Example Of Research Paper On US AND Russia In The Ukrainian Crisis
History has long bear witness to the long-standing rivalry between the United States and Russia as its pages are filled with skirmishes and conflicts to prove who would claim supremacy. Both nations have played a key role in shaping up the international arena and throughout their numerous skirmishes, the United States has claimed supremacy against the former Soviet Union, which has reformed as the Russian Federation. While the two nations have been civil to one another since the end of the Cold War, there are still several instances wherein these two titans clash. Recently, the world has seen the two nations’ rivalry come back to life in the 2013 Ukraine Crisis. As the Ukrainian government slowly fell apart, Russia stepped in to annex the Crimean Peninsula despite Ukraine’s claim in the region. Russia’s actions have historical, geopolitical, economic and strategic intentions which they felt were threatened by the uprising and the growing US influence, while the United States’ actions reflect both a position of ensuring peace in the region and a position to protect their claim and national interest.
Ukraine is known as a former Soviet territory and one of the most influential Eastern European nations at the present time. Ukraine also serves as a buffer between Russia and its former territories – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and its ports are strategic points to traverse the Black Sea and Antarctica. Despite gaining its independence from Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has remained strong in the region, which bolstered many Ukrainians to distrust the government. It is said that Russia had evoked Ukrainians to start small revolts to ensure that Ukraine remains unstable politically. However, when Russian supporter and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from office in February 22, 2014 because of his persistent attempts to return Ukraine back to Russian influence, Russia had immediately sent its forces dressed as the Crimean self-defense force. Russia also slowly seized control over the Ukrainian-controlled Crimean Peninsula. Russia’s actions had immediately caused outrage throughout the globe, and immediately called for Russia to stop its mobilization. Despite threats of possible sanctions and political liabilities, Russia continued to exert its influence by getting the Crimean Parliament to annex back to Russia ‘legally’ and slowly disentangle the Ukrainian defenses in its eastern and southern borders .
For Russia, Ukraine – like its former territories – is a vital geopolitical and economic hub that Russia cannot afford to lose. Ukraine, for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian loyalists, was not supposed to be separated from the country because it was one of the country’s oldest territories under the Russian Empire. Crimea, for instance, was included in the original Russian map before the Bolsheviks relinquished its control to Ukraine in 1920. The Bolsheviks were Russia left-wing parties under the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party . Putin also sees the Crimea as “Novorossiya”or New Russia and losing the Peninsula should not have been permitted in the first place due to its historical value to Russia’s overall history . There were also sentiments prior to the Ukrainian Crisis by Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. He remarked that Russia will more likely press onwards to Ukraine to return the country back to Russia’s sphere of influence and become a full European empire once more .
Through the Crimean Peninsula, Russia could now use the Black Sea as a strategic naval hub and a trading route. With Ukraine still out of Russia’s influence, Russia cannot easily gain Western exports such as hydrocarbons and oil easily without channeling longer routes open to the country. It is also a critical defense region because Russia would be able to deflect attacks coming from the West. Currently, Russia has the Novorossiysk, Sebastopol and Odessa acting as its naval ports; however, they are located much farther from the main channels of the Black Sea. Once Ukraine returns back to Russian control, not only would Russia use these areas to secure trade, but they would also be able to establish open communication channels with Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Eurasian region .
Furthermore, Russia is also moving towards regaining Ukraine to end the Gas-For-Base Agreement, which is affecting Russia’s oil industry. The Gas-For-Base agreement would give Russia access to the three naval bases of Ukraine and in turn, Russia would pay Ukraine with cheaper oil imports. Prior to the 2014 political uprisings, Russia had denounced the 2010 Kharkiv Agreements that would allow Ukraine to gain a $100 discount from its oil imports from Russia in exchange for Russia’s use of the country’s naval ports such as in Sebastopol. If Russia also gains control over the region, it will also open doors for the country to explore Ukraine’s oil reserves – mostly the reserves located in the Crimean Peninsula. According to estimates, the Peninsula currently has a proven reserve of over 165.3 billion cubic meters of gas and an additional 44 million tons of oil that can generate $1.2 billion without adding its untapped reserves of almost 2.3 trillion cubic meters of gas. Additional income can also be generated by Russia through the 131 agroindustrial enterprises and 130 tourist locations scattered throughout Ukraine and the Crimea, bringing billions of dollars once they are developed to cater guests and investors. Experts believe that Russia aims to get these resources for its own as a means to recuperate from their losses in the Second World War and in the Cold War, which had paved the way for the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1990 .
Finally, Russia is working on regaining influence in Ukraine in order to defend itself from the growing influence of the US in the region by using NATO and the European Union. On a general point of view, Russia is fearful of the threat the Western expansion has on its national interests and gears up for a possible conflict to occur once Ukraine opens its doors to this expansion. Putin remarked and admitted in an interview that the forces brought to the Crimean Peninsula are indeed Russian forces and stressed that they are trying to organize peacefully the Crimean annexation before Ukraine fully enters membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union as they see it as a security threat . Although Russia does not have a clear position on the issue with NATO, NATO’s expansion is now illegal because it is now getting involved in issues far from its geographic scope, the North Atlantic. With the US at the helm of NATO leadership, Russia feels that the US is trying to contain them once more much like how the country has done in the Cold War.
Russia’s arguments were justified when NATO has placed intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, nuclear-armed submarines and bombers across Eastern Europe as if they are all pointing towards Russia and warning them against possible military movement . In the case of the European Union, Russia fears that Ukraine’s inclusion to the EU would be detrimental to Russian economic growth. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov once remarked that the Association Agreements recently done by the EU and Ukraine would reduce Russian channels to gain quality Ukrainian goods as Ukraine would allot 85% of these goods to the EU and vice versa. Lavrov also stressed that Russia's version of a Customs Union is much more beneficial than the EU model because competition will be well tended and developed without causing possible unequal trading. If Russia gains Ukraine and its former territories, Lavrov points out that the country would establish its Customs Union which would develop Eastern European economic development .
On the other hand, the United States’ position in the conflict is both a part of its own political interest and its stance as a world leader. US Vice President Joe Biden stated in his speech in Harvard University’s Institute of Politics that the US is pushing for international action against Russia to establish a line between NATO and Russia to establish a united transatlantic community. According to Biden, America’s leadership had pushed the EU to take action towards Russia despite the overwhelming losses it would put to the EU economy. John Laughland of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation explained that US is deciding for Europe and practically divide Europe apart from Russia. Once that is done, the US can now create a Free Trade Treaty that would open further doors for the US to extend its influence in the region without necessarily using the NATO and the EU to gain benefits. A Free Trade Treaty is similar to the European Union’s Common Market which would remove trade barriers for the United States to enter European markets .
In addition towards this political interest of the US to divide Europe, the United States is suspicious over the sincerity of Russians to actually solve the conflict as Russia’s actions contradict their promise. President Barack Obama had stressed his position in the recent Geneva negotiations between the US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. He declared that if Russia does not acquiesce to the terms discussed in the forum, the US will not hesitate to impose sanctions to ensure that Russia will indeed submit and stop their involvement in the crisis . However, the US cannot easily impose immediate and direct action because according to Barnes and Solomon (2014), the US government is uncertain as to the actual military capacity and intent of the reestablished Russian army. They are also unaware as to what Russia intends to do with the military mobilization as signs of Putin’s intensions remain unclear to the Americans. Obama also wants to ensure that American action would be justified once Russia actually makes its move militarily towards Ukraine .
As of the present time, the issue of Ukraine remains unsolved as additional factors had brought the conflict into the next level. Although some may point out that Russia is going too far with their quest for control over its previous territories, it is clear that the country is not just acting for its self-interest but also acting to safeguard its sovereignty and interest. With the US, NATO and EU trying to overwhelm its control and closing possible means to improve Russia’s overall state, Russia’s reactions were to be expected. However, if one looks at the position of the US regarding their position, it is clear that Russia’s sincerity is questionable especially now that the conflict continues to ravage the region. Russia also remains as a threat to the US’ plans for the region, but action cannot be done immediately without making people turn its heads against the Americans. Regardless of the intentions of both nations in the region, in the end it will be Ukraine and its people who would be experiencing the brunt of these nations and suffer without a fight.
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