free essays
Free essays

Why Russia-Ukraine crisis was caused by Russia’s attempt to protect

Name 10

WhyRussia-Ukraine crisis was caused by Russia’s attempt to protect itseconomy and sovereignty.

Thetopic of international relations has been gaining significance in themodern world following the increase in the popularity ofglobalization and the need for peaceful coexistence between nations.The high rate of advancement of communication technology, complexglobal economy, faster means of transport and an increase in valuefor cooperative relationships are vital to the global society (Almoni1). A positive relationship between countries, especially theneighboring ones is expected to facilitate the formulation ofeffective trade agreements. In addition, the issue of immigration ormovement of people from one country to another cannot be ignored whenaddressing the issue of international relations. The present studywill address the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. The main focus ofthe study will be the international agreements between the twocountries, their interests, realistic analysis of the crisis, and thefuture of the relationship between the countries. The ongoing crisisbetween Ukraine and Russia resulted from Russia’s attempt toprotect its sovereignty and economic interests using the militaryforce.

of the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Thecrisis between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for severaldecades, but gained momentum February 2014 and they are expected toproceed as long as the interests of the two countries remainunaddressed. The crisis resulted from the desire of the governmentsof the two countries (Russia and Ukraine) to take control of themulti-ethnic region known as the Crimean Peninsula (Borger 1). TheCrimean Peninsula has been under the administration of the governmentof Ukraine, which governs the region as an autonomous Republic ofCrimea until February 2014 when the Russian government took theregion. The larger proportion of the population of Crimean Peninsulais ethnic Russian (58 %) while Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainiansare the minority (Mackinnon 1). The presence of the majority Russianpeople in the region was used by the government of Russia as a validreason to send its troops in order to protect the interests of itspeople.

Overthe years, Russia and Ukraine have been exchanging the control of theCrimea Peninsula through peaceful agreements. The region of Crimeahas also made several attempts to free itself from the control ofeither of the two countries, but in vain. For example, the parliamentof Crimea passed a unanimous resolution to declare its independencein 1992, but the vote was nullified by both the parliaments of Russiaand Ukraine (Schmemann 1). Although it was agreed that CrimeanPeninsula should remain under the government of Ukraine, the presenceof a Russian naval base in the region has been the major point ofcontention in the relationship between the two countries. In mostcases, the aggression between Russia and Ukraine are agitated byUkraine’s attempt to join the European Union, where the contentionover the Crimean Peninsula is often used as a weak point for Russiato express its grievance.

Theongoing crisis began with what is commonly referred to as the Kievrevolution. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 800,000demonstrators went into the streets when the former president ofUkraine (Viktor Yanukovych) delayed the signing of the associationagreement between Ukraine and The European Union (Whitmore 1). Thedelayed signing of the agreement that would lead to the integrationof Ukraine to the European Union resulted from economic pressureexerted by Russia on Ukraine. The procrastinated signing of the dealwas perceived by the majority of Ukrainians as a betrayal. Thisresulted in violent demonstrations that were conducted by Ukrainianswho held pro-European values. The violence resulted in death of about103 people and 1418 protestors injured (Dettmer 1). It is suspectedthat the killing was done by snipers who were hired by the formerpresident Yunokovych and secret services in Russia. This culminatedin the impeachment of the president and the appointment of an interimgovernment. However, Russia refused to acknowledge the new leadershipstating that it came into power through unconstitutional means andarmed insurrection. This was cited as the major excuse for Russia todeploy troops in Crimea to protect the majority Russian residentsfrom extreme right forces.

Thetwo countries, Russia and Ukraine, had different reactions towardsthe armed violence and impeachment of the Ukrainian president.Although the majority of the Ukrainians opposed Viktor’s decisionto procrastinate the signing the EU-Ukraine integration agreement,all the ex-presidents accused for its interference with the affairsof Crimean. The former presidents of Ukraine, including LeonidKravchuk and Leonid Kuchma described the present crisis as Russia’spolitical interventions designed to interfere with the internalaffairs of Ukraine and its relationship with the European Union(Hanschke 1). The people of Crimea have not been seeking forsecession from Ukraine, but their interest is to have extendedautonomy and rights to govern the Crimean affairs with minimuminvolvement of the government of Ukraine. Russia, on the other hand,have dismissed the accusation and stated that it is pursuing theinterest of the people of Crimea to join the Federation of Russia.Russia holds that the people of Crimea have the power to decide thefuture of their territory and Russia will be ready to respect theirdecision. Study shows that about 90 % of Russians are in support ofunification of Russia with the Crimea Peninsula and 86 % of them holdthat Crimea was unfairly transferred to Ukraine by the Sovietleadership (Hanschke 1). This implies that the majority of theRussian population supports the government’s decision to deploymilitary to Crimea.

Relevantinternational agreements

Thereare two key international agreements that have been closelyassociated with the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Thefirst agreement concerns the treaty made by the two countries toallow Russia to establish its naval base in Crimea in exchange fordiscounted natural gas. In this treaty, Ukraine would get a 30 discount on natural gas bought from Russia in exchange for permissionto develop the Russian naval base in Sevastopol’s Black Sea (Watson1)The agreement was named as the Ukrainian-Russian Partition Treaty.The agreement allowed Russia to retain a maximum of 25,000 navaltroops 132 armored vehicles, 24 artillery systems, and 22 militaryplanes at its naval base until 2042 (Watson 1). However, thegovernment of Russia has violated the agreement and sent moremilitary officers in Crimea, who have been killing the Crimean andUkrainian military officers in the region. This has motivated thegovernment of Ukraine to withdraw its military officers and theirfamilies from Crimean with the objective of saving their lives.

Thesecond agreement and the involvement of IGOs

Thesecond agreement pertaining to the issue of Russia-Ukraine crisis wasmade under the witness of the European Union and representatives ofthe government of the United States. The agreement, which wasformulated at a meeting held in Geneva, stipulated a series of stepsthat would pull Ukraine from the ongoing crisis (Borger 1). Theagreement stated that all the armed groups (including the Ukrainianprotestors) should leave the government buildings and other publicplaces that they took over during the crisis. In return, all peoplewho participated in the crisis, apart from those who committedcapital crimes, will be offered an amnesty. The priority was to endviolence, which will then usher in the process of public consultationthat will lead to the devolution of constitutional powers to theaffected regions, including Kiev and Crimea.


Althoughsome non-governmental organizations (including the AutonomousRepublic of Crimea and the Integrated and Development Center -IDC-for Information and Research) have made some contributions towardsthe resolution of conflicts in Korea and especially in Crimea, theauthorities in the region have frozen their accounts in order to stoptheir operations (Erik 1). Research shows that both the governmentsof Ukraine and Russia fear that the presence of strong non-governmentorganizations might worsen the situation. The non-governmentorganizations have been playing different roles in the region. Forexample, ARC has been pushing for an increase in the autonomy ofCrimea, but its secession from Ukraine. This position seems to be athreat to the government of Russia, which is seeking the integrationof Crimea to the Republic of Russia. Different interests of the twogovernments have further motivated the freezing of the accounts ofthe NGOs, thus reducing their capacity to continue with theiroperations in the region.

Relevantcountries and their interests


Theprimary cause of Ukraine-Russia crisis is the conflict of interestbetween Russia and the European Union. The main concern has been thereasons for Russia to care about the economic deals between Ukraineand the Western Europe. There are two factors that increase theRussia’s concern about the integration of Ukraine to the EuropeanUnion. First, Russia fears the occurrence of economic blowback thatwould result from the massive influx of low-priced, but high qualityproducts from Europe to Ukraine (Curran 1). These low-priced productsmight end-up in Russia and they will not be taxed because of theexisting free-trade agreements between Ukraine and Russia. This meansthat a successful integration of Ukraine to European Union willsignificantly destabilize the Russian economy. Secondly, Russia fearsthat the integration of Ukraine to the European Union will bring theNATO forces closer and this will subject the Russian sentiment aboutits supremacy to a risk (Curran 1). A successful integration wouldweaken the Russian image as one of the formidable world powers. Inessence, the interest of Russia is to protect its internal economyand supremacy in the region.


Russiahad succeeded in convincing the former president of Ukraine Viktor toreject the offer given by the European Union. However, the presentinterim leadership and the majority of the people of Ukraine haveexpressed their interest in joining the European Union. The interestof Ukrainians is to shift the national economy from Russia to WesternEurope (Curran 1). This means that Ukrainians are pushing foreconomic reforms that will bring Ukraine’s economy in line withthose of the Western countries that are perceived to be moreprosperous compared to the Russian economy. Therefore, the rejectionof an offer given by the European Union was a betrayal of theinterests of the population Ukraine, and this was the major cause ofupheavals. Accepting the offer, on the other hand, would go againstthe wishes of Russia and this would trigger international aggressionsbetween the two countries.

Realisticand liberal perspective

Realismis an ideology based on the notion that constraints are imposed onpolitics by human nature and with the absence of external forces,including the international government (Donnelly 9). Based on thefirst assumption of this approach, which states that theinternational system should remain anarchic, both Ukraine and Russiahave the authority to establish international relations without beingdictated by some higher authority. In this case, Russia should notpressure Ukraine to avoid establishing a relationship with theEuropean Union. However, Russia can review its free trade agreementswith Ukraine in order to protect its economy instead of usingaggressive means in addressing the issue. Ukraine, on the other hand,should make a rational decision to pursue its interests and secureits survival. The international governments (including the governmentof the United States) should not persuade Ukraine or Russia to makeany decision regarding their international relations.

Theliberal perspective, on the other hand, considers state as a unit ofanalysis, which calls for the consideration of the international law,non-governmental organizations, and international organizations askey players in global politics (U.S. Diplomacy 3). This implies thatinternational relations should be viewed as a system that involvesinteractions intended for mutual gain. The liberal perspectiveassumes that peaceful behaviors and cooperation between states ispossible (U.S. Diplomacy 3). This means that both Russia and Ukraineshould consider the interest of each other when making decisionsregarding their international relations. Under this perspective,Ukraine should have either avoided establishing a new relationshipthat would harm Russia or involve Russia in making such a decisionthrough consultations. Russia, on the other hand, should haverespected the existing international laws (such as the limit on thenumber of military staff that should be deployed to the Crimea) anduse peaceful negotiations in notifying Ukraine about the impact ofits integration to the EU on its economy.

Thefuture of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia

Theongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia threatens the internationalrelationship between the two countries, the European countries, andthe rest of the world. Ukraine seems to be the victim of circumstancebecause of the Russian military power, which is being used topressure Ukraine to avoid economic agreements with the European Union(Borger 1). This is likely to strengthen the relationship between theEuropean Union, the United States, and Ukraine and weaken theirrelationship with Russia. In addition, the decision by Russia to usemilitary force in Crimea and breaching its agreement with Ukraine islikely to attract trade sanctions and restrictions, including itsexclusion for the Group of 8.


Thecrisis between Ukraine and Russia can be attributed to Russia’sdecision to use military force to protect its economy andsovereignty. Although the two countries have disagreed over theownership of the Crimea Peninsula for several decades, the recentdecision by Russia to take over the region was motivated by otherfactors other than increasing its geographical area. The refusal bythe former president of Russia, Viktor, to sign the offer given bythe European Union resulted from pressure exerted on Ukraine byRussia. Despite the involvement of the international community inresolving the issue, the dispute between the two countries willpersist as long as the Russian economy and sovereignty is subjectedto serious threats. Liberalism is the most appropriate perspective toaddress the issue because it will facilitate cooperation, peacefulnegotiations, and respect of the international laws.


Almoni,P. Theimportance of international relations.Santa Monica: Demand Media, 2014. Web.

Borger,J and Luhn, A. Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreements ondefusing conflict. TheGuardian.17 April. 2014. Web. 20 April 2014.

Curran,J. Russia-Ukrainianconflict explained.New York: Huff Post, 2014. Web.

Dettmer,J. New evidence: Russian spies backed Kiev’s killers. TheDaily Beast.3 April. 2014. Web. 20 April 2014.

Donnelly,J. Realismand international relations.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

Erik,B. Concerning the recent situation of Ukraine NGOs in Crimea. 4April. 2014. Web. 20 April 2014.

Hanschke,H. Putin’s move on Crimea bolsters popularity back home. USToday.19 March. 2014. Web. 20 April 2014.

Mackinnon,M. Globe in Ukraine: Russian-backed fighters restrict access toCrimean city. OneWorld of Nations.26 February. 2014. Web. 20 April 2014.

Schmemann,S. Crimea parliament votes to back independence from Ukraine. TheNew York Times.6 May. 1992. Web. 20 April 2014.

U.S.Diplomacy. Theoriesof international relations.Washington, DC: U.S. Diplomacy, 2014. Web.

Watson,I. and Tkachenko, M. Russia, Ukraine agrees on naval-base-gas deal.CNN.21 April. 2010. Web. 20 April 2014.

Whitmore,B. Ukraine’sthreat to Putin.Washington, DC: The Atlantic Monthly Group, 2013. Web.