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‘Ukraine Crisis’ and Russian Foreign Policy Alternatives

 

Abstract

The political and social dynamics in Ukraine since late 2013 have brought about a significant challenge both for Russia and for the “collective West”. It led to the growing need to reexamine the structure of their rela- tions at two levels: between Russia and Ukraine as well as within a broader community of nations, which includes also the U.S., West European countries and China. The aim of the article is to assess the room for strategic deliberations in Moscow. It starts with the analysis of the recent crisis within Ukraine and identifies the growing role of outside powers after the change of leadership in Kiev. It specifically focuses on American support to the new Ukrainian authorities and the attempts of major European states to negotiate a détente between Moscow and Kiev. At the same time it studies the core, underlying cultural and identity roots of instability in Ukraine. The same factors, primarily related to the linguistic divisions affected the situation in Crimea, however, in this case they had an even stronger effect. The author, therefore, presents the his- torical developments, which created the Crimean problem in Russian-Ukrainian relations, and the depth of the current geographic and logistical issues for Moscow, related to its reintegration. The article also examines broader patterns of economic and political relations between Russia and its European partners, which help to explain the different dynamic in policies of various Western powers. While Germany, France and some other EU members have extensive relations with Moscow and are dependent on its energy sup- plies, they demonstrated greater restraint in comparison with the U.S. However, Washington’s uncompro- mising stance demanded Russian leadership to search for alternatives in its strategic orientations. The realignment with China represented an obvious although not unproblematic choice. Today, it is of crucial importance for Russia to broaden its political and economic base in the Pacific. In this regard it stays behind China, where it positions itself as the guardian of free-trade principles, while the U.S. is seeking to con- struct preferential economic relations with like-minded nations in Asia.

Keywords:

Ukrainian crisis; Minsk agreements; Normand format; Euro-Atlantic community; reintegration of Crimea; war in Donbass; Russian pivot to Asia.


Authors: Alexey Bogaturov

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