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Russia-Ukraine Conflict in Crimea

Russia-Ukraine Conflict in Crimea

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Russia-Ukraine Conflict in Crimea

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  1. Russia-UkraineConflict in Crimea Unit 11: Russia and the Post-Soviet Republics Chapter 5

  2. Geography and Recent History Between Ukraine and Russia • Ukraine was one of 15 separate republics that made up the Soviet Union until Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 • Crimean Peninsula was part of Russian Republic until 1954 when Soviet leadership transferred it to Ukrainian republic. • Many ethnic Russians still live in Ukraine, especially in eastern part of the country including Crimean Peninsula • Traditionally, they’ve had closer ties to Moscow than to the rest of Europe.

  3. EurAsEC (EAEC) vs. EU • Eurasian Economic Community is an organization of 5 member countries that was created to encourage economic cooperation among countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) • European Union is an organization of 28 members countries mainly in Western and Central Europe – maintains free trade among its members and encourages common economic, social, and foreign policies. • Ukraine’s movement toward the EU threatened plans to expand new EAEC into Ukraine and elsewhere.

  4. Timeline • November 2013 – Ukrainian President vetoed a trade agreement with European Union because he favored trade relations with Russia. Pro-Western protests began. • February 18-19, 2014 – clash between protesters and police caused rioting and people died. • February 22, 2014 – Ukrainian President impeached by Parliament for deaths of protesters. • Ukrainian President fled the capital of Kiev, first to Crimea and then to Moscow. • February 26-27, 2014 – Russian troops moved into Crimea. • March 1, 2014 – armed soldiers controlled access to Ukrainian military bases • March 4, 2014 – Putin ended military maneuvers but left troops in Crimea to protect local Russian interests. • Mid March 2014 – a vote was held in Crimea and “97%” of Crimea residents voted to join Russia, Ukraine stated that Russia came in an stole a part of the territory of an independent country

  5. Why Did Putin Send in Troops? • Putin says the upheaval in Ukraine is a threat to Russia and Russian citizens in Ukraine, and he needs to protect them

  6. Is Putin trying to bring back the Soviet Union? • When Soviet Union collapsed, its republics became independent nations • Russia was left with 23% LESS land and half the population of the Soviet Union • Many Eastern European countries became Western-leaning democracies • Putin has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century (it left the U.S. as the sole superpower…) • Russia has repeatedly intervened in the affairs of its former republics • 2008 – sent troops into Georgia in response to a conflict over two small regions with strong Russian ties • International community outraged but it did little

  7. How has the U.S. responded? • President Obama said “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” the day before Russian troops intervened • Putin sent in troops anyway so U.S. imposed sanctions on some high-level Russian officials and suspended military ties and trade talks. • Russian-leaning parliament in Crimea voted to hold a referendum (vote) on breaking away from Ukraine and rejoining Russia – 97% voted to join Russia • Most experts agree that the U.S. has very little leverage…none of us wants a war

  8. Is this the start of a new Cold War? • During the Cold War (1945-1991), the U.S. and Soviet Union battled for influence over Europe and beyond • In current crisis, the U.S. and Russia are at odds over the direction of Ukraine – will it draw closer to Europe or Moscow? • The debate in Russia’s parliament over whether to give Putin the go-ahead to use military force sounded at times like the darkest days of the Cold War.

  9. Why does Ukraine Matter? • Ukraine is a small country of limited importance to the U.S. • But Russia isn’t – it’s huge and is of great importance to the U.S. • U.S.-Russian relations are what this standoff is really about • U.S. relations with Russia are the worst they’ve been since the Cold War • U.S. needs Russia to help deal with international crises like the civil war in Syria and the nuclear threat from Iran • Russia is also critical to the U.S. for a very practical reason – it’s the only country that could destroy the U.S. in 30 minutes…

  10. What to do? • There is little the U.S. and NATO can do to reverse Russia’s takeover of Crimea • Putin MAY NOT be done yet! • Weak response to Russia-Georgia situation in 2008, weak response to Russia-Ukraine situation in 2014 • What’s to stop Putin and Russia from taking more land? • First: the ongoing U.S.-led effort to reduce and better secure the global store of nuclear weapons and nuclear material (the subject of a major conference led by President Obama last week in the Netherlands).

  11. Three possibilities for unseen impacts • First: the ongoing U.S.-led effort to reduce and better secure the global store of nuclear weapons and nuclear material (the subject of a major conference led by President Obama last week in the Netherlands). • We must also worry about how the Crimean case might, over the longer term, affect the cohesion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), especially if getting away with Crimea tempts Putin to push at the borders of NATO countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. • And lastly, Putin has unleashed a dangerous precedent by breaking what was becoming a near-taboo against territorial acquisition by force—a trend the world has been working toward since the end of WWII •