A Squeezed Country: Ukraine between Europe and Eurasia
Prepublication version of a chapter to be published in G. Besier and K. Stoklosa (Eds.), Neighbourhood Perceptions of the Ukraine Crisis: From the Soviet Union Into Eurasia? (Routledge, 2016).
7 Pages Posted: 2 May 2016
Date Written: January 2, 2016
Ukraine’s development since proclamation of independence in 1991 has been driven by a strategy of geopolitical oscillations between two ‘vectors’: the European Union (EU) and Russia. The government that came to power as a result of the Maidan revolution of 2014 followed the western advice to treat the two ‘vectors’ as mutually incompatible. Petro Poroshenko’s pro-European stance following the 2014 ‘Maidan revolution’ has led to decisions that are driving Ukraine away from Russia. Ukraine’s celebrated (and much criticized) multivectorism has finally given way to a one-sided orientation on the West. However, economic downturn and higher inflation, coupled with the European Union’s refusal to entertain Ukraine’s EU membership bid, have raised doubts about the usefulness of alienating Russia for the purpose of closer European Union integration. Until the violent ouster of President Yanukovych, Ukraine still had some space for tactical manoeuvring to benefit from the development of trade relations with Russia and the EU simultaneously. Now this possibility has been foreclosed for the foreseeable future. There has been no good reason for such a turn of events beyond geopolitical, Cold War reasoning of the West that has historically viewed Russia as an enemy. One particular specimen of the Cold War guard that has preserved this Russophobic attitude intact since the last days of World War II is Ukrainian diaspora in the West. The chapter examines the causes behind the collapse of Ukraine’s multivectorism and the transformation of what could be mutually compatible projects of the European and Eurasian regional integration into a contestation for regional predominance, with Ukraine becoming a victim in a tug-of-war between Russia and the West.
Keywords: Ukraine, foreign policy, Europe, Russia, Eurasia, Maidan revolution
JEL Classification: F02, F15, F42, H56, H59, O52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation