Ukraine and Russia: Peace, War and the Future

Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and enjoyed relative peace for more than two decades until February 2014. “Vladimir Putin’s gamble of using military force in Crimea and Donbas has changed the relationship drastically,” writes Volodymyr Dubovyk, associate professor of international relations and director of the Center for International Studies at Odessa Mechnikov National University. “Ukraine has achieved levels of consolidation previously unseen.” Still, the conflict drags into its fifth year, and time could erode opposition. Absence of pro-Russian parties and some progress with reforms sustain public opinion, and Ukrainians generally recognize that the conflict reduces resources for infrastructure, social services and job creation. In opting for hard power rather than soft power, Russia lost Ukraine’s moderate pro-Russian segment. Russia’s image as a benevolent neighbor may have been irreparably shattered, and that will influence future relations between the two nations. – YaleGlobal