Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Understanding Russia’s role and aims in the Ukraine crisis

In spite of its official title, the so-called “Ukraine Crisis” has been, for the last four months, driven by Russian rather than Ukrainian domestic politics, writes Andreas Umland for the Harvard International Review. Not all, but some of the most critical roots of both the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and the armed uprising in Eastern Ukraine are to be found in Moscow and not in Kyiv. The Kremlin’s increasing involvement in Ukraine, to be sure, is not a proper aggression. It was also not a sufficient condition for the “Ukraine Crisis,” to emerge and escalate. Yet a glance on Crimea’s annexation as well as the apparently civil war in the Donets Basin, from a historic and comparative perspective, reveals Moscow’s deep immersion in these seemingly Ukrainian internal affairs. After annexing Crimea, the Kremlin’s active support, weaponization and stuffing of the Russophile separatist movement as well as its propaganda war were crucial additional and clearly necessary prerequisites for the previously already high, but peaceful tensions, in the Donbas, to turn violent.

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