The Prolonged Ukrainian Crisis
The initial unrest in Ukraine starting in late 2013, has led to a prolonged crisis and war involving many international actors. Using theoretical tools such as nationalism, imperialism and the diversionary theory, I will discuss the some of the driving forces behind this conflict. I will also analyze the conflict using historically examples and by applying the game theory.
The Ukraine crisis officially began with protests in November of 2013 after then president Viktor Yanukovych chose closer ties and a bailout from Russia over signing a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union. Violent acts against protester led to the impeachment of president Viktor Yanukovych who soon fled to Russia. Soon after, on March 18, 2014, Crimea was official annexed by Russia. Crimea put a status referendum up for vote, asking the people whether or not they want to join Russia, or restore Crimea’s constitution and status as a part of Ukraine. The results showed over ninety percent of the population favoring Russia. Thus Russia officially recognized Crimea as a sovereign state. After the annexation, many other international actors including the United States joined the picture by condemning the 2014 Crimea referendum.
In addition to conflict in the state of Crimea, pro- Russian demonstrations began taking place in the Donbass region of Ukraine. This soon led to armed conflict between separatist forces, which include Russian paramilitaries, and the Ukrainian government. In response what the United Nations deemed an illegal annexation of Crimean and deliberate destabilization of a neighboring sovereign country, the European Union along with the United States imposed restrictive measures and sanctions against the Russian Federation. The United States, European Union and NATO military alliance have all accused Russia of directly providing support to separatist rebels on both sides of the Eastern Ukraine border; A claim that Russia continues to deny. With fighting still going on to this day even after many ceasefire agreements, the Ukraine crisis continues to be a major international issue.
One of the main reasons of this conflict comes from the fact that Ukraine as a country is split ethnically between those who identify as Ukrainian and those who identify as Russian living in Ukraine. This brings up the theoretical tool of nationalism. Russia and Ukraine are the two direct players in this crisis, and when conflict arises, citizens are forced to pick a side. What led to the initial protesting was the split decision of whether or not to become closer with the European Union or Russia. In addition to ethnic Russian living in Ukraine supporting change, much of the support is still coming from Russia itself. The people of Russia relate to their ethnic counterparts living in Ukraine and as Vladimir Putin has already shown, continue to offer their support (often with the use of military action).
Another narrative related to nationalism can describe Russia as a neo-fascist state with a eurasianism ideology. Eurasianism is a political movement in Russia that denies the sovereignty of Russia’s neighbors and would like to see the re-acquisition of the Russian empire. This brings up the theoretic of imperialism. Its hard to refute that Russia is expanding it territory through the use of military force, which essentially defines imperialism. One other idea to bring up is the diversionary theory. With interest rates on the rise, fifty rubles to one US dollar, a rising unemployment rate, and an economy based on oil that is going through its own crisis, this theory is hard to overlook. The events transpiring in Ukraine are going on at the same time as Russia’s economy is near the brink of disaster. With Vladimir Putin fearing domestic turmoil due to Russia’s current economic state, initiating an international conflict like the one in Ukraine