An Analysis of the Russian-Ukrainian War on the Relationship Between Russia and Its Nato Allies
Background of the Study
Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, tensions between the two countries (Ukraine and Russia) have been obvious (Orest,2009). Since then, Ukraine has remained one of Russia’s most powerful satellite republics, influenced by Russian politicians, oligarchs, and corporations (Orest,2009). After independence, the Ukrainian government exhibited a high level of corrupt practices hence, representing the interests of its citizens poorly (Ilko,2018). The Orange Revolution in Kyiv (2004-2005) protested Russian meddling in Ukraine’s constitutionally independent politics and signaled the country’s determination to institutionalize democracy (Brian,2020). Despite this, Ukrainian society remains ethnically, religiously, and linguistically split, with certain parts, such as the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, firmly identifying as Russian (Orest,2009). In 2014, Russian military participation in Crimea sparked an international confrontation between the two countries (Rowland, 2014). Investigating the prospective conflict resolutions will be guided by a study of these societal divides and the diverse interests of domestic players in Ukraine and Russia. More, so, the interests of external international players such as the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations highlight the difficulties in settling the issue as a result of Vladimir Putin’s uncompromising neo-imperial foreign policy (Hromadske, 2019). Because of Ukraine’s strategically important geopolitical location and the worsening of human rights on Ukrainian territory, it will be claimed that the Russo-Ukrainian war demands third-party intervention and international action (Peter, 2021).
Ukraine is a very new country. However, after decades of the split between Poland and Muscovy, as well as Soviet administration, it obtained independence in 1991. It is split by ethnicity, with a majority of Ukrainians and a minority of Russians, language (Russian and Ukrainian), and religion (or divisions between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate) (Olzacka, 2017). In addition, the Ukrainian sense of identity is still forming as a result of these long-standing splits, exacerbating the dilemma (Orest, 2009). The most recent official census in Ukraine was in 2001, hence the data on Ukraine’s demographics is very old. It does, however, provide an approximation that is required to comprehend this struggle. According to statistics from 2001, there were 77.8% Ukrainians and 17.3% Russians (Central Intelligence Agency, 2001). Also, 67.5 percent of Ukrainians spoke Ukrainian as their first language, whereas 29.6 percent spoke Russian (Central Intelligence Agency, 2001). “Ukraine has been an area of rising contrasts and tensions, partially inherited from tough historical processes, and partly formed throughout the post-Cold War period,” according to Lakomy (2021), It’s turned into a nation riven by competing interests and long-standing divides.” Several challenges have arisen as a result of Ukraine’s reliance on the Soviet Union and, more recently, the Russian Federation, complicating relations between Russia and Ukraine (Yuriy, 2020). While the Russian Empire controlled practically all of Ukraine, there was one significant entity that had a significant impact on the ongoing fighting in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas of which Novorossiya (“New Russia”) was that entity (Yuriy, 2020). The historical territory of Novorossiya stretches from Odesa through Donetsk and north to Dnepropetrovsk. Since then, Russia’s sense of identity has grown in these sectors (Orest, 2009). Therefore, it led to Russian assertions that the historical territory should be under their administration. Ukraine’s lengthy reliance on the Soviet Union and Russia exacerbated ethnic and linguistic disparities, impeding the creation of a strong feeling of national identity among Ukrainians (Orest, 2009). Nevertheless, even after the legal declaration of independence, holding the status of a post-Soviet satellite state exacerbated the competing views on whether Ukraine should lean more towards the West (the European Union) or the East (Russia) (the Russian Federation). Nonetheless, many Ukrainians, particularly after the country’s independence in 1991, wanted to forge their sense of Ukrainian identity, free of Polish and Russian influences in the west and east. Proponents of an independent Ukraine as stated by (Orest, 2009) rose an alarm on the Russian efforts to strengthen their grip on the Ukrainian government on many occasions. Such was the situation in 2004 when the Orange Revolution in Ukraine erupted as a consequence of rigged presidential elections (Karatnycky, 2015). Because of Russia’s autocratic and oligarchical domination, Ukrainians have been deprived of the means to meet their necessities, including food, healthcare, and safety, for years (Karatnycky, 2015). The election of a pro-Russian candidate, Victor Yanukovych, prompted supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-European candidate, to stage a series of rallies in Kyiv’s Independence Square and other major cities. It was evident that the Ukrainians had had enough of being reliant on Russia (Gerard, 2020). The European Union’s mediation mission, headed by former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, was effective in providing grounds for resolving the disagreement inside Ukraine (Gerard, 2020). However, as Zwolski (2018) points out, the Russians saw it as a Polish effort to separate itself from Russia by removing Russia’s influence from Ukraine. The controversy was settled by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, which declared that the elections were rigged and consequently invalidated the results of the Central Election Commission. Yushchenko won the repeated elections and was elected president to reduce Russian influence in Ukraine and end oligarchical influences on the government and its policies (Gerard, 2020). Despite the Ukrainians’ high aspirations, Yushchenko failed to achieve his stated objectives, and Ukraine remained under Russian rule and oligarchical influence over a corrupt government (Gerard, 2020). The European Union, which had doubts about Ukrainian European ambitions, was interested in the Polish effort and attempts to bind Ukraine closer to Western Europe, or maybe to break off Russo-Ukrainian links (Zwolski, 2018). Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland and Carl Bildt of Sweden launched the Eastern Partnership project in 2008, which was aimed at bringing Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Belarus closer to the European Union. Despite significant objections, the European Commission (EC) agreed to adopt the plan (Zwolski, 2018). It was made possible by the growing threat exhibited during Russia’s military intervention in Georgia in 2008, the election of a more sympathetic to Eastern issues, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the realization by Western European countries that they needed Eastern European support in forming the Mediterranean Union (Zwolski, 2018,). Negotiations between the European Union and Ukraine attempted to construct an Association Agreement that would help Ukraine institutionalize democracy. Everything seemed to be in place for the transaction to be linked, and the discussions were expected to be completed in November 2013 when Ukraine’s growing ties with Western Europe unexpectedly deteriorated, the Ukrainian government chose to concentrate on the Russo-Ukraine collaboration. As a result, the majority of Ukrainians, particularly those in the country’s western regions, were very dissatisfied (Peter, 2021). One of the demands was the re-adoption of the 2004 constitution, which limited the president’s authority, but revolutionaries’ aversion to President Yanukovych led to his resignation. However, Euromaidan was the name given to a series of protests against Yanukovych and his decision to withdraw from the Eastern Partnership in favor of a Russian proposal for a better economic partnership. It has some similarities to the 2004 Orange Revolution, but only to a degree (Peter, 2021). While there were still some expectations for improving the situation in Ukraine following the Orange Revolution, Euromaidan however is seen as the direct cause of the present conflict between Russia and Ukraine (Sperling, 2022). The present war also arose as a result of Putin’s decision to invade Crimea in March 2014 and was subsequently backed by pro-Russian protests in the Donbas region (Sperling, 2022).
Statement of the problem
The conflict between countries has been seen as one of the major issues confronting the effectiveness of international organizations. This conflict comes in diverse forms such as the cold war and violent warfare. This is evident in the recent happenings between Russia and Ukraine which have raised lots of concerns to all actors in international politics. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military attack on Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, 2022, in a terrifying act of violence. This war between the two countries led many western officials to warn about its prospect which of course did nothing to soften the blow (Reliefweb, 2022). To further increase the tension of this war, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine, as well as a thinly disguised threat of nuclear attacks against any foreign force that could come to its help (Sperling, 2022). Residents of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and towns around the nation awoke to the sound of explosions as Russian bombers and missiles struck military and infrastructure targets (Sperling, 2022). The bombing comes after a months-long build-up of up to 200,000 Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s northern, western, and southern borders (Reliefweb, 2022). The presence of ground soldiers in Ukraine suggests that Russia has launched a full-scale invasion rather than just an air campaign intended at overthrowing Ukraine’s government (Reliefweb, 2022). The human cost might be enormous. This shows that Moscow has been preparing for this newest phase of the battle since at least spring 2021 (Reliefweb, 2022). Frustrated with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who came to office in 2019 on a platform of peace but has failed to execute the Minsk accords on Russia’s terms, Moscow placed what seemed to be the beginnings of an invading force near Ukraine’s border (Brian, 2020). It then withdrew a large number of soldiers, but infrastructure remained in place. In the fall of 2021, a second build-up started, this time with more troops and deployments on additional fronts, including Belarus in the north and Crimea in the south (Kriesberg, 2021). The deployments sparked a diplomatic frenzy aimed at preventing conflict. Western governments launched a two-pronged diplomatic campaign, stating that any new aggression in Ukraine would be met with harsh economic sanctions and a build-up of NATO forces near Russia’s borders and that if Russian forces pulled back, Western governments would be willing to negotiate new limits on activities, exercises, and deployments in Europe (Kriesberg, 2021). Moscow responded with its demands, stating that the West was “hysterically” inflating the situation (Kriesberg, 2021). She wanted NATO and the US to sign binding treaties promising not to expand the alliance any further, especially to former Soviet countries; to withdraw all military forces from countries that were already members of NATO when the Soviet Union fell apart; and to avoid intermediate-range missile and nuclear weapon deployments in Europe (Kriesberg, 2021). Against this background, the researcher will investigate the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on Russia’s NATO partners.
Objectives of the study
The general objective of the study is the Russian-Ukrainian war on the relationship between Russia and its NATO allies. Specifically, the study will work with the following objective:
To examine if the supposed intention of Ukraine to join NATO is the reason for the Russian war on Ukraine.
To evaluate the impact of the war on Russia’s relationship with its NATO allies.
To investigate the possible influence or support of NATO to the Ukraine side on Russia NATO membership.
The following hypothesis has been formulated for the study:
HO: The possible influence or support of NATO to the Ukraine side on Russia will not affect its NATO membership.
HA: The possible influence or support of NATO to the Ukraine side on Russia will affect its NATO membership.
Significance of the study
This study will examine the Russian-Ukrainian war on the relationship between Russia and its NATO allies. Hence the study will be significant to the following:
Government: this study will be significant to the Nigerian government as it will learn one or two things from the Russian – Ukrainian war and also try to boost and grow its economy in other to be recognized and have a vantage position in the international political sphere.
Academia: the study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature on the Russian- Ukrainian war.
Scope of the study
This study will examine if the supposed intention of Ukraine to join NATO is the reason for the Russian war on Ukraine. The study will also evaluate the impact of the war on Russia’s relationship with its NATO allies. Lastly, the study will investigate the possible influence or support of NATO to the Ukraine side on Russia NATO membership.
Limitation of the study
This study was constrained by several factors which are as follows:
Just like any other research, ranging from unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study to inability to get data.
Financial constraint was faced by the researcher, in getting relevant materials and in printing and collating questionnaires.
Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between the writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work makes it uneasy for the researcher.
Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data. There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is historical research and the study will adopt the descriptive method of data collection. This will involve the collection of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.
Organization of the study
The study consisted of five chapters. Chapter one comprised a background of the Russian – Ukrainian war and a general introduction to the work. It included a statement of the problem of the study, highlighted the objectives of the study, the scope within which the research was conducted is also highlighted. An outline of how the work is organized is also detailed in chapter one. Chapter two of the study reviewed the intention of Ukraine to join NATO. Chapter three evaluates the impact of the war on Russia’s relationship with its NATO allies. Chapter four discusses the possible influence or support of NATO to the Ukraine side on Russia’s NATO membership and chapter five deals with the summary of the major findings, recommendations, and conclusion to the study.
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