Crisis in and around Ukraine

Ukrainian soldier at a checkpoint near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, Ukraine, 19.02.2015; Source: dpa-picturealliance

The crisis in and around Ukraine is both expression and provisional culmination of growing geopolitical rivalry in the post-Soviet space between the European Union and Russia. Its effects are felt across Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and have led to further polarisation between Russia on the one side and the European Union, NATO and the United States on the other. Ultimately the events in Ukraine have led to the deepest rift between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. The conflict also affects other areas of international politics, with unpredictable consequences for the European and international order.

Ukraine finds itself in a precarious situation, not only because its territorial integrity and sovereignty have been violated. The country is politically, economically and socially fragile. The war in Donbas paralyses the political system and exacerbates a pre-existing backlog of reforms.

With its annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its deep involvement in the war in Donbas, Russia has gone far beyond its previous policy of preserving influence in the post-Soviet space. Russia’s actions reflect a strategic foreign policy realignment, which aims to firmly establish Russia as an international power to be reckoned with, while at home the Kremlin is boosting nationalistic propaganda to shore up its power base. This is also intended to compensate the country’s economic weakness, which has the potential to be domestically destabilising in the medium term.

This dossier covers the various dimensions of the crisis. It supplies insights into internal and external developments affecting the two most important actors, Russia and Ukraine, tracing the repercussions of the crisis within the region and its impact on European and international security. Each section contains the most relevant current publications by SWP authors, while "Further reading" lists selected literature by external authors and internet links to documents concerning EU sanctions, other dossiers on the Ukraine crisis, and chronologies of the events.

Introductory texts translated by Meredith Dale

SWP Comments

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