Analysis of The War in Ukraine

Article 1: On Ukraine, President Putin and Russia Face a Choice

This article is an address given by John Kerry which was delivered on the 14 April 2014 at the State Department in Washington. He outlines the state of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. His states that Russia is the aggressor and had blatantly violated an agreement reached in Geneva brokered by the US and the EU (Kerry 215). He reiterated that Russia would bear the economic consequences that would destroy its economy if it did not desist from supporting the destabilizing elements fighting Ukraine. This is of importance coming from the US which is the global military and economic superpower which can exert pressure on Russia. This article compares with articles two and four which postulate the use of sanctions instead of a military conflict.

Article 2: Even Smarter Sanctions: How to Fight in the Era of Economic Warfare

This article states that the most effective weapon used against Russia is the economic sanctions that have forced it to rethink its military actions in Ukraine. It did not proceed with the plans to conquer a wider land area of Ukraine or even overthrow the government in Kiev. While showing the sanctions cost the Russian economy nine percent of its GDP, sanctions are often unplanned and are reactionary (Fishman 105). Using sanctions by the US is important since it does not have to engage militarily in every conflict but has an alternative mechanism that can still result in the same outcome of resolving the problem. It compares with the articles which focus on the use of sanctions but contrasts with article 6 and seven which give the military lessons learned and the possible reasons for Russia’s involvement.

Article 3. The Revival of the Russian Military: How Moscow Reloaded

The author of this article presents a different reason as to why Russia got engaged in the Ukraine conflict in the Donbas region and the annexation of Crimea. By supporting the pro-Russian rebels who wanted to separate from Ukraine, Russia was making a military comeback as a military power. Having lost the prestige and power after the breakup of the USSR in 1991, the Russian military had been in decline for a number of years (Trenin 23). When Putin came to power, he embarked on the strategy of modernizing and strengthening the Russian military. This is important since it managed to instill fear in some of its close neighbors who had shown interest in joining the NATO coalition. The article compares with article seven which gives the possible reasons for the Russian involvement in Crimea.

Article 4. Understanding the Contest between the EU and Russia in Their Shared Neighborhood

The author posits that the EU advocated for economic sanctions instead of military intervention in Ukraine when Russia annexed Crimea. While the US was pushing for a military involvement, the EU was wary that such a move would put it at the highest risk if Russia widened its military offensive. Being geographic neighbors, the EU would suffer the worst in terms of collateral damage. The weak coercive power of the EU is shown when it turned the request by Kiev for a European peacekeeping mission to monitor the Minsk agreement. Bechev (340) asserts that the importance of the Ukraine invasion was to counterbalance the growing geographical border of the EU which Russia countered by launching the Eurasian Economic Union. This is important in showing the weakness of the NATO coalition of which most EU nations are members. It compares with the articles which focus on the use of sanctions to rein in Russia.

Article 5. How the MH17 Disaster turned a conflict global

This article postulates that the Kremlin lost moral authority when Flight MH17 was brought down in rebel-held territory that it controlled. Using Russian military technology to shoot down the Malaysian airplane, Russia was seen as the aggressor in the Ukraine conflict (Patrikarakos 15). This incident helped to strengthen the international resolve to punish Russia using sanctions. This incident is important since Russia had engaged in a war of disinformation accusing Ukraine of having shot down the airplane. This compares with views by the articles which show that sanctions were the preferred means of containing the military intervention by Russia in Ukraine. It contrasts with the same articles on the basis that the international outrage was morally based and not on geopolitical interests of the US and EU.

Article 6. Seven lessons from the war in Ukraine

Antal (4) asserts that there are seven lessons that the Western nations and NATO could learn from the war in Ukraine. He posits that this was a classic example of Russia’s ability to execute the Nee Generation Warfare. It is based on the upgraded kinetic assets, tactic, strategy, use of drones, social media, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare. Russia, in essence, is showing off its modern approach to any potential conflict with the US and NATO. This is important in shaking off the image that its military is weak based on obsolete hardware and cold-war era tactics. In turn, NATO was forced to rethink its strategy in Central Eastern Europe where NATO member nations live in close proximity to Russia. This contrast with all the other articles since it presents the war from a military perspective.

Article 7. Why Putin Took Crimea

Treisman gives three possible reasons as to why Russia annexed Crimea. The first reason could be to create a buffer zone against NATO expansion by preventing Ukraine from joining this alliance. It also secured its military presence in Sevastopol (Treisman 47). The second reason is that Russia intends to recapture all the territories it controlled under the USSR block. The last reason could have been that it was an impulsive reaction to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. This is important in putting into perspective the actual reasons for the war. It contrasts with all the other articles which present the punitive measures against Russia during the conflict.

My Take

My position is pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia. Russia is clearly the aggressor which seems to have been waiting for an opportune moment to show its new military power. The ouster of Yanukovych was the perfect opportunity to invade and annex Crimea. It used the pretext of protecting the Russian speaking populations within Crimea. It lost the moral authority of this justification by arming the rebels with sophisticated weapons that brought down Flight M17. Not only did it claim land from Ukraine but instilled fear in the neighboring countries which wished to join the NATO block. The Russian involvement was therefore evil, pre-planned and has the potential to be repeated in the former territories which it controlled and which have significant Russian speaking populations.

Works Cited

Antal, John. "Seven Lessons from the War in the Ukraine." Military Technology, vol. 41, no. 7/8, July 2017, pp. 4-5.

Bechev, Dimitar. "Understanding the Contest between the EU and Russia in Their Shared Neighborhood."  Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 62, no. 6, Nov/Dec2015, pp. 340-349.

Fishman, Edward. "Even Smarter Sanctions."  Foreign Affairs, vol. 96, no. 6, Nov/Dec2017, pp. 102-110.

Kerry, John. "On Ukraine, President Putin and Russia Face a Choice." Vital Speeches of the Day, vol. 80, no. 6, June 2014, pp. 215-217.

Patrikarakos, David. "How the MH17 Disaster Turned a Conflict Global." New Statesman, vol. 143, no. 5220, 25 July 2014, pp. 15-16.

Samokhvalov, Vsevolod. "Ukraine between Russia and the European Union: Triangle Revisited." Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 67, no. 9, Nov. 2015, pp. 1371-1393.  doi:10.1080/09668136.2015.1088513.

Treisman, Daniel. "Why Putin Took Crimea." Foreign Affairs, vol. 95, no. 3, May/Jun2016, pp. 47-54.

Trenin, Dmitri. "The Revival of the Russian Military." Foreign Affairs, vol. 95, no. 3, May/Jun2016, pp. 23-29.

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