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E-International Relations Publishing | 2018 | Taras Kuzio and Paul
The Sources of Russia’s Great Power Politics
Ukraine and the
Challenge to the European Order
1. CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES: ASSESSING THE DEBATE 1 [pdf-17]
2. THE SOVIET ORIGINS OF RUSSIAN HYBRID WARFARE 25 [pdf-41]
3. RUSSIA-WEST-UKRAINE: TRIANGLE OF COMPETITION, 1991–2013 61
4. ANNEXATION AND HYBRID WARFARE IN CRIMEA AND EASTERN UKRAINE 86
5. INTERNATIONAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THE CRISIS: TOWARDS A NEW COLD WAR?
6. CONCLUSION 143 [pdf-159]
NOTE ON INDEXING 150 [pdf-166]
Review by Will Zuzak:
(1) A 20-minute video summary of the book by Taras Kuzio has been
posted on youtube by
Published on 14 Jun 2018
Full interview (part 1) with Dr. Taras Kuzio on "The Sources of
Russia's Great Power Politics: Ukraine and the Challenge to the
European Order," by Taras Kuzio (Author), Paul D'Anieri (Author),
Amsterdam, Netherlands, 14 June 2018.
Ch. 1. CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES: ASSESSING THE DEBATE 1 [pdf-17]
points out that most of the "experts" on Ukraine have a background in
Russian and Soviet studies and, thus, view events from a Russian
perspective with its negative views towards Ukrainian independence.
There appear to be 5 main groups of experts:
pdf-20 -- Work on the Ukraine-Russia conflict can be divided into five groups.
(a) Western expansion (NATO, EU enlargement and democracy promotion) with Russia as a passive victim
(b) Russian geopolitical expansion
(c) Internal needs of Putin and siloviki (security forces)
(d) Geopolitical concepts
Russian national identity -- as a 'civilization' (not a nation-state)
extending beyond the boundaries of the Russian Federation
(a) Western expansion (NATO, EU enlargement and democracy promotion) with Russia as a passive victim
The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault’ -- promoted by both the left-wing critics of U.S imperialism and the "realists' a la Kissinger.
--Similarly, the work of Richard Sakwa, Stephen Cohen, Jonathan Steele
and John Mearsheimer among others, focuses on NATO, the US and
Ukrainian nationalists in explaining the outbreak of conflict.
- De Ploeg, Ivan Katchanovski; Mearsheimer, Rajan Menon and Eugene Rumer
-- Similarly, it is a contradiction of realism to argue that US
policies and NATO enlargement somehow made Russia more aggressive,
... Oddly, the arguments made by self-described realists regarding
Ukraine not only contradict realist theory, but they also adopt the
position of liberalism, which realists have scorned for generations.
(b) Russian geopolitical expansion; and (c) Internal needs of Putin and siloviki (security forces)
‘The Russians Went Ape'
-- The second body of scholarly work focuses upon Russia seeking to
expand its influence and gain recognition of its status as a great
power. This body of work on the crisis views Russia’s hybrid war in
Eastern Ukraine as the continuation of its long-standing policy of
creating frozen conflicts since the early-1990s in Moldova, Georgia and
third body of scholarly work agrees that the conflict is largely driven
by Russian behaviour, but sees that behaviour rooted in Russia’s
autocratic domestic politics rather than in its international
Another variant of this work analyses Russia as a ‘mafia state’, or
‘kleptocracy’, where pursuit of money is as important as nationalism
and seeking recognition of Russia as a great power.
(d) Geopolitical concepts
-- The fourth perspective sees the conflict as part of a broader
geopolitical competition between Russia and the West.
- ... tends to reduce Ukraine’s role to that of a battleground in a competition between Russia and the West.
... Menon and Rumer, Charap and Colton, and Toal strive to be
even-handed in criticising both Russia and the West for their roles in
(e) Russian national identity -- as a 'civilization' (not a
nation-state) extending beyond the boundaries of the Russian Federation
National Identity and Nationalism
-- The final body of scholarly publications, which is also the
smallest, analyses national identity in Ukrainian-Russian relations and
Russian chauvinism towards Ukrainians. In light of the large literature
on Russian nationalism, it is odd that it has been underemphasised as a
source of Russian behaviour in Ukraine, while scholars and journalists,
especially those defending Russia or criticising the West, put great
emphasis on nationalism in Ukraine, where nationalism is much less
salient and extreme nationalists much less influential than in Russia.
- The rest of the chapter expands on this theme.
-- As the fragmented nature of this literature review has demonstrated,
the field has not yet developed a clear set of analytical debates that
define the topic.
Ch. 2. THE SOVIET ORIGINS OF RUSSIAN HYBRID WARFARE 25 [pdf-41]
-- This chapter analyses the Soviet origins of Russia’s use of hybrid
warfare, assassinations, information and cyber warfare. Ukraine and
Ukrainian nationalism were -- and continue to remain -- key targets for
Soviet and Russian hybrid and information warfare.
pdf-42 -- The Soviet Union and Russia Compared
Very active periods of Soviet and Russian hybrid and information
warfare have taken place during periods of conservative and nationalist
retrenchment, when the USSR was ruled by Leonid Brezhnev, Yury Andropov
and Konstantin Chernenko from the mid-1960s to mid-1980s and under
President Putin since 2000.
- anti-Stalinist reformers Nikita Khrushchev and Gorbachev [were exceptions]
pdf-43 -- By
2007, the year Putin gave his inflammatory speech to the Munich
Conference on Security Policy, Russian nationalism was the dominant
influence among the majority of Russian leaders and public and United
Russia, Putin’s party of power, had become a ‘nationalist party of
-- The USSR had long undertaken ‘wet actions’ (assassinations) against
opponents of the Soviet regime. Ukrainian nationalist leader and social
democrat Symon Petlura was assassinated by a Soviet agent in Paris only
four years after the USSR was founded.
pdf-45 -- The Soviet Union
The first and perhaps most urgent goal was to counter the biggest
domestic threat to the USSR which came from nationalist movements
seeking the independence of their homeland (rather than from democratic
dissidents who sought a democratised USSR). The biggest nationalist
threat came from Ukrainians and the three Baltic States.
term ‘Banderite’ (follower of the controversial World War II-era
nationalist leader Stepan Bandera), used by the Soviet regime to denote
a sadist, murderer and Nazi accomplice, was revived by Putin’s regime
in its information war against Ukraine.
-- Russian democratic dissidents and nationalist opposition were
therefore different to national democrats and nationalists in Ukraine,
the three Baltic States and other non-Russian republics of the USSR.
-- In 1926, the assassination of Petlyura in Paris was followed by
three further assassinations of Ukrainian nationalist leaders: Yevhen
Konovalets in Rotterdam in 1939 and Lev Rebet and Bandera in Munich in
1957 and 1959 respectively. The assassination of Rebet was viewed as a
trial run for Bandera, using a cyanide poison gun that the KGB had
developed which left no traces and simulated a heart attack. Despite
the embarrassment produced by the defection of KGB assassin Bohdan
Stashynskyy in 1961 the USSR continued to undertake ‘wet operations’
through to the mid-1980s. In 1978, Bulgarian BBC journalist Georgi
Markov was murdered in London using ricin poison administered by an
pdf-48 -- The
USSR imprisoned and executed Ukrainian nationalists as late as 1987 and
its anti-nationalist propaganda declined in intensity only in the
late-1980s. ... On the success side, the stereotype of the Western
Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis and is a
Russophobe was established among many in Russia, some in Eastern
Ukraine, and even among many in the West. ... Russia’s information war
against Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine since 2013–2014 inflamed public
opinion which incited its proxies to ethnically cleanse Georgians and
commit human rights abuses in South Ossetia and the Donbas. ... Amnesty
International described the summary executions of Ukrainian prisoners
as amounting to war crimes.
-- Because Ukraine is seen as inextricably linked with Russia (see
chapter three), Russian leaders do not believe the West has the same
right to interfere in Ukraine as Moscow does.
-- A second goal is to use information and cyber warfare to undermine
the world order which was created after 1991 and which, Putin believes,
was meant to keep Russia down and weak. ... The Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) Customs Union and Eurasian Union were
presented by Putin as a Eurasian alternative to the EU for post-Soviet
- Exploiting internal crises in the EU, such as the
migration crisis and backing anti-EU populist nationalists, provides
Russia with opportunities to weaken the EU.
-- Russia’s efforts to promote separatist movements in the West are in
tension with its own determination to prevent Chechen independence and
to integrate the post-Soviet region, but so far the contradiction has
not appeared to be a problem.
- Russia has supported anti-EU
political forces in international organisations through manipulation of
the media and the provision of financial ‘loans’. ... In the European
Parliament, extreme right and left parties routinely support Russia’s
annexation of the Crimea, oppose Western sanctions and send ‘observers’
to elections in the Crimea and DNR and LNR.
- France and Germany have been key targets of Russia’s information and cyber warfare.
-- Russia’s information and cyber warfare targeted the campaign of
Emmanuel Macron because the other three leading candidates (populist
nationalist Marine Le Pen, Gaullist François Fillon, and Trotskyist
Jean-Luc Melenchon) had issued pro-Russian statements blaming Ukraine
and the West for the crisis, called for the recognition of Russia’s
annexation of the Crimea and supported the dropping of sanctions.
-- The series of Russian interventions beginning in the early 1990s
facilitated tactical continuity from the Soviet era to the post-Soviet
era. ... When Russian proxies prove too weak to win, Russian regular
army forces have been used repeatedly, as in Moldova’s Trans-Dniestr in
1992, Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 1992 and 2008, and
Ukraine’s Donbas in 2014–2015.
pdf-54 -- Russia’s information war continues to disparage Ukraine’s official views of the Holodomor.
Ukrainian and Russian nation-building policies have been diametrically
opposite with the former condemning Stalinism and the latter promoting
a cult of Stalin.
-- There are close parallels between the attempted poisoning of
Yushchenko in 2004 and that of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in
London in 2006, with the dioxin and radioactive polonium used in their
poisoning produced in Russian laboratories inherited from the USSR and
run since 1991 by the Russian secret services. ... Since 2014, Russian
intelligence services have conducted a targeted series of
assassinations in the West and Ukraine. US intelligence ties fourteen
assassinations abroad (outside Ukraine) to Russia.
- In 2017, targeted assassinations increased inside Ukraine. -- Denis
Voronenkov, Colonel Maksym Shapoval, Colonel Oleksandr Kharaberyush,
Colonel Yuriy Voznyy, Adam and Amina Osmayev, Timur Mahauri.
pdf-56 -- Peter Pomerantsev writes, ‘For what is Russia’s policy in Ukraine if not a war on reality?’.
- Central to hybrid warfare are ‘denial, disinformation and deception’.
-- Bret Perry divides Russian hybrid warfare in Ukraine into five
stages: Political subversion, Proxy, Intervention, Coercive Deterrence, Escalation.
-- Similarly, in the 1940s, the NKVD had created fake UPA (Ukrainian
Insurgent Army) units, which committed massacres of villagers and stole
food to turn the local population against the Ukrainian nationalist
underground. From the 1920s through to the 1980s, the Soviet secret
police had created fake underground organisations in the USSR which
gave their support to émigré groups in order to gather intelligence on
the Russian and Ukrainian diasporas, infiltrate their political groups
and lure their agents back to the homeland where they could be arrested
and if possible turned.
-- A major group drawn upon by the Russian authorities in the Donbas
have been Cossacks who have a tradition going back to the Tsarist
Empire of acting as the state’s vigilantes.
-- Gerard Toal writes that the transition from anti-Maidan protests to
armed revolt was only made possible by Russian ‘armed provocations’ in
collaboration with oligarchs, veterans, pro-Russian movements and
organised crime. Mass anti-Ukrainian propaganda on Russian TV and
social media helped transform public protests in the Donbas against the
ousting of Yanukovych into an armed rebellion whose militias were then
strengthened by Russian Special Forces. ... Many of these vigilantes
moved to join Russian proxies in the Donbas after the failed attempt to
create a Kharkiv People’s Republic.
- In July 2014, artillery in
Russia pounded Ukraine and the following month, with its proxy forces
on the verge of defeat, Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
pdf-62 -- One element of Russia’s information warfare has been the extensive publishing and disseminating of dezinformatsiya.
- Many exmples.
pdf-63 -- As the EU’s weekly Disinformation Review emphasises, some of Russia’s most notorious information war has been directed at Ukraine:
Similarly, Russia presented the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17
as having been carried out by Ukrainian forces attempting to
-- Coping with cyber warfare and hacking is a difficult undertaking
when countries are as closely intertwined as were Ukraine and Russia
- In May 2017, a Ukrainian presidential decree banned VKonakte, Yandex and Russian email servers.
Cybersecurity experts ‘believe Russia is using’ Ukraine ‘as a cyberwar
testing ground -- a laboratory for perfecting new forms of global
- Cyber-attacks cut off electricity to nearly a
quarter of a million Ukrainians just before Christmas in 2015, another
attack hit Ukraine’s power grid in December 2016 and a third was
unleashed in June 2017.
-- Another success was the use of disinformation to swing a close
referendum vote in the Netherlands on approval of the EU-Ukraine
pdf-68 -- Not all of Russia’s information war has succeeded.
Russia’s English-language television station RT has been an
increasingly visible tool of Russian information efforts.
- Whitmore points out that ‘Agitprop has its limits. Active measures have a downside, and often result in blowback’.
pdf-69 -- The second problem is a backlash from the country that is the object of Russia’s hybrid warfare.
- Peacefully integrating Ukraine with Russia is less likely now than ever before.
-- StopFake, established by academics and students at Kiev Mohyla
Academy, began exposing Russian disinformation three years before the
EU set up its own unit.
Four controversial de-communisation laws adopted in 2015 point to a
separation between a de-communising Ukraine and a Russia that is
re-Sovietising and promoting a cult of Stalin.
In contrast to the view that Russia’s use of hybrid warfare in Ukraine
was novel, this chapter has sought to show that Russia’s behaviour in
2014 and since in Ukraine had deep roots in the practices both of the
Soviet Union and in Russia before 2014.
Ch. 3. RUSSIA-WEST-UKRAINE: TRIANGLE OF COMPETITION, 1991–2013 61
-- In this chapter, we examine Ukraine’s relations with Russia from the
Soviet collapse in 1991 to the 2013–2014 crisis. This analysis shows
that Russia never voluntarily accepted Ukraine’s independence, made
several attempts in the 1990s to assert control over part or all of
Crimea, and showed elsewhere (notably Trans-Dniestr) tactics very
similar to those employed in Crimea and in the Donbas in 2014 and
pdf-78 -- History, National Identity, and Russia’s Claims on Ukraine
The Western region of Galicia had been ruled from Moscow only since
1939, when the Soviet Union, under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, invaded
what was at that time Eastern Poland.
- Crimea had been part of
Ukraine since 1954, when control was transferred from the Russian SFSR
to Ukraine. ... Crimea (...) was seized in the late 18th century from the Ottoman Empire and Crimean Tatar Khanate.
- Kiev and most of the territory to the east of it had been part of Russia [Muscovy] since 1667.
the Great, Peter I or Peter Alexeyevich of the House of Romanov was
born in Moscow, Muscovy on 09 June 1672. He became ruler of the Tsardom
of Muscovy (with his elder half-brother until 1696) on 07 May 1682. In
1703, he founded Saint Petersburg, which later became his capital. On
22 October 1721, he was officially proclaimed Emperor of All Russia
to consolidate all his conquered territories, thereafter termed the
Russian Empire with the capital in Saint Petersburg until 1918 (with
name changes to Petrograd in 1914, Leningrad in 1924 and back to Saint
Petersburg in 1991). He died on 08 February 1725 in Saint Petersburg,
Russian Empire. Russia as a a nation-state did not exist during this
The region west of the Dnipro River was mostly acquired as a result of
the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century.
-- Russian and Polish nationalists both saw evidence of foreign
conspiracies lurking behind Ukrainian attempts to claim a separate
national identity and build an independent state.
- The Tsarist Russian government in 1876 passed the Ems Ukaz (decree), banning publications in Ukrainian, in order to block a rise in Ukrainian national sentiment.
- The Holodomor
fell heavily on the Ukrainian-speaking peasants of Central and Eastern
Ukraine and the Kuban region of Northern Caucasus. The result ... is
that the current high level of Russian-speaking in Eastern Ukraine is a
direct result of the suppression of the Ukrainian language and the
starvation of millions of Ukrainian speakers under Soviet rule, which
many Ukrainians regard as Russian rule.
-- The broader point, however, and it is essential, is that the Russian
Empire and then the Soviet Union controlled vast swaths of Ukraine for
many years before 1991.
- The same history that shows some that Ukraine is [was] part of Russia [the Russian Empire]
shows others that Russia is a threat to the language, culture and lives
of Ukrainians. ... In this view, Ukraine is a distinct place and a
distinct people, but was always ruled by foreigners, and will be again
if it does not guard its independence jealously.
pdf-81 -- Ukraine and Russia Since 1991
This chapter reviews several key periods and incidents between Russia
and Ukraine since 1991. ... Ukraine since 1991.These episodes
(1) The 1991 agreement that formally dissolved the Soviet
Union and founded the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
(2) The long contentious struggle over ownership of the Black Sea Fleet and its base at Sevastopol, in Crimea.
The 1994 trilateral nuclear deal and the accompanying Budapest
Memorandum, through which Russia, the UK and the US provided security
assurances for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in
return for Ukraine’s agreement to surrender its nuclear weapons.
The 1997 Friendship Treaty between Russia and Ukraine, which appeared
to signal Russia’s acceptance of Ukraine’s independence. The treaty was
ratified by the state Duma and Federation Council in 1998–1999 with
Russian deputies linking the question to the Black Sea Fleet, Crimea
and Sevastopol. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov voiced territorial claims
against Ukraine and intervened in Crimean affairs throughout the two
decades leading up to the crisis in 2013–2014.
(5) The 2004 Orange
Revolution, in which Russia backed the fraudulent election of
Yanukovych and initiated its tactic of equating pro-Western Ukrainian
politicians with ‘fascists’. Combined with ‘colour revolutions’ in
Serbia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, this episode increased Russian
sensitivity to the threat of transnational diffusion of pro-democracy
movements to Putin’s rule.
pdf-82 -- 1991: The Collapse of the Soviet Union and Formation of the CIS
- That autumn [following Ukraine's declaration of independence on 24August 1991],
two contests proceeded in parallel. In one of these, Yeltsin sought to
seize control of the levers of power from President Gorbachev in
Moscow. ... In the second contest, Moscow tried to retain some form of
devolved control over Ukraine, while Leonid Kravchuk rejected any new
agreements until after the 1 December 1991 election and referendum.
- On 1 December 1991, Ukraine’s citizens voted decisively for independence [91%]
and for Kravchuk as president. ... Ukrainians chose the less
nationalist one (Kravchuk) over the former dissident and nationalist
leader Vyacheslav Chornovil. ... every oblast of Ukraine, including Crimea [54%], Donetsk and Luhansk, voted in favour of independence.
-- But dissolving the 1922 Union Treaty, legally, meant total
independence for Ukraine and Belarus. ... Kravchuk [insisted] that the
new ‘Commonwealth of Independent States’ take the form of an agreement
among states, with each state retaining a veto over any future action,
rather than a federation or confederation with some prerogatives
reserved for a new ‘centre’.
pdf-83 -- The CIS
Russia sought central control in three broad issue areas: trade and
monetary policy, peacekeeping and nuclear weapons.
- When Ukraine
created its own currency, and Russia introduced a new ruble,
essentially kicking the other states out of the ruble zone, they both
gained monetary autonomy.
- Ultimately therefore, Ukraine did not
participate extensively in much of what the CIS did, and this caused
great frustration in Russia.
- For Ukraine, Russia was trying to reassert the control that Ukraine had only recently escaped.
pdf-85 -- A more challenging problem was that of peacekeeping in the region. [Armenia and Azerbaijan, Trans-Dniestr region of Moldova, Abkaziz in Georgia]
In both Moldova and Georgia, Russia fomented separatism, supported it
militarily (while denying doing so), and then proposed that more of its
troops enter the conflict zone as peacekeepers. Hybrid warfare, it
would seem, long pre-dates the Donbas.
pdf-85 -- Nuclear Weapons
- More important for many in the West was the question of control over nuclear weapons.
From 1991 until the resolution of the issue in January 1994, this was
the primary focus of US foreign policy regarding Ukraine, and the US
and Russia joined forces to compel Ukraine to surrender the weapons.
To codify these commitments, the US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest
Memorandum in December 1994, in which they committed to ‘refrain from
the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or
political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will
ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in
accordance with the Charter of the United Nations’.
- [The US and Britain refused to intervene when Russia annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbas.]
Kuzio fails to mention that the Budapest Memorandum designated Ukraine
as a nuclear-free zone; whereas Vladimir Putin has declared his
intentions to base nuclear weapons in Crimea.]
pdf-86 -- The Black Sea Fleet, Crimea and Sevastopol
Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea and Sevastopol was questioned almost
from the beginning of the post-Soviet era, with Russian officials
making it clear that they believed even less in Crimea’s separation
from Russia than in the rest of Ukraine’s. Thus, in January 1992 ...
President Yeltsin stated ‘The Black Sea Fleet was, is and will be
Russia’s. No one, not even Kravchuk will take it away from Russia'.
-- Thus, in keeping with Yeltsin’s position, the Russian Congress of
People’s Deputies passed a resolution in January 1992 questioning the
1954 deal that gave Ukraine sovereignty over Crimea.
- In May 1992,
the Crimean parliament declared Crimea’s sovereignty ... , but a
compromise was reached in which Crimea’s autonomy was increased and the
Crimean parliament rescinded the sovereignty declaration. ... In 1995,
President Kuchma ... dissolved the institution of the Crimean
- In 1997, the two sides finally reached a compromise
which gave Russia roughly 80% of the fleet’s ships, a 20-year (until
2017) lease on part of the base, and the right to keep a force of up to
25,000 personnel at the base. The agreement committed Russia to
‘respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, honour its legislation and
preclude interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine’.
- ... in
2010 President Yanukovych lobbied the Ukrainian parliament to vote for
the Kharkiv Accords that extended the fleet base to 2042 ...
pdf-88 -- The Russia-Ukraine Friendship Treaty
Among other things, Article II of the treaty states that, ‘In accord
with provisions of the UN Charter and the obligations of the Final Act
on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the High Contracting Parties
shall respect each other’s territorial integrity and reaffirm the
inviolability of the borders existing between them’.
30 September 2018, President Petro Poroshenko and the Verkhovna Rada
do not intend to renew the Friendship Treaty for 2019 and will let it
- In many respects, this was the high point in
post-Soviet Russian-Ukrainian relations, as it appeared to signal
Russia’s recognition that the disintegration of the USSR in 1991 would
not be reversed. However, ... [despite Yeltsin's words of support, Boris Nemtsov, Moscaw Mayor Luzhkov and others vehemently disagreed.]
- In 1999, when the Friendship Treaty finally came to the Federation
Council for ratification, Luzhkov and others opposed it, fearing that
it would reduce Russia’s leverage over the region.
- [This demonstrates that] Russia had not accepted Ukraine’s independence or its full sovereignty over Crimea, especially Sevastopol.
emphasizes that these sentiments among Russian hardliners far predates
any talk about NATO expansion, EU Agreement or the Euromaidan of
pdf-89 -- The Orange Revolution
From the Friendship Treaty in 1997 until the Orange Revolution in 2004,
several important developments paved the way for the disruption that
was to follow. -- [Czech Republic,
Hungary and Poland joined NATO in 1999; NATO bombing campaign in Serbia
re Kosovo; Putin replaced Yeltsin; Kuchma won second term.]
[Georgiy Gongadze death bedeviled Kuchma; in November/December 2003
presidential elections Kuchma supported pro-Russian Yanukovych;
Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were pro-Western; Putin supported Yanukovych.]
-- The Orange Revolution was a turning point in Russia’s relations with
Ukraine and the West, but not for the reasons people expected at the
time. -- [Instead of
implementing reforms, reducing corruption and building a more
'European' state, the Yushchenko regime engaged in in-fighting with
the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, Eduard Shevernadze in 2003
and Viktor Yanukovych in 2003, Moscow concluded that] colour revolutions were camouflage for the real purpose of regime change of authoritarian leaders in the post-communist world.
In response, Russia began a series of domestic and international
initiatives aimed at preventing such protests in Russia. Domestically, [pro-Putin youth group Nashi; NGO limitations.]
pdf-92 -- Ukraine between Russia and the West
Ukraine’s relations with Russia have always interacted with Russia’s
relations with the West, and while Ukraine has sometimes used this
linkage to its advantage, the eroding relations between Russia and the
West increasingly made Ukraine a battlefield, rather than the bridge
that it hoped to be.
-- The notion that Ukraine might provide a necessary check on Russia
was not widely shared, though Zbigniew Brzezinski articulated this
argument cogently in early 1994.
- Several things happened to change this. -- [Trilateral
Agreement on nuclear weapons; violent conflict between Yeltsin and the
Congress of People’s Deputies in 1993; popularity of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky’s neo-fascist party and the Communist Party; invasion of
Chechnya in late 1994; arrest of Aldrich Ames.]
pdf-94 -- All those events pale in long-term importance next to the outbreak of war in the former Yugoslavia.
First, Russia and the US supported very different outcomes in the
conflict, undermining the notion that they had become partners rather
than adversaries. -- [Russia
supported Serbia, while the US supported the other ethnic nations and
especially the Albanian ethnic majority in Kosovo.]
expounds on the various points of contention between Russia, the US,
the EU and the various Ukrainian regimes, including NATO, corruption,
democratic reforms, etc.]
Crucially, Putin viewed Ukraine as an important member of Putin’s
future Eurasian Union and Russia worked towards achieving this goal.
Russia clearly viewed the Eastern Partnership as a ‘geoeconomic’
threat, and many have seen this as another instance where the West
forced Russia into a corner.
pdf-98 -- Conclusion
This chapter has sought to emphasise two key points. First, Russia’s
desire to limit Ukraine’s independence and to retake control of at
least some part of Crimea did not emerge during the Putin era. Rather
they were there from the very beginning. Second, the example set by the
Orange Revolution was seen as threatening to Russia because such a
revolution might be replicated in Russia.
- But, in terms of
getting the historical and causal arguments right, instead of saying
the West caused the crisis, it is much more accurate to say that Russia
had claims on Ukraine, that the West and Ukraine resisted those claims,
and that Russia used force to get its way.
Ch. 4. ANNEXATION AND HYBRID WARFARE IN CRIMEA AND EASTERN UKRAINE 86
We first address the question of whether the conflict in the Donbas is
best defined as a civil or interstate war. The chapter then analyses
the Crimea and Donbas over five phases with the key drivers listed in
pdf-102 -- Civil or Interstate War – or Both?
-- Not surprisingly, those who tend to blame the conflict on the West
see it is a civil war, and those who blame it on Russia as an
Our judgment is that, as was the case in Crimea, the conflict in Donbas
is more fundamentally driven by Russia than by internal Ukrainian
forces, and has lasted as long as it has, and has produced the level of
casualties it has, largely because of the forces and supplies
contributed by Russia.
[Kuzio discusses the academic definitions of civil and interstate wars.
He notes that a Russian agent, Igor Girkin, initiated the fighting in
the Donbas, but fails to mention that Mr. Girkin first initiated the
takeover of Crimea before being transfered to the Donbas. Kuzio
lists many instances of direct Russian involvement in the conflict.]
-- First, Russia provided extensive ‘information’ support, using mass
media to paint the new government in Kiev as illegitimate and as
determined to oppress Russian-speaking Eastern Ukrainians. Second,
Russia provided organisational and material support, using its state
capacity to infiltrate organisers and equipment to help coordinate
opposition. Third, Russia provided the actual people being mobilised,
both informally, via the volunteers and mercenaries Laruelle analyses,
and formally, through the introduction of regular army forces.
pdf-108 -- From Orange Revolution to Annexation and Hybrid War
The conflict over Crimea and Eastern Ukraine did not begin with the
Euromaidan revolution and the ousting of Yanukovych. Chapters two and
three emphasised that the longer-term sources of the conflict reach
back to the Soviet era and earlier.
- We analyse the process leading to violent conflict in five phases
(1) Countering the Orange Threat: 2004–2009 -- pdf-108
- The 2004 Orange revolution brings a pro-Western government to power in Ukraine.
- Expressions of nationalism and anti-Western xenophobia increase in Russia.
In 2005, the Party of Regions signs a cooperation agreement with United
Russia and the following year Russia brokers a coalition between the
Party of Regions and Crimean Russian nationalists-separatists.
- Ukrainian radicals receive paramilitary training in Russia in preparation for the 2010 elections.
- Putin’s speeches at the 2007 Munich security conference and 2008 NATO summit extend claims about Russia’s role in the region.
- The Russkii Mir project is launched.
- Russia invades Georgia.
Russia’s deteriorating relations with Ukraine in 2008–2009 lead to the
expulsion of two Russian diplomats and President’s Medvedev’s open
letter to Yushchenko.
- EU launches the Eastern Partnership in 2009.
[Please read original text for details.]
(2) Putin Turns Further to the Right, 2010–2013 -- pdf-112
- Yanukovych’s election brings domestic and foreign policy changes in Ukraine.
- Russia’s lease of Sevastopol as a Black Sea Fleet base is extended to 2042-2047.
- Ukraine adopts a non-bloc foreign policy and drops the goal of NATO membership.
Russian intelligence gradually takes control of and recruits spies
within the SBU and Ukrainian military intelligence.
- Russia launches the CIS Customs Union in 2010 as a stepping-stone to a Eurasian Union.
Widespread anti-Putin Russian protests take place in 2011–2012,
fuelling fears that Russia is the next Western target for a colour
revolution and regime change.
- Putin wins re-election and turns even further to the nationalist right.
- In 2013, Putin begins to promote the idea of Ukrainian-Russian unity.
- In summer 2013, Russian trade boycotts and kompromat are used to pressure Yanukovych to drop European integration.
[Please read original text for details.]
(3) Plans Undone: Euromaidan Ukraine, 2013–2014 -- pdf-115
- Yanukovych’s reversal on the EU Association Agreements prompts the Euromaidan Revolution.
- Russian information warfare promotes portrayal of Euromaidan ‘fascists’.
Russian intelligence supports Ukrainian security forces in suppressing
protests and training and financing anti-Maidan vigilantes.
- Russian ‘political tourists’ are transported into Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk and Odesa to swell the crowd numbers.
[Please read original text for details.]
(4) Protests, Hybrid War and Annexation, 2014 -- pdf-117
- EU peace deal falls flat after protestors are killed.
- Yanukovych flees Kiev, eventually to Russia.
- Euromaidan opposition parties take power and remove Yanukovych as president.
In late-February, Russian ‘little green men’ invade the Crimea and
backed by local nationalists, Cossacks, organised crime and
‘self-defence’ forces take control of state institutions without
Ukrainian government opposition.
- From late-February to late-April,
attempts are made to organise pro-Russian uprisings in Eastern and
Southern Ukraine but most quickly subside.
- In early-April, Russian ‘little green men’ invade Ukraine and move to the Donbas to support protestors.
- In mid-April, Ukraine launches an ATO against Russian proxies in the Donbas.
- In May, a nascent pro-Russian uprising in Odesa ends in bloodshed.
[Please read original text for details.]
For some reason Kuzio never refers to Igor Girkin being involved in the
takeover of Crimea. Neither does he refer to the impassioned speech of Volodymyr Parasiuk [English subtitles, also here and here] before a huge crowd
on the night of 21Feb2014 demanding that Viktor Yanukovych be gone by
10:00 AM the next day. The timeline of the Euromaidan struggle is
archived on this website under the title "Road to Dictatorship versus the Stuggle for Freedom".]
(5) Military Invasion, Phoney Peace and Real War, 2014–? -- pdf-122
- In July 2014, the war escalates as Russian artillery pounds Ukraine from the Russian side of the border.
Russia sends sophisticated surface-to-air Buk missiles to counter the
Ukrainian Air Force and one of these shoots down Malaysia Airlines
- In August, Russian proxy forces in Luhansk and Donetsk
are on the verge of being defeated but are saved by Russian forces
invading Ukraine and inflicting a major defeat on Ukrainian forces at
- Ukraine signs the Minsk I accord, negotiated by Ukraine,
Russia, France and Germany. Despite the agreement, intense fighting
continues and leads to the signing of Minsk II in February 2015.
Neither accord is implemented.
- Russia transforms proxy militias into a 40,000-strong DNR-LNR army.
Conflict continues into 2018. Although it is widely assumed Minsk II is
dead, there is no Plan B or likelihood of new negotiations leading to
[Please read original text for details.]
pdf-126 -- Conclusion
- The conflict in Ukraine is going to be difficult to solve, for several reasons ...
- First, the conflict is not primarily a civil war but an international war.
Second, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was many years in the making,
even if it took the events of 2014 to provide the opportunity.
Third, it appears that there is no path toward a negotiated solution;
or rather that the existing path is a dead end.
[W.Z.: In his book titled From Cold War to Hot Peace, Michael McFaul notes that in 2008 Vladimir Putin conceded that Crimea belonged to Ukraine:
pdf-109 -- Soon after Russia’s invasion of Georgia, Putin said publicly
that Russia had no legitimate claims on the peninsula: "The Crimea is
not a disputed territory . . . Russia has long recognized the borders
of today’s Ukraine."
pdf-247 -- As Putin stated in 2008, “Crimea is not a disputed territory
. . . Russia has long recognized the borders of modern-day Ukraine.”]
5. INTERNATIONAL RAMIFICATIONS OF THE CRISIS: TOWARDS A NEW COLD WAR?
Ukraine is the central battleground in this new cold war, and the
weakness of its government’s commitment to reform causes difficult
dilemmas for its supporters in the West. Finally, we examine the
prospects for settling the conflict, concluding that there is little
likelihood of an improvement, because the different sides differ so
profoundly in their goals.
pdf-131 -- Changing Attitudes
On top of its intervention in Ukraine, Russia’s interference in
European and US elections consolidated the view in the West of Russia
as an adversary that could not be trusted and needed to be confronted.
Even after the annexation of Crimea, many German elites supported a
pragmatic policy of accommodating a great power rather than sacrificing
for a small one with little independent history.
- Timothy Snyder
warned the German Bundestag ... ‘That is an inheritance of an attempt
to colonise a people not regarded as a people’.
- The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014 cemented the change in opinion.
pdf-132 -- International Mediation: From Normandy to Minsk
- [Despite early Ukrainian successes]
The Russian army and its proxies routed Ukrainian forces at Ilovaysk
and pushed toward the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, seizure of which
would be a major step in linking Russia with Crimea.
- Russia was ready to consolidate its gains and Ukraine to cut its losses. -- [Minsk Agreement of 05Sep2014, which was regularly violated.]
- [Minsk II agreement was signed on 12Sep2015 and OSCE was provided observer status.]
pdf-134 -- Sanctions
The most notable Western response to the conflict has been the
sanctions enacted against Russia by the EU and the United States.
The sanctions enacted over the Russia-Ukraine conflict were narrowly
targeted on specific individuals in the Russian government and on three
sectors of the Russian economy: finance, oil and gas, and defence.
- In some respects, the sanctions may strengthen Putin’s grip on Russia. ... may make Russia more self-sufficient ...
Economic sanctions thus represent a middle point between ‘cheap talk’
and a military response, which would be a costlier signal.
- [Unfortunately,] The German government has continued to support the Nordstream-2 gas pipeline project, ...
pdf-136 -- A New Cold War?
Until 2003, it was widely believed that a modernising Russia might be
accommodated into the international system as a constructive and benign
- Russia has finally quit its policy of trying to integrate
into the West and become part of the Euro-Atlantic system.
the end of World War II, as at the end of World War I and as during the
era of Catherine the Great, the question was where the
line between Russia and the West will be drawn. ... the in-between
states have struggled for centuries to maintain their independence.
available evidence is that Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and especially
its annexation of Crimea, are highly popular in Russia, and not merely
the project of an unpopular and autocratic government.
- Putin’s view that Ukraine is ‘Russian’ and is rightfully part of the Russkii Mir and Eurasia Union -- rather than Europe -- reflects a broad consensus among Russians.
pdf-139 -- The EU Response
The EU’s offer of an Association Agreement to Ukraine was seen in
Brussels as a benign engagement with an important neighbour, but this
ignored how Putin had come to view EU enlargement into Eurasia, like
NATO expansion, as creating a potentially irreversible loss in the
geopolitical contest in Central Europe.
- ... the fact that Minsk II
is widely viewed as dead means that the sanctions now look
semi-permanent. This is especially the case following the adoption of
tougher US sanctions in summer 2017.
- Europe is not entirely unified on how to approach Russia and Ukraine going forward, ...
... sympathy for Putin’s style of rule among the left and populist
nationalists in various countries engenders opposition to sanctions and
other measures. Latent anti-Americanism probably contributes to that
pdf-141 -- The NATO Response
The end of the Cold War and the presumption of a new order in which
violence was ‘off the table’ in Europe allowed European states to focus
on the non-military aspects of security, such as migration.
response to the Ukraine conflict, NATO and its members have rededicated
themselves to strengthening the organisation and to reinforcing the
part of its mission that consists of ‘keeping the Russians out’.
The assurance measures were aimed at convincing allies in the East, as
well as Russia, that NATO could and would defend all of its members,
including the three Baltic States. -- [Readiness Action Plan with a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force of 20,000 troops.]
Among the proposals has been Germany’s ‘Framework Nations Project’, an
idea which predated Russia’s military actions but has become much more
relevant because of them.
- Two essential weaknesses interact. First, many of the member states spend relatively low shares of GDP [below 2%] on
defence, an issue that has been raised in visibility by US President
Donald Trump. ... Second, because NATO consists of over two dozen
separate militaries, the whole is less than the sum of the parts.
pdf-143 -- Russia’s Policy
Russia has met the West’s outrage over the Ukraine conflict with
defiance. It has continued to maintain the legality of the annexation
of Crimea, its non-involvement in what it terms a ‘civil war’ in
Eastern Ukraine, and the fault of the West for both conflicts.
On Crimea, there appears to be no room for bargaining. Russia’s
annexation of the territory and its rhetoric indicate that Russia
intends to retain the territory permanently. ... Ukraine has
tacitly admitted the weakness of its position by not fighting to
reclaim the territory.
- On Eastern Ukraine, it is much less clear
what Russia’s preferences are. The status quo, that of a low-level
conflict that can be escalated at any time provides Russia much
leverage, and prevents Ukraine from tackling many of its domestic
- [For the rest of this section, D'Anieri discusses; permanent neutrality; non-bloc status; Russian concessions unlikely; China; nationalism versus global universalism.]
-As a result [of declining Western influence],
it appears likely that Russia, believing that it holds a hand that is
strong and growing stronger, does not feel much urgency to resolve the
pdf-147 -- The US and the EU
During the Euromaidan itself, the US and EU struggled, generally
successfully, to adopt common positions regarding a resolution of the
- The EU, represented by foreign ministers from Germany and
Poland, brokered a deal ... on 21 February 2014 ... but opposition
leaders on the Euromaidan (in contrast to the leaders of opposition
political parties) rejected it, insisting [Volodymyr Parasiuk] that after the killings of protestors Yanukovych must leave office.
- Generally, the US has supported a more strident response than has the EU.
Following the imposition of sanctions, discussion in the US turned to
what kind of military assistance the US should provide Ukraine.
- Many others in the US opposed providing military assistance to Ukraine.
Bipartisan support in the US for a hard line on Russia is stronger than
it has been in many years, perhaps since the divisions that emerged in
the 1970s over détente.
pdf-148 -- Ukraine and the West
For many years, the EU took a back seat to the United States in dealing
with Ukraine, but following the Orange Revolution and the launch of the
Eastern Partnership in 2009 it took a greater role.
- The US was
less focused on the principle of Ukraine’s freedom of choice, and more
focused on the broader challenge that Russia’s action appeared to
- The West’s efforts have continued to be undermined by
the same patterns of backsliding on corruption and the rule of law that
have characterised Ukraine since the early post-Soviet period, led to
‘Ukraine fatigue’ after the Orange Revolution and could happen again.
- But Saakashvili did not last and the anti-corruption bodies have been prevented from prosecuting high-level officials.
A crucial question for the future is whether Ukraine fatigue will
resurge to the point where it seems more pragmatic to write off Ukraine
than to continue an open-ended commitment to keeping it afloat.
pdf-150 -- Prospects for Settling the Conflict
- The prospects for peace in Ukraine appear to be dim.
For Russia, the optimal solution appears to be that the DNR and LNR are
rejoined with Ukraine, but with a high degree of autonomy, and with a
political leadership controlled by Russia. ... Moreover, any such deal
would encounter stiff resistance from Ukrainian public opinion,
including veterans of the war and their families and friends, who are
growing in number.
- Ukraine’s government holds to the implausible
position that it is going to retake control of the Donbas and Crimea as
- [For the rest of
this section, D'Anieri discusses various scenarios, including a land
bridge to Odesa; Ukraine abandoning Crimea and Donbas as proposed by
Motyl; defining Crimea and Donbas as 'temporarily occupied areas' and
have army replace ATO; procrastinate into future; Pinchuk's proposals; economic factors.]
In other respects, Russia’s policy represents a throwback to a much
earlier period, before the twentieth century, when sovereignty was
often incomplete and contingent on deals with great powers, and the
borders of states like Poland were revised repeatedly according to the
shifting balance of power and the diplomatic needs of more powerful
neighbours. It is precisely that system that the EU rejects, and that
Russian scholars believe is returning.
pdf-154 -- Ukraine in the New Cold War
Perhaps the best reminder we can apply from the first Cold War to the
second is that it endured for 45 years. ... A major difference ... is
that there is no ‘iron curtain’ separating the sides.
- [D'Anieri continues discussing various scenarios, but is pessimistic about any near-term solutions.]
strong, prosperous Ukraine closely connected with Europe might be more
attractive, and that provides additional incentive for Russia to stymie
progress that could someday emerge in Ukraine’s domestic politics.
6. CONCLUSION 143 [pdf-159]
Disagreement continues over both the causes and potential solutions to
the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. We use the word ‘solutions’
carefully, because there is little prospect for re-establishing the
level of confidence or the norms that prevailed prior to 2014.
The conflict that emerged in 2014 had its roots at the very outset of
the post-Cold War period, because from the very beginning, Russia
sought to prevent Ukraine’s independence and, when this was
unavoidable, sought to limit it both in terms of sovereignty and
- ... the approach to information warfare and the
use of unconventional tactics (‘active measures’) has deep roots in the
Soviet era, even if the specific tactics of cyber warfare have taken
advantage of modern technology. The spread of disinformation, brazen
lying, ‘whataboutism’, and targeted violence were all tactics used by
the Soviet Union, particularly in its long-running battle against the
Ukrainian independence movement. ... Russia’s conception of its
national identity -- including the view that Russians and Ukrainians
are one people -- has sources going back centuries.
- This is
not to say that military conflict was inevitable, or that the events of
2013-2014 did not provide both added incentive and opportunity for
Russia to use force. But it does indicate that the desire to revise the
territorial arrangement in Ukraine did not emerge in response to NATO
or EU enlargement.
than trying to summarize the rest of Kuzio's conclusions, the reader is
invited to read the original text. We conclude with his musings on
'democratic regimes' versus 'autocractic regimes' in the last
- In sum, the relationship between regime
type and foreign policy is less clear than many appear to assume. That
is a crucial point, because a major contributor to conflict has been
the West’s desire to spread democracy (assuming that in doing so they
are also spreading peace) and Russia’s desire to prevent it (assuming
that in doing so it is preventing states from aligning against it).
Both policies rely on the assumed links between regime type and foreign
policy, and both therefore rely on flimsy foundations. Ironically,
breaking the presumption of a link between regime type and foreign
policy might help ratchet down tensions here and elsewhere.