Ukrainian crisis: political economy of confrontation


What could be the motivations of the key players on the Ukrainian question? The United States does not want to allow recognition of the status quo in Ukraine, in the form of preserving Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the simmering conflict in Donbass. A Ukraine with a pro-Russian government is categorically unacceptable. Ukraine’s new territorial losses are also unacceptable. Strictly speaking, all these objectives have been largely achieved. The events of recent years have radically changed Ukraine’s course, pivoting it towards the West. There is no alternative to this course in the country. The United States is doing quite well in containing Russia, maintaining and increasing its influence in the region. Even if Ukraine does not become a member of NATO, active military cooperation with it remains quite possible to the detriment of Moscow’s interests. The cost of solving all these problems for Washington is relatively low.

The main interest of the European Union is the prevention of military conflict. Brussels simply does not have sufficient political resources outside of NATO to influence the military-political situation. The war is accompanied by a humanitarian crisis whose consequences will affect the European Union. Without any war, EU countries work effectively with Ukraine’s peripheral economy and use it as a demographic resource.

Peace in Ukraine enables the EU to make full use of all its instruments. The war devalues ​​them.

Moreover, the EU is not interested in excessive risks in relations with Moscow, especially in the energy sector. Brussels will unconditionally support Ukraine’s sovereignty. But if peace is preserved, it will not jeopardize its economic interests, as evidenced by the experience of Nord Stream 2.

Moscow is interested in a radical solution to the problem of military security in the Western theater. No matter how many statements NATO officials make that the bloc poses no threat to Russia, Moscow will view the alliance’s potential with great trepidation, especially given the extent of the political confrontation. In Russia’s perception, the territory matters, especially as a springboard for a possible military strike. The solution to the Crimean problem in 2014 is fully in line with this logic: Crimea is of critical importance for the control of the Black Sea and the security of its southern borders. In light of these considerations, for Moscow, the loss of human capital may be secondary.

The possible exodus of the population from the territories that came under Russian control is not a critical factor in relation to the question of the military use of these territories both against Russia and by Russia itself. Moreover, the experience of Crimea’s integration suggests the opposite. The region has received large-scale investments and the level of its development, according to several parameters, is today higher, despite the existing sanctions. In other words, the further territorial expansion can be considered in Moscow as one of the scenarios. However, an open war with Ukraine will not solve the existing security problems, even if new territories are under control.

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