Starting from 1991, when the old Soviet empire lost its official influence on the great amount of countries, the struggle for these territories began. Russia’s identity, which is based on the idea of its great power over the other nations, pushes the government of the country to use its impact on post-Soviet countries. It became especially evident with the government headed by Vladimir Putin, who uses political, economic, and military means to halt the inclusion of Georgia, Abkhazia, Belorus, Ukraine and other countries into the European Union. The Ukrainian crisis suspended global cooperation and increased the tension in Russian-Western relationship.
Ukraine’s resistance to pro-Russian government, that was controlled by Kremlin, resulted in the 2014 revolution. Pro-Russian government of Yanukovych refused to sign the agreement of the association with the EU and caused the mass protests among the youth of the country (Deyermond, 2014). However, with Russia’s help, the government kept its anti-western policy. At the same time, the United States made the efforts to turn the political tide in Ukraine away from Russia’s influence. Nuland expressed US support of “Euromaidan,” Ukrainian pro-European movement that started at the end of 2013 (Ahmed, 2014). In January 2013, “Euromaidan” gathered thousands of people in major cities of the state and called for the change of government in its policy. After mass shootings of peaceful protesters the government’s security forces in February 2014, the President and other pro-Russian politics left Ukraine. As a result, a pro-western government was established.
Russia responded to Ukraine’s rebellion by annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its support of rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Russia immediately proclaimed new Ukrainian authorities to be rebels and rejected their legacy. “Anti–Maidan” meetings, organized with Russia’s support, occurred in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The tension between the representatives of pro-Western and pro-Russian movements increased. The new authority had been weak yet and could not predict the escalation of the conflicts. Russian president used the occasion and sent troops to Crimea, proclaiming his actions to be needed measures to protect Russian people there. The organization of fictitious referendum became the final point in Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Moreover, Russia started to support so-called “rebels” in the Eastern Ukraine in their fight for independence. Putin wanted to play the same scenario as with Crimea there. However, by this time, new Ukrainian government received recognition by western countries and their support (Parris, 2014). It does not allow Putin to use army forces openly; however, there are many facts of the illegal presence of the Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.
Russian interests in Ukraine can be explained by the fact that Russian government does not want Western political, economic, and military power on their border. The Russians believe in that the United States and Europe want to destroy their country. Putin’s desire to make post-Soviet countries virtual vassals of Moscow led to the changed ideology of Russians (Parris, 2014). As a result, he government’s propaganda made Russians view foreign nations as their enemies. Ukraine admission to NATO in 2008 changed the attitude of the Russian government to the country. They considered it “a serious challenge to Russia’s position in the region and, from the perspective of the Russian government to Russian state security” (Posen, 2014). With US support of the democratic development of Ukraine, Ukraine was becoming more independent from Russia (Ahmed, 2014). Besides, Ukraine is considered to be an important ally for Moscow (Walker, 2014). The annexation of Crimea and the military conflicts in the Eastern Ukraine are Russia’s planned actions to ruin Ukraine’s independence (Deyermond, 2014). Moscow made NATO membership more remote for Ukraine and gave “Russia effective control over a large area of the Black Sea” that is “a strategically vital area” (Walker, 2014). Moreover, the Ukraine crisis and the role of Russia in it have disrupted US initiatives that aim at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The actions of the Russian government are mostly addressed to declare the importance of the state on world politics arena. However, these efforts led to sanctions applied to Russia by the United States and the EU, which negatively affect the country’s economy.