Ukraine has been in the longest and deadliest crisis since its post-Soviet independence. The crisis began as a remonstration against the government shelving plans to create closer trade relations with Europen countries. It has catalyzed rising tensions between the Western Nations and Russia. The crisis is a result of over twenty years of fragile governance, an asymmetrical economy controlled by oligarchs, profound dependence on Russia, and sharp differences between Ukraine’s eastern and western regions that are religiously, ethnically, ideologically and linguistically distinct. After the expulsion, Viktor Yanukovich, the then Ukrainian president, in February 2014, Russia has made radical steps by annexing regions of Ukraine and explicitly supporting separatist pro-Russian forces. The west, mainly represented by the United States, has been pulling on the other side against Russia by supporting the Ukrainian government that heavily leans towards Nationalist Western Ukraine. These actions by the two adversaries cast a lot of doubt on whether the outcome of the conflict will benefits the Ukrainians or external forces. This paper examines the different perspectives to the crisis by assessing the applicable theories of understanding the conflict. These theories include Realism, liberalist or Internationalism, and Nationalism theories. The paper explores the aspect of Imperialism by parties involved in prolonging the conflict and how it is connected to the conflict. The American government’s position and take on the Ukraine perspective is an important aspect, which can determine how soon the conflict concludes. This aspect is explored too. The main factors that contribute to the current state of the conflict including natural resources like Energy, Oil, Natural Gas transport routes and Politics are explored. The paper culminates in the writer’s conclusion on the genesis and general direction of the conflict considering the variables involved.
For a while now, Ukraine has suffered intense crisis due to the tussle between various interests in the nation’s various political and ethnic groups. The country has been in a civil strife that pits ethnic Ukrainians against the majority Russian Speaking population in eastern regions bordering Russia. The conflict however is not entirely based on ethnicity but also geopolitics. This paper looks at the stalemate in Ukraine by examining Nationalistic, Realistic and Liberalistic System theories to try to establish the nature of the crisis. The paper tries to ascertain whether, the Ukraine conflict is a result of genuine desire for change by Ukrainians and what factors are fueling the crisis.
Brief History of the Ukraine Crisis
Ukraine, a country that is a home to 45 million people is located in Eastern Europe has been embroiled in a crisis in that has been ongoing since 21st November 2013. This conflict started when the then president adjourned all plans for the implementation of a relationship agreement with European countries. The pronouncement hatched the genesis of mass protests by supporters of the agreement. Several months into the protests, the protesters ousted President Victor Yanukovych on 22 February 2014. He fled from Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine to Russia. Following his ousting, unrest started in the largely Russian speaking area of Ukraine. This is where most of Victor’s political support came from. A subsequent political crisis in the autonomous region of Ukraine, Crimea, resulted in the takeover of the region by Russia. Afterwards, unrest in eastern Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk bordering Russia morphed into a confrontation between the Ukrainian administration and Russian militia. This conflict continues to this day as world leaders work hard to find a lasting solution (Mearsheimer, 2014).
According to the predominant knowledge in the Western Nations, the conflict happening in Ukraine is blamed almost completely on Russian provocation. Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, took Crimea by force out of a wish he had held for a long time to revive the lost glory of the Soviet empire, the argument goes. He may in the end go after more territories of Ukraine, and maybe further to other nations in Eastern Europe. In this argument, the removal of Ukrainian president of the time, Mr. Viktor Yanukovych in the month of February 2014 provided an excuse for Putin’s resolution to command Russian forces into taking part of Ukraine. This, as the narrative predominant in the western media goes, is the reason why Vladimir Putin made the move into Ukraine to satisfy his fantasy of reclaiming the lost glory of the former Soviet Union (Mishemer, 2014).
Inspecting the genesis of the Ukraine crisis narrative
However, this narrative is not entirely correct as the Americans and their European auxiliaries share a very big part of the blame for the conflict. The root of the problem is the NATO expansion, which is the focal aspect of a larger plan to take the nation of Ukraine from Russia’s circuit of influence and add it into the Western sphere of influence. The European Union’s enlargement eastward and the Westwards, the movement supporting democracy in Ukraine, which started protests during the Orange Revolution that took place in 2004, were important elements that led to the current stalemate too. From the mid of the 1990s, Russians have obstinately been against NATO spread out, lately, they have clarified that they wouldn’t sit by and watch while their strategically significant neighbor morphed into a Western bastion of Influence. For Putin, the unlawful overthrow a democratically elected president who was pro-Russian, which he correctly termed as a coup was the last straw. He reacted by taking Crimea, which he dreaded would keep a NATO naval base, after which he embarked on working to make Ukraine unstable until it dumped their bid to join up with the West (Mearsheimer, 2014).
Putin’s action to repulse western infringement into a Russia’s buffer region of influence should not surprise anyone. In spite of everything, the West had been getting into Russia’s area of influence aggressively and threatening its major important interests, a point Putin put out explicitly, emphatically and repeatedly. American and European Elites have not been able to understand the situation on the ground because have an erroneous view of global politics. They believe that a sense of realism holds little significance in the modern state of affairs. They believe that Europe united on the foundation of such liberal values abidance to the law, economy integration, and democracy (Mearsheimer, 2014).
System Level theories
Realists. The Realist perspective of the Ukrainian Crisis bases its argument by dissecting Russia’s behavior and terming it as a creation of the insecurity prevalent to the global system. Realism views world politics as fundamentally chaotic, and the lack of a trusted guardian encourages other states to nurture and grow their muscle as the only dependable means of shielding their continued existence and sovereignty. This insecurity is so gripping that it tempts states into expansionist actions intended to preempt potential threats, either directly by winning control over the menacing competitor or indirectly by increasing their own power and influence, as Eckstein (2006, p. 21) states. Realists prefer aggression as a means of solving such kinds of aggression. Despite the fact that the west has not expeditiously taken up this route, it has been heard over international media of plans to arm Ukrainian Loyalists and pro-west interests for use against the pro-Russian rebels (Spencer, 2014).
The supervening Theories
Liberalism / Internationalism. Liberalism is the main theory currently that guides world reaction to the Ukraine crisis. Security issues are to be handled cooperatively by the world community. Collaboration, concession and negotiation are preferred as the best methods to deal with the Ukraine crisis. This can be witnessed in the current inclination for strategies such as economic sanctions besides other measures against Russia as an alternative to military reaction. Liberalism is an anti-war perspective even though it cannot be entirely assumed so. It is uncommon to find Liberals embracing antagonistic solutions to crises. As a last resort, aggression remains an alternative for liberals, especially if human rights are endangered (Spencer, 2014).
Nationalism. This is the propensity of ethnic, cultural and / or tribal groups to coalesce around a sense of belonging and to go after political goals in the name of that identity. Nationalism, in part, catalyzed protests in Ukraine. Yanukovych’s embrace of Russia instead of the European Union inflamed nationalist sentiments in Ukrainian. Many Ukrainians feared that a renewed association with the Russians would jeopardize Ukrainian identity and sovereignty.
There are also a large number of ethnic Russians who reside in Crimea, Ukraine. Putin claims to be defending the interests of this ethnic group against unfriendly Ukrainian extremists. There are Russians who want to see their country powerful again, and advancing control over Crimea and more territories could be viewed as a walk in the direction of reestablishing Russian authority in the world (Spencer, 2014).
American Government’s Position on the Ukraine Crisis
The United States government position on the Ukraine crisis has remained Liberalist despite having showed signs of taking realist approach. The policies implemented by the Americans in response to Russians have been mainly liberal in nature. On the Whitehouse official website, there is a statement on the US’s action in response to the variables influencing the crisis. The US government views Russia’s actions as illegal intrusion into Ukraine and provocative since it undermines Ukraine’s democratic system and threatens its security, peace, stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Americans and the European Union jointly resolved several of paces to steadily eliminate the state of affairs in eastern Ukraine. This is in an attempt to make Russia abstain from further violence or offensive acts. The US blames the violence in Ukraine almost entirely on Russia as bestowed to statement from the press (Office of the Press Secretary, 2014).
The USA has responded to the Russia by imposing sanctions. They include targeted consents on various Russian officials, businesspersons and entities. The USA has restricted licenses for some American exports to Russia. The US Department of the Treasury for instance has imposed sanctions to government officials, two of whom are people from the inner sphere of president. They are focused on an asset freeze ban on their U.S. visa. 17 companies associated with Putin’s inner sphere, have also been targeted for sanction to surrender their asset in US. The Department of Commerce in addition has imposed various restrictions to companies. They are accompanied by imposing a license prerequisite with a presumption of refutation for the foreign transfer of American originating merchandise to the companies as well as exports and re-exports. The Departments of Commerce and the State also announced tight policy to decline license applications on exports for high-technology goods that could help improve Russia’s military capabilities. Existing export licenses that met the conditions that licenses are being denied for were also revoked as documented in an announcement by the Press (Office of the Press Secretary, 2014).
The USA Government on the white house website is engrossed in the simplistic view that the world views the Ukrainian crisis from the same perspective as it does by stating that the world communal has integrated its position to Russians to have cease its intervention and provocation in Ukraine. The world community in this case is America’s European allies with which the USA met and made these decisions in Geneva. The USA has been expeditiously imposing sanctions on any influential part or individuals in the Russian economy as stated by the press (Office of the Press Secretary, 2014).
NATO progressively advances towards Russia’s backyard on every opportunity. Before the crisis, the West had been pulling Ukraine towards its sphere of influence by enticing it to join the European Union. Part of accepting the deal was that Ukraine would join NATO. When it was the time for Yanukovych to decide and sign, Russia came in with a $15 billion loan. They also came with a huge reduction in the cost of gas supplied by Russia (55 % of the gas used in Ukraine) and good trade treaties, dropping or eliminating tariffs. The West was enraged when Yanukovych suspended the process of making a deal with them even after the parliament approved (Goldstein, 2014)
Incidentally, protests began that resulted in the removal of the Ukrainian democratically elected president, Victor Yanukovych. This was after the West manipulated circumstances in Ukraine to the disadvantage of Yanukovych to ensure that he was out of their way. A leader with heavy western leanings was hurriedly installed. This was evidently in an attempt to advance the American imperialist agenda, since the European Union and NATO are all American allies. Russia would not sit by and let the Imperialist United States alongside its European Union allies to grab this strategic neighbor and turn it against Russia and, maybe, against part of the Ukrainian masses, since a big chunk of Ukraine’s population are Ethnic Russians (Kampagiannis, 2014). The effect of US influence and imperialism can be seen around the world, from Libya, Syria, Iraq and Latin America to many other oppressed countries. Wherever the USA exports its values, not the best of circumstances are ever achieved. The Russians’ mentality and perspective is directly modeled on this view, the view of the Americans as the ultimate imperialists. Imperialists who take impose their influence on weak oppressed countries. To a degree, there seems to be some truth in that view. However, according to Russians and Russia’s Allies, Russia is not a small and subjugated country. It has on its own domination in some places. Russia has an impressive industrial establishment, rich banks, strong forces and nuclear weapons (Goldstein, 2014)
This is where the difference between Russia and Syria or Libya comes. This is what needs a more considerate clarification of our take so s to help people get the right side in this struggle. We must know why the Americans want to weaken the Russians geopolitically, militarily and economically. Russia is ready to protect its sphere of influence from the aggressive imperialists knocking on its doors. The Ukrainian fascists are known to have been knocking down and desecrating Soviet Era statues in anger against Russia. This is hard evidence of the Imperialists presence in the Russia’s backyard and Russia is ready to stamp its presence in the Eastern Europe. The Russians front their support for the aggression against the puppet Ukrainian government and its Western Allies by this rationale. On the other hand, Russia is also seen as an Aggressive imperialist out to spread its influence in Eastern Europe by taking direct or indirect control of sovereign states around it. This is all in a bid to spread its sphere of influence, commerce and geo-political (Goldstein, 2014)
Energy, Politics, Oil and Natural Gas
In an article on the guardian online, Afeez Mohamed sheds some light on how little devotion has been showed to the responsibility of United States to meddling Ukrainian political affairs. Powers must be motivated to the yearning to make sure that a geostrategic ally central nation with reverence to be responsible for the vital energy and residues to their own domain of influence. A reported leak of the recordings of a purported mobile talk between US official of state and US ambassador and this part of the evidence of the interest of the USA’s interest in the political landscape of Ukraine. While the focal point has been on impolite speech by Nuland, which has already elicited US apologies, the significant framework on this dialectal concerns the US aim of coordinating with Ukrainian antagonist parties. It looks as if it will manipulate the course of government of Ukraine in accord with what the Americans want (Yekelchyk, 2014).
Rather than leaving Ukrainian politics “to the Ukrainians” as claimed in by the US government, the discussion suggests active US government meddling to favor certain leaders:
The USA even exhibits signs that it has little respect for the European Union going by how Noland articulated herself on the phone call. The USA is more interested in its own goals rather than regional integration. Ukraine is more and more perceived to be significantly situated in the rising battle to control energy route that connects the tanks in two markets. Considerable rivalry has emerged over the building of pipelines. The West would prefer that Ukraine involve itself in Russian subordinate so it does not have to involve a third party, Russia, when in need of access to the Fuel and gas transport corridor. Ukraine’s site between energy producers and users in the other regions such as Eurasian region, its huge transportation linkage, and its existing underground gas storage capacities”, make it an important player in European energy transport, a position that will “grow as demand for Russian gas and oil retain its high demand and keeps on increasing.
Ukraine’s huge reliance on Russian energy imports, though, has had “negative effects for the American strategy in the region, “supporting numerous pipeline routes as a way of assisting encourage a more pluralistic structure at other regions showed an option to sustained Russian monopoly.
While Russia already dominates gas distribution in the region US firms have been trying to get a chunk of the market by swaying Ukraine away from dependence on Russian oil. This is evident in the recent signing of an agreement between the Ukrainian government and US oil distribution firms like Chevron. The adoption agreed with Ukraine’s efforts to “strengthen handier relations with the other countries at Russia’s outflow”. This may be done on a soon-to-be trade deal that will bring the Ukraine’s desires to reach EU combination. However, the president decision to desolate the EU pact in favor of an offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and an amount of money as an aid package triggered protests. While Russia’s imperial antagonism is clearly a major factor, the US attempt to push back Russia’s domain of impact to Ukraine in different ways in favor of its political goals as well as the strategic goals elevates questions to many citizens. As the transport routes determines, US oil and gas dealers are progressively impinging on Russia’s regional domination, dejecting Russia’s fuel hegemony over the European Continent. Ukraine is caught in the midst of the accelerating fight to control energy corridors in Eurasia the previous decades of the era of fossil fuels (Yekelchyk, 2014).
With all the variables theories on the crisis in mind, it is evident that the chains of events in Ukraine are mostly influenced by other countries than by the Ukrainians. The conflict taking place benefits foreigners more than it would benefit Ukraine. Russian military equipments have been sighted in Eastern Ukraine under use by the rebels. The downing of the Air Malaysia plane en-route to the Netherlands is thought to have been facilitated by Russian made missiles mishandled by the Pro-Russian Rebels. There was also blame on the Ukrainian government having shot down the plane deliberately. While it is evident that the Russians are meddling, The Americans too are interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs by pursuing their interests irrespective of their implications on the Ukrainian populace. The fact that Ukrainians are still fighting each other yet the Americans and the Russians are not conceding any significant amount of influence only means, the interests of the Ordinary Ukrainians are not anywhere near the top of the list. In this view, the realist theory can best explain the stalemate in Ukraine. Aggression has been the key to the involved nations achieving their goals. Moreover, it is evident that the interests of other nations fuel the crisis much more than those of the Ukrainians. While working towards attaining a lasting solution, the interests of all external forces have to be considered. This is a very important factor to be considered. The geopolitical implication of the solution has to be considered.
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