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Shkrobak 1

Stepan Shkrobak

Professor Lori Bedell

CAS 137H, Section 004

5 November 2015

Crisis from Country to World

The Start of a New War

Looking to defend its independence and history, Ukraine’s future is challenged by Russia

and Russian separatists. With over 603,000 square kilometers, Ukraine separates Russia from the

rest of Europe preventing the return of what was known as the Soviet Union. Backed by US and

European interests, Ukraine can continue to hold off and prevent a complete Russian invasion of

the east. Attempts at solving the conflict through diplomatic settlements, cease-fires, and troop

withdrawals have been proven to be unsuccessful. The continuation of this crisis will deteriorate

Ukraine as well as relations between Russia, the US and NATO. The possibility of a world war

rose as the crisis between Ukraine and Russia began to develop. As a result, Ukraine’s

neighboring countries have become alert. As a response, NATO presence has been increased in

these countries to reduce the chances of Russia’s future invasion as an invasion on a NATO ally

would lead involvement from NATO and its allies. While Europe and the United States have not

provided military support, they have aided Ukraine with weaponry, vehicles, and money.

Ukraine remains a battleground and its future threatened by the crisis. Due to geopolitical shifts

resulting from Russia’s threats, Ukraine’s strategic value has become a concern for the west and

Ukraine itself.
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Going Back in Time

For over 300 years, parts of current Ukraine have been ruled by Russia, Imperial Russia,

the Soviet Union, and other empires and nations resulting in Ukraine’s population being

regionally, culturally, and politically. For years, Ukraine has been fighting for an identity and

independence from countries like Russia as it continues in attempting to wipe out Ukraine and its

history to support its interests. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine was seen as not a surprise

and that the seed for the crisis has been planted years back. For over 1000 years ago, Ukraine has

been under attack by present-day Russia. Its historic capital, Kyiv, has been razed and plundered

several times, including its key monuments and churches all as an attempt at wiping the

possibility of Ukraine’s existence as a country which Russia continues to go at for years. (Menon

et al.)

The continued attempt at erasing the Ukrainian identity and an attempt of assimilating

Ukrainians into Russians continued. The Russian Empire for years has imposed laws on

Ukrainians preventing them to assemble privately, speak Ukrainian, write any Ukrainian

literature, or even sing Ukrainian music. Ukrainian authors, if found continuing to write

Ukrainian literature, were sent to die in Siberian prisons. It became even a more extreme attempt

of wiping out the Ukrainians under Stalin’s regime and the Soviet Union. After taking over

Ukraine, Stalin imposed a form of collectivization on Ukrainians to achieve his goal. This today

is known as Holodomor, an artificial famine, and by some, a genocide. Between the years of

1932 and 1933, Ukrainians were being forced to surrender their crops leaving them with no food

and to die of starvation. Policies like the one strand of wheat policy were created where if one

was caught with a strand of wheat, they would be executed on the spot or sent to a Siberian

prison. These policies were used to scare and prevent Ukrainians from attempting at hiding food.
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Within the two years of this artificial famine, Ukraine’s population drops by millions as lives are

lost. As Ukrainians died out or were sent to Siberia, Russians were moved in to resettle the land.

This results in the large Russian population and influence in parts of Ukraine (Menon et al.).

Russian Interests

Russian historical interests in Ukraine continue to this day with Putin’s attempt at wiping

the Ukrainian society, history, and identity. “At a 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Russian

President Vladimir Putin said to President George W. Bush, ‘You don’t understand, George, that

Ukraine is not even a country’” (Menon et al. 1). Putin has also already taken actions within

Russia to reconstruct what was once the Soviet Union, from bringing back the Soviet anthem and

emblems and now looking to taking Ukraine (Vladimir). Like to the Soviet Union, Ukraine is

most important to Russia for historical and geopolitical reasons. The constant attempt of Russia

striping of Ukraine of its identity has been around for centuries and seen as a threat to Ukraine.

Some few specifics proofs at attempts are constant invasions of Kyiv and destruction of the city

and its historical content, Stalin’s artificial famine and the resettlement of Russians into

Ukrainian territories, and now today an invasion of Ukraine. With constant threats from Russia,

Ukraine joining NATO and the European Union would provide it security from possible

invasion. Losing Ukraine to the west would mean a failure for Putin as Russia would be

pressured by the west and itself be cornered in the east. Ukraine’s last-minute decisions in not

joining the European Union allowed Putin the chance of “taking” Ukraine. Without an alliance

with the European Union or NATO and with reconstruction of the military and government

taking place, Putin saw the weakness and began to poke into eastern Ukraine (Menon et al.).

Being considered the “center” of Europe, Ukraine is viewed as a key nation to Russia and

its access to the rest of Europe as well as resources. Acting as a geographical barrier between
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Russia and the rest of Europe, it stands between Russia and its interests and goals. Having

control of Ukraine and its borders provides Russia access to six countries to peruse its goals of

reconstructing the Soviet Union. Ukraine’s land is also rich in natural resources and rich soil

famed as “black earth.” Raw materials, industries, mines, and the soil are what Ukraine is

heavily dependent on and controlling such resources will benefit Russia. As said, there could be

no Soviet Union without Ukraine. In addition, Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on its gas

distribution to Europe. Russia depends on Ukraine for the pipelines that allow Russia to

distribute to Europe. Though, Ukraine and many other European countries are also dependent on

Russia for gas, and as a result are forced into making deals with Russia in Russia’s favor (Menon

et al.). In addition, the Black Sea allows for military naval access as well as new trading routes.

Naval access in the Black Sea would allow Putin to be closer to Europe than ever. In addition, it

has been said that Sevastopol, a city in Crimea containing one of Russia’s naval bases has served

as the main source in supplying the Assad regime during Syria’s civil war. Though, after the civil

war, Russia was forced to stop using naval bases in Syria leading to Sevastopol becoming even

more crucial naval base for Russia (Guardian).

Western Interests

The United States is known to be the “police” of the world with troops in nearly 150

countries. Many say that the United States should not get involved in conflicts between nations

and many times involvement is based on interests. The thought is inevitable for the United States

to not say they do not seek to get involved in conflicts between nations as the United States as a

“superpower” is dependent on by many nations and at times such a superpower is what maintains

“world peace.”
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With the creation of the European Union, European countries sought to create a sense of

security, encourage economic growth, and build a democracy. Ukraine’s entrance into the

European Union would have been a benefit for Ukrainians opening many opportunities. As a

member of the European Union and/or NATO, Ukraine would have pressure and “corner” Russia

from possible advancements on Europe. This was primarily a benefit for former Soviet-ruled

nations that were looking to maximize their distance and protection against the possibility of

Russia’s attempt to reconstruct the Soviet Union. Though the European Union lacks the urge to

counter Putin as it’s largest and most influential members like France, Italy, and Germany have

large ties with Russia. Unlike the United States, numerous European countries trade with Russia

and involvement would expose it to “negative economic consequences.” (Menon et al. 121)

Though, it would have higher effects on Russia than any European country as half of Russia’s

trade is with European countries.

Though when it comes to relations between Russia and Europe, energy such as natural

gas is most important. Unlike the United States which acquires its natural gas from Canada and

Mexico, Europe’s gas is acquired primarily from Russia through pipelines that run through

Ukraine. Six European countries, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and the

Czech Republic depend on Russian supply for 80 to 100 percent of their consumption while

Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, and Germany depend on Russia

for its gas between 40 and 63 percent. (Menon et al. 125) Cutting energy supply with Russia

would lead to a heavy loss in energy to Europe. Though, the possibility of turning towards other

sources of energy supply has been brought up, it would take time to make it possible to turn

away from Russian supply.


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Impact on Ukraine

Ukraine’s failure to enter the European Union in 2014 lead to the Euromaidan. The

Euromaidan was a wave of demonstrations that escalated rapidly to violence eventually forcing

the President to flea and government reforms to take place. It also forced reconstruction and

heavy changes in its society, government, and even military. Such a crisis developed heavy

patriotism in many Ukrainians possibly being the reason Ukraine has not been yet taken over.

Ukraine’s ability and chances in joining the NATO has been crippled by the crisis. When

Ukraine had the chance to join NATO, most of the population was against it. The divide in the

population between the east and west had a large influence on this split as most of the west were

looking to side with Russia while the east were the ones looking to side with NATO. With the

annexation of Crimea and the current crisis, a revote on joining NATO has shown a majority in

joining the NATO. Though, with the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, “NATO leaders have

shown no interest in offering Ukraine membership in the alliance” (Menon et al. 152). The

current NATO rejection of Ukraine is a result of other countries not looking to get physically

involved in the crisis. Even Ukraine’s most supportive nations are not ready to risk a possible

war with Russia through a NATO alliance. (Menon et al.)

Ukraine’s chances with the European Union have also been hit as now Ukraine stands as

a risk to the European Union. The inability for Ukraine to join under the European Union leaves

many Ukrainians disappointed. Under the European, Union Ukrainians would have access to

better education, larger work opportunities, and easy access to simple travel and vacations.

Though, Ukraine was able to make agreements has been made to allow visa-free access for

Ukrainians into European countries. President Petro Poroshenko welcomed this as "a final exit of

our country from the Russian Empire." (RFE/RL)


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Looking at Ukraine’s economic status, it faces additional problems beyond those it has

been facing in the past years. With 25 percent of Ukrainian exports going to Russia, trade

sanctions stab the country’s exports and the economy (Menon et al.). In addition, its access to

European markets is doubted and Ukraine’s dependence on Russia remains. This includes access

to Russia’s gas supply. Ukraine’s dependence on Russia’s gas supply leaves it “forced” to accept

the price Russia puts on the gas. Failure to agree with Russia would leave Ukraine out of its

primary energy source. In other words, Ukraine in some circumstances must do as Russia says as

a way of “survival” until Ukraine is able to find a supply of energy that can make it independent

of Russia and its gas supply.

Looking Towards the Future

As the crisis continues, there have been said to be only three possible outcomes. Either

Ukraine wins, Russia wins, or the conflict just continues “indefinitely.” Though, the possibilities

of each outcome vary, and the outcomes will have its consequences and effects the rest of the

world. Ukraine winning this conflict seems highly unlikely as said by many due to its less

powerful military. While Ukraine has made advancements on the separatists and forced them to

retreat, they were still capable of inflicting significant casualties. In addition, the Russian active

support during such retreats only continues to show commitment in supporting the separatists.

Russia’s chances of claiming a “win” would involve taking over all eastern Ukraine (Menon et

al.).

The future of Ukraine is greatly dependent on the result of the current crisis. If taken over

and controlled by Russia, the possibility of the reconstruction of the Soviet Union stands and

nations bordered by Ukraine will be a threat. Countries neighboring Ukraine remain at risk and

will prepare for the possibility. On the other hand, Ukraine joining NATO and the European
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Union will install security in the country from Russia and corner it. NATO’s involvement would

put Russia at risk with starting a war with the world’s superpower as well as its allies. While a

war the United States says it is not ready to fight, we currently stand what could be considered a

new “cold war.” Left with the possibility of this crisis going on without solution, the loss of

many more lives is expected and the destruction of parts of Ukraine is inevitable.
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Works Cited

About the Source Ukrainian media sources Assorted media sources from Ukraine. “Anniversary

of Mass Deportation of Population from Western Ukraine to Siberia |.” Euromaidan

Press, 26 Oct. 2015, euromaidanpress.com/2015/10/26/anniversary-of-mass-deportation-

of-population-from-western-ukraine-to-siberia/.

Guardian, The. “Why Crimea Is So Valuable To Russia.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 7

Mar. 2014, www.businessinsider.com/why-crimea-is-so-valuable-to-russia-2014-3.

Menon, Rajan, and Eugene B. Rumer. Conflict in Ukraine : The Unwinding of the Post--Cold

War Order, edited by Deborah Chasman, MIT Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central,

https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pensu/detail.action?docID=3339933.

RFE/RL. “Ukrainians Celebrate Visa-Free Travel To EU.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty,

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 12 June 2017, www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-poroshenko-eu-

visa-free-goodbye-ussr/28539873.html.

“Vladimir Putin: The Rebuilding of 'Soviet' Russia.” BBC News, BBC, 28 Mar. 2014,

www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26769481.