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Why the Civil Unrest in Ukraine is more about Russian Foreign Policy and the EU

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With recent tension in the eastern region over a 2009 Ukrainian gas deal . There has been recent talk of the EU taking Russia before the (WTO) World Trade Organization. Russia still views the nation as satellite within its former region of influence. Russia still reels from the Humiliation of its collapse and seeks to take a pragmatically assertive posture to regain not only what as it sees regional dominance but establish itself as viable economic force. An economic trade war would pose a limited risk at best for the EU with the exception of oil. Russia being the largest provider of Oil and natural gas for the EU could cripple the EU within weeks given a trad war erupting.

The Yeltsin foreign policy era left his successor with a crisis in U.S.-Russian relations as well as Russian- Post Soviet State relations . Moscow has been angered by NATO's expansion and the bombing of Serbia. Yeltsin foreign policy focused on the Kremlin obstructing U.S. policy in the Gulf but cannot free Iraq of its sanctions and is but a bystander in the Arab-Israeli diplomacy. The Russians oppose American influence over the Caspian oil routes and Turkish competition in Central Asia. Finally, there was the nuclear balance. Yeltsin foreign policy was unable to sustain their current nuclear arsenal and modernize it, or to agree to the reductions in START II, the Russians face new pressure from the U.S. to revise the ABM Treaty. Meanwhile, Moscow's once formidable conventional forces are starved for equipment.

Vladimir Putin by far is the most misunderstood of the three Russian Leaders. Much like Khrushchev and Yeltsin. Putin was shaped by the era in which he ruled. Tasked with bringing economic and foreign policy reform to a struggling and internationally irrelevant Russia. Tsygankov on pg. 131 describes Putin as “ critical of past practices of over extending Russia’s foreign policy resources. “Then Tsygankov follows up with describing Putin as pragmatic and full of self-concentration on pg. 131. One can firmly estabish that Putin unlike Gorbachev and Kozyrev was not eager to replicate Western social democratic or liberal values.

Putin is quoted by Tsygankov as saying that Russia would never become a 2nd edition of the U.S or Great Britain. Putin’s strong and focused foreign policy seeks to build alliances within its region to counter China, the US and EU. The Russian Federation under the stern hand of Vladimir Putin has mastered this position of unitary actor dating back to its days ruled by the Soviet Party and the revolution. In the Russian Federation all information is filtered through the Kremlin to the office of Presidency of Vladimir Putin. This is authoritative in nature do the fact any deviation can and will be enforced by the authoritarian function.

Not much can be said about Putin and Dmitry Medvedev seeing as Dmitry Medvedev presidency was nothing more than a “Putin Proxy” due to term restraints placed on Putin which have been recently circumvented. Russia’s foreign policy approach has not become confrontational or colonial nor has not returned to the era of attempting to balance the United States’ global reach instead, Russia has sought to capitalize and utilize on its new economic recovery and energy competitiveness and tap into Western economic markets, while maintaining domestic political stability and an essentially defensive security posture. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Moscow’s Mussolini,” Wall Street Journal in 2004 Putin’s speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy became a high point in Russia’s new assertiveness and was extremely critical of the U.S. “unilateralism,” yet it only meant to preserve and deepen achievements of cooperation with the West.

Many have interpreted the Russian Federation international assertiveness and at times such as in 2008’s Georgia incursion even antagonistic as an indicator of Russia’s departure from the West and a vindication of their old fears about Soviet Union. Such a view disregards that Russia had to endure in silence and by some observers even swallow the war in the Balkans, two rounds of NATO expansion, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty, U.S. military presence in Central Asia, the invasion of Iraq and, now, plans to deploy elements of nuclear missile defense in Eastern Europe, along with the recent media war implicating Russia as a potential enemy. It is this overt and by Russian Standards hostile posture that creates and enflames the idea of assertive pragmatism

Russia Federation is the primary embodiment of hegemonic war and assumes an integral role in “the evolution of a global system governed by a dominant power by virtue of its military and economic strength.” General War is defined by Levy suing Toynbee’s Theory that states “a bid for world domination by the leading power evokes an opposing coalition of all the other powers in the system and a "general war to maintain the balance of power.”

Michael Ross is has stated “oil wealth often wreaks havoc on a country's economy and politics, makes it easier for insurgents to fund their rebellions, and aggravates ethnic grievances.” He continues to note that over the last several years, and “with violence falling in general, oil producing states make up a growing fraction of the world's conflict-ridden countries.”

Ross additionally observes that “the more widespread problem is that it breeds conflict within them” and that “the number of oil-producer-based conflicts is likely to grow in the future as stratospheric prices of crude oil push more countries in the developing world to produce oil and gas.” According to RS, “oil is not unique; diamonds and other minerals produce similar problems,” but as the world's most sought-after commodity, “and with more countries dependent on it than on gold, copper, or any other resource, oil has an impact more pronounced and more widespread.”

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