The Ukrainian Crisis and Beyond in the Restructuring of Russian Relations with the West

Russia and the European Security Order: Impact and Implications of the Ukraine Crisis

John Berryman


In February 2014, Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych was violently ousted from power in Kyiv. Alarmed by what was seen in Moscow to be an ‘extra-constitutional coup’, managed in some degree by Washington, and concerned that the new authorities might apply for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and terminate Russia’s basing arrangements in Sevastopol, in a pre-emptive move Russia annexed Crimea. Military and intelligence support were then supplied by Russia to the armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine where more than 70 percent of the residents considered the new government in Kyiv to be illegal (IISS 2015a: 320; Berryman 2015). For defying the values and norms of a rules-based international order, not least the 1975 Helsinki Accords which declared Europe’s borders to be ‘inviolable’, Russia was excluded from the G8, personalized sanctions were imposed on the inner circle of politicians and officials close to Putin, and meetings of the NATO- Russia Council (NRC) were suspended (Allison 2014; Lukyanov 2014).

J. Berryman

Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© The Author(s) 2017

R.E. Kanet (ed.), The Russian Challenge to the European Security Environment, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50775-0_8

Reflecting on the recent record of Western interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Russian commentators concluded that by its intervention in Ukraine the Kremlin had opted to ‘deprive the West of the monopoly over breaching the norms of international law’ (Kortunov 2016: 6).

Apart from triggering these ‘soft power’ responses, the Ukraine crisis re-focused NATO’s attention away from its post-9/11 ‘out of area’ operations back to its earlier ‘hard power’ priorities of deterrence and collective defence in Europe. Russia’s actions have, therefore, brought a renewed sense of purpose to NATO that had previously been seen to be on a ‘long drift towards irrelevance’ or an ‘ordinary future’ (Stephens 2010; Kaplan 2012; Lo 2015: 195). As NATO has scrambled to provide strategic reassurance to its small member states (and partners) located on or near Russia’s 2,000-km post-Cold War border, stretching down from the North Cape to the Black Sea, the past two years have seen the most serious escalation of tension between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. As in earlier periods of the fluctuating relations between the Russian Federation and the West, a variety of Western and Russian commentators have detected the chill of a possible ‘New Cold War’ (Arbatov 2007; Lucas 2014; Legvold 2016; Kalb 2016).

To gauge the prospects for such a development, Russia’s response to NATO’s controversial 20-year-long post-Cold War eastward enlargement, the largest campaign of expansion in its history, must first be traced, focusing on the rival military postures and military exercises of Russia and NATO in Europe, before the impact of the Ukraine crisis on NATO’s relations with Russia and the broader ‘hard power’ implications of the crisis for European security are examined. (The ‘soft power’ contributions of the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to the European security environment are treated in Chapter 4 and Chapter 10.)

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