic growth
President-elect Vladimir Putin watches tactical exercises of Russia’s Northern Fleet on in
the Barents Sea on April 6, 2000. (-/EPA/CORBIS)
key strategic
ing them
to be
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD 1
9
under Putin, the West’s unilateral ac-
tions in Kosovo, and NATO’s expan-
sion. None of these factors, however,
ruled out the possibility of cooperation
between Russia and the West on issues
of mutual interest—indeed since Putin
took helm of Russian politics, Russia
cooperated with the West on nuclear
nonproliferation, energy and the so-
called war on terror. Under Putin, Rus-
sian and U.S. leaders signed and rati-
ed the New Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty (start) and Russia joined the
World Trade Organization (WTO).
One popular explanation for Putin’s
activity in Ukraine is NATO expansion.
A number of experts have asserted that
in 2014 the West essentially provoked
Russia to take action in Ukraine in order
to prevent NATO reaching there, as well
after the overthrow of former Ukrainian
president Viktor Yanukovych. Others
have pointed out that while Russia has
consistently opposed NATO expansion
since the mid-1990s, its relations with the
West have evolved and Ukraine’s NATO
membership was not forthcoming. The in-
tention to enlarge NATO was made public
already in 1994, and in 1999 the Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland joined. In
2004 they were followed by seven more
post-Communist countries: Bulgaria,
Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania. The current crisis
in Ukraine took place years after the last
round of NATO expansion. Furthermore,
no moves on the part of Ukraine or NATO
have taken place since 2008, when the al-
liance declared that Ukraine and Georgia
will be able to join one day but took no
further steps to admission. For NATO, en-
largement to the east became essentially
a non-issue after Russia’s incursion into
Georgia in August 2008 in response to
Georgia’s attempt to retake control of the
breakaway region of South Ossetia. Be-
fore Russia’s invasion of Crimea, NATO
membership was mostly a non-issue in
Ukraine. Russian aggression made sup-
port for NATO in Ukraine stronger than it
has ever been, with a November 2014 poll
showing 51% of Ukrainians would vote
for NATO membership in a referendum.
Another causal factor behind the cur-
rent crisis in Ukraine is Putin’s fear of
popular mobilization against his regime.
The political system created in Russia
under Putin is centered on a strong presi-
dency that cannot be challenged by the
opposition in the legislature nor by re-
gional elites or their independent eco-
nomic interests. Political elites loyal to
the president, not voters, control the po-
litical process in the country. This politi-
cal order is claimed to be the model best
able to stimulate economic development,
identify and address key social needs of
the society, and ensure social stability.
The Putin system was also presented as
the return to law and order. Thus, inde-
pendent societal mobilization in Russia’s
backyard on a scale that would have
the potential to unseat governing elites
were seen as threatening because: 1.)
they would encroach on Russia’s sphere
of inuence through the installation of
pro-Western governments in former
Soviet states; 2.) popular revolutions
offered a model of political change and
the destruction of authoritarian regimes
through “people’s power.”
Of all the post-Soviet states, the re-
moval of Ukraine from Russia’s sphere
of inuence by way of a popular revo-
lution was, at least from the Russian
perspective, the worst of the bad out-
comes. Ukraine occupies a special place
in Russia’s historical narrative and na-
tional identity. One historical mythology
that originated in the tsarist period and
perpetuated by the Soviets identified
Ukraine and Russia (together with Be-
larus) as three “branches” of the same
family tree. Kyiv, the center of the me-
dieval kingdom of the Kyivan Rus’, was
“the mother of Russian cities” and the
cradle of Russian identity and culture.
A separate Ukraine with a right to state-
hood, as well as the notion that Ukraine
as a state could pursue “anti-Russian”
policies was anathema in Russia, both
to the elites and to the public. One 2006
over
nor
GREAT DECISIONS   2015
10
1
poll found that 58% of Russians said
that there were no national differences
between Russia and Ukraine; another in
2005 identied that 78% of Russians had
a positive attitude toward the unication
of Russia and Ukraine; yet another poll
in 2007 showed 48% of Russians would
vote for unification in a hypothetical
referendum. Indeed, in April 2008, Pu-
tin told President George W. Bush that
“Ukraine isn’t even a state” and that
“there are only Russians” living in the
south of Ukraine. What Russia saw in
2013–14 was the West attempting to
drive Ukraine away from Russia, and
ultimately into NATO, by supporting
the Euromaidan uprising. To Russia, the
West orchestrated the overthrow of an
autocratic president by means of popular
protests, brought a pro-Western govern-
ment in ofce, and in so doing, was lay-
ing the groundwork for Ukraine’s NATO
membership and a Ukrainian identity
that was distinct, if not outright hostile,
to the narrative of eastern Slavic unity.
U.S.-Russia relations
The roots of the current crisis in Russia-
Ukraine and Russia-West relations goes
back to 2004, when a popular uprising
that became known as the “orange revo-
lution” prevented Yanukovych from be-
coming Ukraine’s third president after
flawed presidential elections. Russia
perceived the orange revolution as a
Western-nanced ploy aimed at install-
ing pro-Western government in Ukraine
under the leadership of Yanukovych’s
opponent, Viktor Yushchenko. Russia’s
elites wanted to prevent Ukraine from
moving westward, as well as a repeat
of an electoral revolution at home. By
2004, Putin had already strengthened
his presidential authority by taming
business tycoons, taking over or clos-
ing all independent national television
channels, and creating a pro-presiden-
tial party that dominated both houses
of parliament. Following events in
Ukraine in 2004, Putin delivered an-
other blow to independent political
activity and civil society by creating
pro-Kremlin youth groups, passing
an electoral law that abolished single-
member constituencies and increased
the electoral threshold for the party list
vote, making it harder for smaller par-
ties and independent candidates to win
seats, as well as tightening state control
over non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), especially ones that received
funding from Western donors.
Russia’s fears that Ukraine’s orange
revolution would lead to either a diffu-
sion of electoral revolution to Russia or
Ukraine’s decisive turn to the West did
not materialize. Yushchenko’s tenure in
Ukraine was marred by constant inght-
ing between the former members of the
“orange” team, in particular between
Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, a
key supporter turned bitter rival. Do-
mestic gridlock damaged prospects for
Ukraine’s integration into Western in-
stitutions, as well as domestic reforms.
The disarray and disappointment that
followed the orange revolution allowed
Yanukovych to win presidential elec-
tions in 2010. Yanukovych relied on the
support of his core electorate in the south
and east, which were alienated by many
of Yushchenko-era cultural policies. He
narrowly defeated Tymoshenko in the
second round (49% to 45%) after Yush-
chenko, eliminated in the first round,
called on his supporters to abstain from
supporting either candidate.
Yanukovych’s electoral victory in
2010 was fairly clean, but regional vote
polarization in Ukraine meant he entered
ofce with the support of one half of the
country and opposition from another.
Yanukovych began pursuing foreign
and cultural policies that further alien-
ated the pro-Western electorate in cen-
tral and western Ukraine. He rammed
through the 25-year extension of the
Russian Black Sea Fleet lease of naval
bases in Sevastopol in Crimea, endorsed
Russia-supported characterization of the
1932–33 killer famine in Ukraine as a
“common tragedy” of all Soviet people
(not ethnic cleansing), and dropped
the language of Euro-Atlantic integra-
tion from the law on the foundations of
Ukrainian domestic and foreign policy.
During his first year in office, Ya-
nukovych not only dismantled the few
accomplishments of the orange period,
namely a free press and stronger parlia-
ment—he also undertook a number of
changes to secure and widen his power,
as well as to clamp down on the opposi-
tion. He had Tymoshenko arrested and
imprisoned on abuse of ofce charges that
independent observers uniformly saw as
politically motivated. He changed rules
governing coalition formation in the leg-
islature to create a pro-presidential major-
ity and pushed the Constitutional Court to
revert a 2004 constitutional reform that
had weakened presidential powers and
strengthened the legislature. Yanukovych
elevated elites from his home region of
Donets‘k to key positions in government
and the judiciary, and the growing power
of the so-called “family”—elites close
to Yanukovych and his sons—as well as
massive corruption were contributing to
the growing dissatisfaction with Yanu-
kovych rule in Ukraine.
The immediate precursor to the cur-
rent crisis was Yanukovych’s decision
in November 2013 not to sign the as-
sociation and free trade agreement with
the European Union. The preparatory
process had been going on for several
years, and in September 2013 Ukraine
still intended to sign it. But the decision
was not simple—the EU put pressure on
Yanukovych to live up to democratic
standards, commit to reforms and re-
lease Tymoshenko from jail. Russia,
for its part, blocked exports from key
Ukrainian industries in the months pre-
ceding the planned signing date to show
that it can make Ukraine, which relied
on Russia for a quarter of its exports,
pay if it turned West. Russia argued that
the Ukraine-EU agreement would have
Supporters for opposition candidate Viktor
Yushchenko demonstrate on Nov. 30, 2004,
in Independence Square. (IGOR KOSTIN/CORBIS)
was
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD 1
11
hurt its economy, a debatable claim.
It ultimately prefers to bring Ukraine
into the Russia-led customs union with
Belarus and Kazakhstan—a plan that
proved to be successful in the case of
Armenia, which had also been in similar
negotiations with the EU but joined the
Russian customs union instead. Russia
welcomed Yanukovych’s decision not
to sign the agreement with the EU.
After the Ukrainian government ad-
opted a decree halting the effort to sign
the agreement one week before an EU
summit on Nov. 21 in Vilnis (where Ya-
nukovych made an unexpected demand
for an astounding 175 billion dollars
through 2017 from the EU in compen-
sation for the costs of adopting Europe-
an standards), popular protests erupted
in Ukraine. The protests, sparked by
Yanukovych’s decision not to sign the
agreement with the EU, became known
as Euromaidan, or “Euro Square.” They
culminated with Yanukovych’s escape
from the country on Feb. 22, 2014.
Russian state media portrayed Eu-
romaidan as a Western-nanced ploy
to unseat Yanukovych and tear Ukraine
away from Russia. A number of West-
ern leaders, including U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, vis-
ited the main protest sight in a show of
support, and U.S. and European gov-
ernments spent billions on the devel-
opment of democratic institutions in
Ukraine and other post-Soviet states
since independence. Euromaidan, how-
ever, was hardly a Western pet project
but a protest movement with complex
causes, and the goals of the movement
also evolved over time as the protests
progressed. As surveys have shown,
what started as a protest for the agree-
ment with the EU became a protest
against police brutality after violent
dispersal of demonstrators by the end
of November. When police violence
was unpunished and escalated, demand
for government resignation grew. Only
at the tail end of the protests did the re-
moval of Yanukovych and a return to
the 2004 constitution take center stage.
Eventual success of the protests to
drive out Yanukovych was a humiliating
defeat for Putin’s strategy on Ukraine.
Putin firmly backed Yanukovych
throughout the protests as he came under
increased pressure from the West. After a
Dec. 17 meeting with Yanukovych, Putin
announced that Russia would buy $15
billion in Ukrainian debt by investing in
Ukrainian bonds and reduce the price of
Russian gas delivered to Ukraine. Rus-
sian leadership also urged Yanukovych
to take an aggressive stance against the
protesters, but the escalation of repres-
sion and violence eventually backred.
On Jan. 16, Yanukovych supporters in
the parliament voted by a show of hands
a law that criminalized much of the pro-
test activity and NGO work. This fate-
ful vote energized but also radicalized
the protests, and the rst three protesters
were killed in clashes with police on Jan.
22. A month later, on Feb.18–20 dozens
of people were shot dead by police on the
streets of Kyiv during the violence fol-
lowing parliament’s decision not to con-
sider returning to the 2004 constitution
limiting presidential powers. The worst
street clashes between police and pro-
testers ensued and were followed by the
police assault on the main protest site,
as well as a subsequent shooting of the
protesters in broad daylight on the morn-
ing of Feb. 20. As violence escalated in
Kyiv, protesters in western and central
Ukraine occupied government buildings.
On the morning of Feb. 21, in a last
ditch effort to reach a compromise and
prevent state collapse and civil war, for-
eign ministers from France, Germany
and Poland, as well as a Russian spe-
cial envoy, brokered an agreement be-
tween Yanukovych and the leaders of
the three largest parties present on the
Euromaidan. The deal—which would
have restored the 2004 constitution in
Ukraine, created a coalition govern-
ment, but left Yanukovych in ofce un-
til the end of 2014—was announced as
protesters were holding public funerals
for those killed in previous days. The
three protest leaders were booed as they
announced the deal. The deal was seen
as too little too late, and the continu-
ation of Yanukovych’s rule unaccept-
able. Protesters called on Yanukovych
to resign, and a commander of one of
the self-defense units protesters formed
promised to drive him out if he does not
resign by the following morning.
But the protesters did not drive Ya-
nukovych out. As the stillborn deal was
announced at the site of protests, Yanu-
kovych’s party began to crumble in par-
liament. On Feb. 21 dozens of lawmak-
ers defected from his party, and the par-
liament voted to dismiss Yanukovych’s
interior minister, overturn the law under
which Tymoshenko was convicted and
jailed, and restore the 2004 constitution.
By the end of the day, police withdrew
from the streets and public buildings,
and Yanukovych fled from his subur-
ban estate by helicopter, rst to the east,
then to Crimea, and finally to Russia.
Evidence subsequently uncovered at his
estate suggested that he was preparing
for his departure ahead of time.
The following day, Feb. 22, the par-
liament met and voted by a constitu-
A teenager waves a Ukrainian national ag over a crowd of pro-European Union activists
on Dec. 8, 2013 in Kiev’s Independence Square. (SERGEI GRITS/AP/CORBIS)
agreed to
GREAT DECISIONS   2015
12
1
tional majority of 328 votes to remove
Yanukovych from office and to hold
early presidential elections on May 25.
Russia called developments in Ukraine
a “constitutional coup” and slammed
the opposition and European leaders
for the failure to uphold the Feb. 21
agreement. The constitutional aspects
of Yanukovych’s removal are complex,
but independent experts described it as
an extra-constitutional development, as
Ukraine’s constitution—similar to the
constitutions of most western states—
did not prescribe a course of action for
the president eeing the country. Rus-
sia’s insistence that the Feb. 21 agree-
ment was the best solution to the crisis
was also not its original position, as the
Russian representative was the only
one of the negotiation participants to
not sign the agreement in endorsement,
possibly seeing it as not sufciently re-
ecting Russia’s preferred outcome.
Was the crisis inevitable?
Was Euromaidan a triumph of people’s
power over a corrupt authoritarian lead-
er, or was it a Western-supported coup
that brought a “fascist junta” to power in
Ukraine? Because Russia has adopted a
vastly different interpretation of the Eu-
romaidan than the West and Ukraine, it
is difcult to speak of an “objective real-
ity” that can be understood by all sides.
This gulf in perceptions has contributed
to the current crisis, including Russia’s
decision to swiftly annex Crimea after
Euromaidan’s victory. It also makes the
crisis difcult to end.
Euromaidan’s success triggered Pu-
tin’s annexation of Crimea, the rationale
for which was multifaceted. The annex-
ation was purportedly to save Crimea’s
ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking
“compatriots” from the “fascists” who
took power in Kyiv, but it also aimed
to prevent the Russian Black Sea Fleet
from being evicted from its base in
Sevastopol and prevent Ukraine from
joining NATO. Crimea’s majority ethnic
Russian population and the fact that it
was a part of Russia from the time Cath-
erine II took it from the Ottoman Em-
pire until the peninsula was transferred
from the Russian republic to the Ukrai-
nian republic within the USSR in 1954
were offered as additional justications
for Russia’s actions. If Russia’s objec-
tives were to ensure non-discrimination
of Russian-speakers in Crimea and
Ukraine, to prevent Ukrainian member-
ship to NATO and the country’s decisive
tilt westward, and to keep its naval base
in Crimea, it is not evident that annexa-
tion—which turned Russia into an in-
ternational pariah and saddled it with
sanctions as its economy was already
lagging—was the best course of action
for Russia to achieve these goals. Russia
could have chosen to exercise any of the
many levers it had over Ukraine—levers
that did not disappear with the victory
of Euromaidan and that were strong
enough to enable Russia to advance
these objectives.
Russia has enormous economic le-
verage over Ukraine. It is the destination
for about a quarter of Ukrainian exports,
and Ukraine is also heavily dependent on
Russian gas. European markets could not
replace Russian markets, and Ukrainian
exports, especially its industrial output,
will remain more attractive to Russian
markets than to the West for a long time.
Russia could have exploited extensive
trade and economic links to undermine,
on a case-by-case basis, moves by the
new Ukrainian government that Russia
considered undesirable. Ukraine’s new
president, Petro Poroshenko, who took
ofce after the May 2014 elections, is
someone with whom Russia could have
easily found common ground. Porosh-
enko is not a radical anti-Russian revo-
lutionary but a long-term member of the
Ukrainian political establishment and an
economic tycoon with business interests
in Russia. He is an interlocutor not much
different from previous Ukrainian presi-
dents, with whom Russia was always
able to conduct business.
Domestic divisions in Ukraine that
have time and again produced a sub-
stantial Russia-friendly, if not outright
pro-Russian, lobby in the Ukrainian
parliament did not disappear after the
victory of Euromaidan. According to
a February 2014 Gallup poll, 45% na-
tionwide supported the Euromaidan
protests while 51% did not. The same
poll found that 41% favored economic
integration with the EU, and 35% with
the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus
and Kazakhstan. Had Putin not invad-
ed Ukraine, such popular preferences
could have been leveraged to establish a
strong pro-Russian lobby in parliament
through which Russia could have con-
tinued to inuence Ukrainian politics.
Ironically, it was Putin’s actions that
upended these long-standing domes-
tic divisions in Ukraine and made it
much less pro-Russian than before the
annexation. By annexing Crimea and
supporting the insurgency in the Don-
bas region, which have reliably voted
for pro-Russian parties and politicians,
Russia effectively removed several
million pro-Russian voters (approxi-
mately 10% of the electorate) from
election rolls in Ukraine. (Residents of
Crimea and of the insurgent-controlled
Protestors clash with police on Jan. 22, 2014, in central Kiev during Ukraine’s escalating
political crisis. (EFREM LUKATSKY/AP/CORBIS)
immediately
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD 1
13
parts of the Donbas—some 4.6 million
registered voters—are unable to take
part in Ukrainian elections.) Unlike in
previous elections where the margin
of victory between “pro-Russian” and
“pro-Western” parties or presidential
contenders has always been narrow,
2014 marked the rst time the elector-
al eld shifted decisively away from
pro-Russian forces. Poroshenko won
by a wide margin in the rst round in
May 2014 presidential elections; in the
October 2014 legislative elections, pro-
European parties gained a constitution-
al majority for the rst time in Ukrai-
nian history. Only one party that can
be considered pro-Russian made it into
the parliament with 9.4% of the vote.
As a result, the overall size of the pro-
Russian lobby in parliament is unlikely
to exceed a quarter of its composition.
The perceptions of Russian-speaking
voters have also changed. In the southern
and eastern regions of Ukraine—which
Putin has referred to as Novorossia
(“New Russia”)—Russian-speakers are
no longer reliably pro-Russian or even
Russia-friendly. One illustrative ex-
ample is the victory of Dmytro Yarosh,
the leader of the radical nationalist Right
Sector, in a single member district race
in the Russian-speaking Dnipropetrovs‘k
region, which Russia counts as belonging
to Novorossia. In October 2014 legisla-
tive elections, the pro-Western parties in
the southeast won more votes than pro-
Russian parties in most southern and
eastern districts. (In previous elections,
virtually all districts in the southeast vot-
ed for pro-Russian parties.)
Ukraine’s NATO membership and
the eviction of the Russian navy from
Crimea were far from imminent. Indeed,
as far as NATO membership is con-
cerned, Russia’s annexation of Crimea
and incursion in the Donbas may have
made it more, rather than less, likely.
Ukrainian NATO membership did not
have signicant support domestically or
within NATO itself. Even pro-western
Ukrainian politicians had not advocate
NATO membership for Ukraine, but
now the tides are changing. After the
October 2014 legislative elections, ve
pro-Western parties agreed to form a co-
alition and set NATO membership as a
goal. Tymoshenko’s party, for example,
has called for a referendum on NATO
membership and started collecting sig-
natures for it. The Ukrainian public also
began to view membership more favor-
ably, with 50% supporting membership
in the alliance. Rising popular support
for NATO membership in Ukraine is in-
variably a result of Russian aggression.
Likewise, the Russian Black Sea
Fleet previously faced no danger of
losing its bases in Crimea under a post-
Yanukovych government. Yanukovych
signed an agreement in February 2010
with Putin to extend the lease of the
naval bases by the Russian Black Sea
eet in Crimea until 2042. (The earlier
lease term was due to expire in 2017).
The lease extension was negotiated in
secret and rammed through the Ukrai-
nian parliament by pro-Yanukovych
majority despite protest from the op-
position. While it is possible that the
new Ukrainian government would have
wanted to revisit the agreement at some
point, Russia was well positioned to se-
cure favorable terms for any new deal,
provided its control over Ukrainian en-
ergy and the pro-Russian population in
Crimea. No Ukrainian leader spoke of
revoking the lease after Euromaidan.
Further, the strength of radical na-
tionalism and threat to Russian-speak-
ers in the post-Euromaidan Ukraine was
exaggerated by Russian leadership and
state media. Radical nationalists and far
right groups were present at the Euro-
maidan protests, and probably played
a signicant role in the violence from
the protesters side, but the far right and
extreme nationalists do not enjoy much
support in Ukraine, as polling data and
electoral results show. Under Yanu-
kovych, Svoboda was the only far right
nationalist party to gain legislative rep-
resentation in 2012 parliamentary elec-
tion. (It received 10% of the vote.) In
May 2014 presidential elections, lead-
ers of Svoboda and the Right Sector, the
two main nationalist groups, together
received less than 2% of the vote. The
post-Yanukovych government included
a few individuals with connections to
the radical nationalist parties, although
the most prominent appointment—that
of the head of the national defense and
security council, Andriy Parubiy, who
was also the commander of self-defense
units of the Euromaidan—had a connec-
tion that was a decade old. The radical
nationalists have been nowhere close to
dominating political life in post-Yanu-
kovych Ukraine and have little chance
to do so, as both right-wing parties failed
to clear the 5% threshold for representa-
tion in the October 2014 elections.
Finally, claims of assaults on the
rights of ethnic Russians and Russian-
speakers in Ukraine and in Crimea
specifically were exaggerated. Since
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ETHNIC MAJORITIES
IN UKRAINE
by Administrative Division
majority russian
50% to <90%
ukrainian
90% to 100%
ukrainian
In March 2014, the
Russian Federation
annexed Crimea, an
action not recognized
by the international
community.
d
GREAT DECISIONS   2015
14
1
1989 Ukrainian has been the only state
language in Ukraine; in Crimea, which
enjoyed autonomous status within
Ukraine, there were three ofcial lan-
guages: Ukrainian, Russian and Crime-
an Tatar. In the years since indepen-
dence Ukraine’s government moved
to reverse the Russication policies of
the last decades of the Soviet era, par-
ticularly in government and education,
but Russian remained widely used and
dominant in the media, business and
popular culture. The absolute major-
ity of Ukrainians are bilingual and few
were inconvenienced by Ukrainian as
the only state language policy in daily
lives. According to March 2014 Gal-
lup poll, only 12% felt that Russian-
speakers are under pressure because of
their language. Among ethnic Russians
this share stood at 29%; however, 66%
of ethnic Russians (and 85% overall)
did not consider Russian-speakers in
danger of discrimination.
A key piece of evidence Russian lead-
ers evoked when justifying the need to
“defend compatriots” from the “fascist
junta” in Kyiv was Ukrainian parlia-
ment’s recent decision to repeal a 2012
law that gave Russian the status of a re-
gional language in areas where over 10%
of the population were Russian-speakers.
The provocative nature of the vote was
quickly recognized, and the parliament
speaker and acting president at the time
refused to sign it. As a result, the 2012
law remained in force. But even if the
2012 law was repealed—a law which
at the time of its adoption was bitterly
contested domestically and criticized by
the Venice Commission of the Council
of Europe for undermining the position
of Ukrainian—the situation of Russian-
speakers was unlikely to worsen. The
2012 law was more symbolic than con-
sequential in practice; before and after
promulgation of the law, the language
policies and the situation of Russian-
speakers in Ukraine were not distinct in
any discernible way. Ukraine ratied the
European Charter for Regional and Mi-
nority languages in 2005. Russian had
been designated as one a regional lan-
guage by then, and the courts routinely
upheld decisions of local authorities to
use Russian as regional language based
on the charter’s provisions. To advance
language rights of Russian-speakers in
Ukraine, Russia could have worked with
and pressured Ukraine through Euro-
pean institutions to uphold the rights of
Russian-speakers even in the absence of
the 2012 language law.
So why, instead of exercising one
or more of the many levers it had over
Ukraine to inuence the policies of the
new Ukrainian government, did Putin
opt for open conict, upending the post-
World War II security system and mak-
ing Ukraine more anti-Russian than it has
ever been? One compelling explanation
is that Putin acted because the success of
the Euromaidan uprising—and the possi-
ble success of Ukraine as a democracy in
its aftermath—posed a great threat to the
political system Putin has created. Putin
may be pursuing a twin goal: rst, pre-
venting Ukraine from turning West and
leaving the Russian sphere of inuence
by creating simmering conflict within
its borders and a territorial dispute; and
second, destabilizing post-Yanukovych
Ukraine to discredit the people-led model
of political and economic change in the
country that is Russia’s closest neighbor.
Policy options
As the crisis over Ukraine plunges
U.S.-Russia relations to their lowest
point since the end of the Cold War,
the West continue to puzzle over how
to reverse Russia’s aggressive behavior
in Ukraine, deter any similar future ac-
tions by Russia against other states in its
neighborhood, and normalize relations
with the Kremlin so that cooperation
can continue in areas of mutual inter-
ests. Failing to accomplish these goals
could lead to an even greater crisis in
Ukraine and the spread of the crisis to
other states. The possibility of Russia
pushing further into Ukraine cannot be
excluded. The areas Russian-backed in-
surgents control in the Donbas region
are smaller than the territory of Novo-
rossia envisaged by Putin. Since Crimea
is dependent on mainland Ukraine for
most of its supplies of fresh water and
electricity and that the insurgent-con-
trolled areas of the Donbas are home to
Ukraine’s rundown heavy industry and
mines that need subsidies to stay opera-
tional, Russia may at some point look to
carve a land corridor to Crimea. Russia
may even push further along southern
Ukraine into Moldova’s breakaway re-
gion of Transdniestria, which has been
under a pro-Russian unrecognized gov-
ernment since 1992.
If tensions created by the current
crisis in Ukraine are not diffused, the
possibility that Russia will violate the
territorial integrity of other post-Soviet
states under the pretext of protecting
Russian-speakers is not out of the realm
of possibilities, albeit more remote. The
Baltic states—particularly Latvia and
Estonia, which have large Russian mi-
norities and tense relations with Russia
over issues such as citizenship, language
rights, and commemorative politics—
could be future targets. However, be-
cause Latvia and Estonia are members
of NATO, Russia is unlikely to risk open
military action. Russia nevertheless
could destabilize these states by acting
aggressive but short of an outright inva-
sion. Provocative moves, like Russia’s
kidnapping of an Estonian security of-
cer from Estonian territory two days
after President Obama visited the coun-
try, could become more frequent.
Kazakhstan is another state where a
large and territorially concentrated Rus-
sian minority along the Kazakh-Russian
border in the north of the country could
become the locus of destabilization or
conict. Kazakhstan has been a reliable
ally of Russia since the fall of the Soviet
Union, and its president, Nursultan Naz-
arbayev, has been an active proponent of
Russia-led Eurasian integration projects,
such as a common economic space, the
customs union, and the Eurasian eco-
nomic community. But Kazakhstan is
not a democracy, and Nazarbaiev, who
is 74 years old, does not have a desig-
nated successor. Hence, any transition
from Nazarbaiev to the next leader will
be unpredictable, and mass mobilization
and another “colored revolution” cannot
be ruled out. Some have interpreted Pu-
tin’s recent statement that Nazarbaiev has
“done a unique thing” because he “creat-
ed a state in a territory that had never had
a state before” as an ominous warning
that if Kazakhstan were to depart Rus-
sia’s orbit, its borders may be challenged.
since
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD 1
15
So what options do the U.S. govern-
ment and its Western allies have when
dealing with Putin? It will not be easy to
diffuse the current crisis in relations with
Russia, prevent new ones from emerg-
ing and continue cooperation on areas of
mutual interests for several reasons. For
one, the West and Russia have different
views of what lead to the current crisis in
Ukraine. These varied interpretations of
reality are profound; in fact, after several
conversations with Putin over Crimean
crisis in March 2014 German Chancellor
Angela Merkel reportedly told President
Obama that Putin is “in another world.”
Following the October 2014 meeting in
Milan between Putin and European lead-
ers, Putin’s spokesman said that the West
shows “complete unwillingness to under-
stand the real situation in the southeast
of Ukraine.” An inability to agree on the
nature of the problem makes it so much
harder to solve it.
One mechanism the West does have
at its disposal are sanctions. Western
sanctions, which both targeted indi-
viduals and companies in Russia, have
already had a considerable impact on
the Russian economy, resulting in a
weakened ruble, growth in consumer
prices and substantial burden on the
state budget. Targeted energy compa-
nies have asked the government for
funds to offset the losses caused by
sanctions. Rosneft, Russia’s largest
state owned oil company, for example,
asked for more than $49 billion to help
withstand Western sanctions. That sum
amounts to over half the cash stored
in Russia’s National Welfare Fund,
a sovereign wealth fund created as a
backstop to Russia’s pension system.
Still, sanctions are unlikely to
change Russia’s course, especially in
the short term. Russian leaders have
said they have no intention of return-
ing Crimea to Ukraine under pressure
of sanctions. Despite mounting evi-
dence, Russia continues to deny that
its troops are aiding insurgents in the
Donbas. That covert support for the
insurgents is unlikely to be cut, given
that the Ukrainian army came close to
defeating the insurgency in August and
that local support for the insurgency,
while substantial, is not enough. The
West faces a choice between two prob-
lematic options: to continue with sanc-
tions that are unlikely to yield results
in the short term (and possibly long
term as well—Putin is widely popu-
lar in Russia and his term in ofce can
go until 2024), or to relax or annul the
sanctions, effectively signing off on
Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its vio-
lation of the international law, and its
sponsorship of insurgency in eastern
Ukraine.
Since NATO countries ruled out
military action against Russia over
Ukraine, the West has few options. Two
sets of additional specic actions may
prove effective—even if not immedi-
ately—in inuencing Russia’s behavior
and the course of events in its neighbor-
hood going forward. These would be
helping democracy succeed in Ukraine,
and recognizing and responding to le-
gitimate Russian concerns.
Helping democracy succeed in post-
Yanukovych Ukraine would offer long-
term benets, not only to Ukrainians
but also to Russia and other countries
in the post-Soviet space. It would show
that regime change driven by popular
mobilization could serve public inter-
ests and welfare as well or better than
the model of managed democracy,
which limits pluralism and public par-
ticipation. The success of democracy
in Ukraine should not be confused with
success of pro-Western foreign policy
or political dominance of pro-Western
elites, however. The West should scruti-
nize its pro-Western allies and call them
on violations of democratic standards,
just as it has been doing with regard to
the pro-Russian actors. This will both
aid democratic prospects in Ukraine,
and may earn some good will with Rus-
sia, which has maintained that the U.S.
has supported pro-Western forces in
Ukraine without question.
More specically, such a policy would
involve recognizing the danger the far
right can pose for democracy in Ukraine,
even if it is not strong electorally. Rights
groups have documented worrisome prac-
tices already, such as extrajudicial deten-
tion and ill treatment of suspected separat-
ism supporters by the volunteer militias
with links to the far right. Questionable
lustration policies, physical assaults on
political gures from the old regime, and
legislation that limits basic constitutional
rights in areas where a state of emergency
or anti-terrorist operation is in force (in-
cluding the right not to be detained with-
out a trial) are clearly undemocratic and
should be recognized as such, even if they
are initiated by Ukrainian political forces
friendly to the West.
Finally, addressing Russia’s legiti-
mate concerns when it comes to devel-
oping closer partnerships between states
in Russia’s near abroad and the West
could serve to improve U.S.-Russian
relations. Here, the West needs to walk
a fine line between recognizing Rus-
sia’s concerns about what happens in its
neighborhood and working in good faith
to address them without letting Russia
veto integration of its neighbors in West-
ern institutions if they so choose. The
one year delay in the implementation
of free trade part of the EU association
agreement with Ukraine to allow time
for consultations on the impact of this
agreement on Russian economy and its
trade with Ukraine is one example of a
compromise solution. This considers the
consequences such an agreement could
have on Russia’s economy. Distinguish-
ing between “wants” and “needs” on a
case-by-case basis, while not easy, is
necessary on the part of both the West
and Russia to prevent the crisis from
deepening and spreading. n
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches
military exercises with Defense Minister
Sergei Shoigu. (GETTY IMAGES)
court order
16
RUSSIA AND THE NEAR ABROAD
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC AND TO ACCESS WEB LINKS TO
RESOURCES GO TO www.greatdecisions.org
discussion questions
suggested readings
1. The brief period that followed the fall of the Soviet Union was
characterized by Russia’s attempts to adopt pro-Western principles.
Explain why Russia initially sought foreign policies with the West.
How did Russia try integrating itself into the Western world? Iden-
tify the goals it hoped to achieve by doing so. In addition, name
some of the challenges that it faced.
2. The rise of Vladimir Putin to power resulted in Russia’s pursuit
of assertive foreign policies, and relations between Russia and the
West have become strained. What are some of the causes of this rift
and crisis in Ukraine? How does Putin’s leadership style differ from
that of Yeltsin’s? How has his leadership style changed throughout
his time in politics?
3. How big of a role does ideology play in Putin’s treatment of
Ukraine? Are Putin’s actions motivated by ideology or purely out
of political and economic interests?
4. . The crisis in Ukraine can be traced back to the 2004 orange
Freire, Maria Raquel and Roger E. Kanet. Russia and Its Near
Neighbors. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Mac-
millan, 2012. 320 pp. The book analyzes Russia’s return to power
in the international arena and its future foreign policies toward
former Soviet nations.
Gvozdev, Nikolas and Christopher March. Russian Foreign Poli-
cy: Interests,Vectors, and Sectors. Los Angeles: CQ Press, 2014.
436 pp. An up to date volume that provides a comprehensive over-
view of actors shaping Russia’s foreign policy, and an account of
these policies in different regions of the world.
Legvold, Robert. “Russian Foreign Policy During Periods of Great
State Transformation,” in Robert Legvold, ed. Russian Foreign
Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. pp.77-143. This chap-
ter offers a broad historical sweep of the periods of great transfor-
mation in Russian history and Russia’s foreign policy during these
turbulent times.
Mearsheimer, John. “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.”
Foreign Affairs. September/October 2014. McFaul, Michael and
Stephen Sestanovich, “Faulty Powers: Who Started the Ukraine
Crisis.” Foreign Affairs. November/December 2014. (online).
These articles offer alternative explanations of Russia’s actions
vis-à-vis Ukraine.
revolution. This prevented Viktor Yanukovych from becoming the
third Ukrainian president, due to awed presidential elections. How
did Russia respond to the orange revolution? Why did Viktor Yanu-
kovych decide not to sign the association and free trade agreement
with the European Union, and what role did Russia play in this par-
ticular event? In light of the Ukrainian demonstrations and protests
that ensued, how have Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Western
relations been affected by Euromaidan?
5. How did Russia’s removal of several million pro-Russian voters
(through its annexation of Crimea) from Ukrainian election polls
affect Ukraine’s 2014 presidential and legislative elections? How
will the changes in Ukraine’s Russian-speaker demographics affect
its foreign policy?
6. In response to the crisis, Western sanctions have been imposed
on Russian individuals and companies. How effective is this method
in the long- and short-run? In addition, NATO countries have since
ruled out using military action against Russia over Ukraine. In
your opinion, what other options does the West have in dealing
with the crisis?
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet
Empire. New York: Random House, 1993. 626pp. Remnick, who
at the time covered the events for the Washington Post, details the
last days of the USSR through a series of short rst-hand accounts.
Remnick, David. Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia.
New York: Vintage Books, 1998. 432pp. Remnick follows up on
Lenin’s Tomb in this account of rebuilding the Russian state in the
aftermath of the USSR.
Service, Robert. A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II
to Vladimir Putin (Revised Edition). Cambridge: Harvard Uni-
versity Press, 2005. 659pp. A detailed account of modern Russian
history from around 1900-2000.
Stent, Angela. The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations
in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
2014. 384pp. This volume by Clinton’s and Bush’s advisor on Russia
offers an account of U.S.-Russian relations since 1990, and overview
of the obstacles that have prevented a closer relationship.
Tolz, Vera. Russia: Inventing the Nation. Arnold/Hodder Head-
line Group, 2001. 320pp. A comprehensive analysis of different
Russian national identity conceptions, their historical evolution,
and ways in which they inuence Russian policy making towards
its neighbors.
... , Zimmer(2007),Zhurzhenko (2010) describe the peculiarities of social and ethno-cultural environment of Ukrainian eastern border regions and their "transit" Ukrainian-Russian character.Mykhnenko (2020) shows the Ukrainian Donbas to be a typical shrinking old industrial region. Reasons for the conflict in Eastern Ukraine are highlighted byShevel (2015),Zhurzhenko (2015),Kuzio (2017),Horbulin (2017),Lennon and Adams (2019), D'Anieri andKuzio (2019). ...
Chapter
This chapter justifies the topicality and relevance of spatial conflicts and divisions in cities from the viewpoint of human geography and other branches of science dealing with spatial facets of urban development such as sociology, political science, and economics. Based on the analysis of publications regarding post-socialist cities, the author outlines the main themes in this well-developed interdisciplinary discourse. The author also stresses that despite its high research potential, we lack a separate domain that generates knowledge about conflicts in cities of East-Central Europe. Particular attention is paid to the global discourse of knowledge on contested and divided cities and the variety of currents and problems raised by scholars. The merits of the current book and its contribution to the process of maturing from conflicts and divisions in post-socialist cities as a prospective direction of future research are highlighted. Issues with high research potential include geopolitically- and ethnonationally-motivated conflicts and divisions, as well as topics related to current disputes about the heritage of multicultural cities, conflicts caused by competing interests in spatial planning under conditions of post-socialist transformation, globalisation, and European integration. Conflicts and divisions caused by post-socialist transformation and its long-lasting socio-spatial consequences make the missing link between post-socialist urban change and global discourses on contested and divided cities.
... , Zimmer(2007),Zhurzhenko (2010) describe the peculiarities of social and ethno-cultural environment of Ukrainian eastern border regions and their "transit" Ukrainian-Russian character.Mykhnenko (2020) shows the Ukrainian Donbas to be a typical shrinking old industrial region. Reasons for the conflict in Eastern Ukraine are highlighted byShevel (2015),Zhurzhenko (2015),Kuzio (2017),Horbulin (2017),Lennon and Adams (2019), D'Anieri andKuzio (2019). ...
Preprint
This book presents cross-national insights into spatial fragmentation in post-socialist cities in Europe. Trying to rethink the heritage of the last 30 years of transformation and grasp current processes taking urban units of various categories as examples, the book exemplifies typical or unique causes of political, social and ethnic disintegration of cities in Central and Eastern Europe. Presenting spatial studies into different cases of conflict in a cross-national context, the authors apply concepts of contested and divided cities, urban geopolitics, cultural atavism, contested heritage, etc. The book is divided into four parts. The first part raises the issue of genesis, development and contemporary discrepancies of cities divided by political and state borders. The second part includes chapters which deal with the impact of ongoing geopolitical divisions, wars, and ideologies on the social and political tensions as well as their polarising effect on urban territory. The third part comprises reflections on controversial relations of ethnic and national culture with urban space. The fourth part deals with socio-economic transformation of post-socialist cities which went through transition of old patterns of spatial planning and attempts to establish more rational and justice spatial order.
Chapter
Since 2014, the Donbas region has become the front line of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists. This chapter shows how alienating once unified urban communities occur during an armed conflict in Donbas. The line of armed confrontation divided the few Donbas cities and towns. One of them is Zolote, a typical mining town. The military actions resulted in significant destruction of the urban environment and habitual way of life of th population. Part of the town is in the so-called “grey zone”, which was established in 2015. Over the following years, the grey area decreased and the likelihood of fire contact between the parties to the conflict increased. Another element that is the focus of this chapter is the town of Milove, which is located in the agrarian part of Donbas on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Mivole and Chertkovo (a town located on the Russian side) is an example of twin-towns. In Soviet times, the administrative frontier ran along the main street of Friendship of Peoples. After the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian border conflict, a fortified border appeared in the middle of this street. The population of Milove and Chertkovo felt isolated in terms of socio-economic ties.
Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire New York: Random House, 1993. 626pp. Remnick, who at the time covered the events for the Washington Post, details the last days of the USSR through a series of short first
  • Remnick
  • David
Remnick, David. Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House, 1993. 626pp. Remnick, who at the time covered the events for the Washington Post, details the last days of the USSR through a series of short first-hand accounts.
The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. 384pp. This volume by Clinton's and Bush's advisor on Russia offers an account of U.S.-Russian relations since
  • Stent
  • Angela
Stent, Angela. The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. 384pp. This volume by Clinton's and Bush's advisor on Russia offers an account of U.S.-Russian relations since 1990, and overview of the obstacles that have prevented a closer relationship.
Inventing the Nation. Arnold/Hodder Head-line Group, 2001. 320pp. A comprehensive analysis of different Russian national identity conceptions, their historical evolution, and ways in which they influence Russian policy making towards its neighbors
  • Vera Tolz
  • Russia
Tolz, Vera. Russia: Inventing the Nation. Arnold/Hodder Head-line Group, 2001. 320pp. A comprehensive analysis of different Russian national identity conceptions, their historical evolution, and ways in which they influence Russian policy making towards its neighbors.
New York: Vintage Books, 1998. 432pp. Remnick follows up on Lenin's Tomb in this account of rebuilding the
  • David Remnick
Remnick, David. Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia. New York: Vintage Books, 1998. 432pp. Remnick follows up on Lenin's Tomb in this account of rebuilding the Russian state in the aftermath of the USSR.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. 659pp. A detailed account of modern Russian history from around
  • Robert Service
Service, Robert. A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II to Vladimir Putin (Revised Edition). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. 659pp. A detailed account of modern Russian history from around 1900-2000.
This volume by Clinton's and Bush's advisor on Russia offers an account of U.S.-Russian relations since
  • Angela Stent
Stent, Angela. The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. 384pp. This volume by Clinton's and Bush's advisor on Russia offers an account of U.S.-Russian relations since 1990, and overview of the obstacles that have prevented a closer relationship.