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  • Author: Alla Hurska
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On February 19, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) imposed sanctions on Ukrainian tycoon and politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife, Oksana Marchenko (Pravda.com.ua, February 19). Medvedchuk is a leader and people’s deputy of the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform–For Life, the largest opposition faction in the Ukrainian parliament. Moreover, he is a close acquaintance of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The NSDC sanctions list also includes five Russian nationals and Ukrainian national Nataliya Lavreniuk. The latter is Marchenko’s friend and the common-law spouse of Taras Kozak (already under sanctions), a people’s deputy from the same political party and Medvedchuk’s business partner. Apart from targeting those eight individuals, sanctions were imposed on nineteen associated businesses, including firms that own aircraft and operate direct flights from Kyiv to Moscow as well as a number of joint stock companies registered in Russia, Moldova and Portugal (Pravda.com.ua, February 20). These measures came two weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the shutdown of several television channels—ZIK, NewsOne and 112—connected to Kozak. The move was described by Zelenskyy as a necessary step to fight Russian propaganda. But according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) and the NSDC, these actions were motivated by more complex issues. Specifically, the three aforementioned TV channels were being financed by limited liability company trading house Don Coal (Rostov, Russia), which receives revenue from smuggling coal out of the Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” (LPR/DPR) (Pravda.com.ua, February 4).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Oil, Sanctions, Coal
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Eugene Rumer, Richard Sokolsky, Aleksandar Vladicic
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russian foreign policy remains focused primarily on Europe. That said, Moscow’s diplomatic foray into Asia hinges on its burgeoning strategic partnership with China. Much has been written about Russia’s so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific since its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and break with the West, but there is less to this supposed strategic shift than meets the eye. The country is and will remain a European—rather than an Asian—power by virtue of its history, strategic culture, demographics, and principal economic relationships.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Demographics, Diplomacy, History, Partnerships, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During his first year as President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky prioritized presidential power-building. In order to do so, he relied heavily on the old system and established practices, such as “hands-on” management and the personalization of state agencies. Institution-building was replaced by the targeted fine-tuning of the dominant system. Some important reforms launched by the government in autumn 2019 were later stalled and reversed. As before, the adoption and implementation of comprehensive reforms will largely depend on Western pressure and conditionality. The major problem is that there are multiple centres of power in the country and the president’s actions only produce an illusion of control, while in reality the system is fragile and unstable. During the rest of his presidency, Volodymyr Zelensky will increasingly depend on oligarchs and govern through situational alliances. In exchange for their support, he may have to acquiesce to their continued dominance over the economy and the restoration of their influence in politics. Instability will intensify as his personal popularity wanes and economic and political crises deepen.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Leadership, Institutions, State Building, Transition, Elites
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: For more than half a decade Ukraine has been one of epicenters on the map of geopolitical crises in the world and consequently drawn a lot of international attention worldwide. Ever since it gained its independence form the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was a of the country also changed. Ukraine has been dominated by Russia as the Russian Empire penetrated deep toward the Black Sea in the 17th century, and the position of inferiority towards Moscow was also the case in the USSR. The first upheaval dubbed the Orange Revolution sort of buffer zone between the West and East, between the United States and European allies on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other. With the change of political elites and their political preferences, the orientation in 2004, brought to power Viktor Yushchenko, who tried to conduct reforms and bring Ukraine closer to the West, but the effect of his Presidency were ephemeral. President Viktor Yanukovych turned Ukraine’s sight towards Russia again, but also kept the process of EU association alive before suddenly deciding not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU just days before the planned signing ceremony on 29th November 2013. This Yanukovych’s abrupt turn from EU in favor of stronger ties with Russia triggered the wave of massive public demonstrations which later become known as the Euromaidan and subsequently the Ukrainian revolution in February 2014. The Euromaidan Revolution toppled Yanukovych and the new pro-Western government was formed. Russia soon reacted to the change of tide in Ukraine by annexing the Crimean peninsula in March and soon the armed conflict between the pro- Western government in Kiev and Russia backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts broke out. Ever since the spring of 2014, Ukraine has been engulfed in a brutal conflict in the east of the country that is hampering its efforts to reform and get closer to the EU. Nonetheless, Ukrainian leadership is under the new President Volodymir Zelensky is striving to forge stronger links with the West and the EU.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea
  • Author: Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The liberal, norms-based international order is being challenged by two contradicting trends: the rise of power politics and geopolitical conflicts, on the one hand, and the diffusion of power and increased importance of networks, on the other. This paper explores how increased connectivity is shaping the agenda and practice of EU foreign policy and re-defining the traditional tensions between realist and liberal approaches to global politics. It argues that the EU should develop foreign policy strategies that utilise networks as an asset against power politics, looking at two examples of how a network-based approach can help the EU to defend its values and interests: networks for resilience against hybrid threats, and networks for supporting Ukraine. These cases shed light on how the concept of networks can contribute to the EU’s strategy in today’s fluid global politics and unstable regional security environment.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Liberal Order
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Arkady Moshes
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: While speculation about whether Russia may repeat the Crimean scenario in Belarus should not be totally dismissed, exaggerated alarmism would not be appropriate either. Rather, Moscow’s policy is aimed at making sure that Belarus and its leadership remain critically dependent on Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Empire, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Belarus, Crimea
  • Author: Brenda Shaffer
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the state of current US-Russian relations as at its “lowest point since the Cold War.” This situation has potentially dangerous implications for the US, Russia and Europe, as well as a variety of regional conflicts around the globe. Among the top of this list is the Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. In the past three years, the frequency, intensity and technological level of flare ups in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan have intensified. Adding to the propensity for danger is the fact that several regional conflicts are now linked together—Syria, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh and the policy toward Iran—with actions in one conflict affecting developments in another.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine