Russia’s relations with the West are in deep turmoil. While the competitive dynamic between Russia and the West has come to a head in Ukraine, all of the “in-between” states — Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan — are objects of a contest among outside powers. This contest has become a negative-sum game, benefiting none of the parties: The West and Russia now find themselves locked into a dangerous and damaging competition, while the states in the region remain to varying degrees unstable, unreformed, and rife with conflict. Both Russian and Western policy toward these states has seemingly reached a dead end. Continuing with the status quo will likely perpetuate instability, poor governance, and a long-term Cold War-like atmosphere in West-Russia relations. However, without a credible alternative to the status quo, both the West and Russia seem doomed to continue it. The RAND Corporation convened a working group composed of experts and former policy practitioners from the United States, the European Union, Russia and the in-between states to consider proposals to foster cooperation, reduce tensions, and increase stability. The papers collected here outline these findings and recommendations. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 refocused global attention on the strategic significance of a region that rests on the fault lines of two former empires—the Russian and Ottoman Empires—with involvement by European powers, such as Great Britain, France, and Germany. This analysis provides an overview of the region with a view that the past is prologue to the region’s future as restive powers reanimate empirical political and military strategies in a modern context. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The “green men” who fanned out across Crimea in early 2014, establishing control over key infrastructure and clearing the way for once-marginal political actors to seize the reins of power, were the vanguard of a forced political change that has led to grave human rights abuses across the Crimean peninsula. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Full Text in English [PDF format, 23 pages, 632.29 KB].
Ukraine struggles to survive as an independent nation against external and internal forces – Russia, the powerful neighbor next door, and Russian sympathizers throughout eastern Ukraine. “Russian-backed aggression, relentless propaganda and meddling in Ukraine’s domestic politics have pushed many Ukrainians to adopt a deeply polarized worldview, in which constructive criticism, dissenting views, and even observable facts are rejected out of hand if they are seen as harmful to Ukraine,” argue the authors. The writers identify this as a new form of exceptionalism. If commitments to tolerance, human rights and freedom to dissent are undermined, Ukraine will differ little from Russia. And that would give the international community pause in coming to the struggling nation’s aid. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Publics of key member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) blame Russia for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Many also see Russia as a military threat to other neighboring states. But few support sending arms to Ukraine. Moreover, at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if attacked by Russia. A median of 39% among NATO publics say Russia is the main culprit in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Ukraine crisis and broader deterioration in relations between Russia and the West has created a heightened danger of unintended clashes between Russian and NATO military forces, and continues to deflate hopes for near-term progress on nuclear arms control. The report offers key recommendations and identifies additional measures to build confidence and strengthen security in Europe, enhance global nuclear stability, and set the stage for further progress on reducing nuclear weapons. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Ukraine Crisis: Risks of Renewed Military Conflict after Minsk II. International Crisis Group. April 1, 2015.
According to the brief, danger of renewed fighting in Ukraine’s east is mounting. It shows that neither side is looking to compromise or able to win outright. It also sets out a new Western strategy with Russia to defuse one of the greatest post-Cold War threats to European stability and global order. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military operations in Eastern Ukraine have overturned the post–Cold War norms that had provided stability and development for the former Soviet countries bordering Russia. As neighboring countries assess their own security situation based on Russia’s aggressive practices in Ukraine and the West’s response, they are actively testing the new contours of Russian and Western engagement, regional alliances and relationships, and regional conflict dynamics, according to the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
A ceasefire in the fighting for eastern Ukraine was announced after leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine met in Minsk. But a ceasefire alone may not produce a comprehensive settlement or an enduring peace, warns the author. “That requires resolution of the underlying, and possibly intractable, dispute over the constitutional form of the Ukrainian state.” Russia is shrugging of sanctions and international condemnation. The strategy of intervention, described in Russia as delivering protections for pro-Russian enclaves in bordering states, has been successful in disrupting former Soviet satellite states’ full embrace of European trade or ties with NATO. The ceasefire may end the brutal fighting, and could also chill democratic pursuits and self-determination for nations that are geographically near Russia but which hold higher aspirations than pleasing a bully next door. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The report argues for greater U.S. leadership in ending the conflict in Ukraine and Russian involvement in the region. The report, authored by eight former senior U.S. diplomatic and military officials, urges the United States and NATO to bolster Ukraine’s defense and deter further Russian aggression by providing military assistance to Ukraine, including lethal defensive assistance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].