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Ukraine Crisis Final

US Foreign
Russia and the Ukraine Crisis
Ted Gertner, Charles Watson, Courtney Misich, Amelia Peterson
The Ukraine Crisis and the United States
The Ukraine crisis began in November 2013 after the president of Ukraine,...
Ukraine crisis, the options available for the United States, and how the US should deal with the
crisis and Russia...
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Ukraine Crisis Final

  1. 1. US Foreign Policy Russia and the Ukraine Crisis Ted Gertner, Charles Watson, Courtney Misich, Amelia Peterson
  2. 2. Russia1 The Ukraine Crisis and the United States The Ukraine crisis began in November 2013 after the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych and the government abandoned a trade deal with the European Union for a stronger relationship with Russia. This resulted with demonstrations in Kiev to protest the government’s decision to move away from the European Union and closer to Russia. As the international community watched, in February clashes between protestors and police were the bloodiest since the beginning of the crisis. Additionally President Yanukovych disappeared, allowing for the protestors to seize control of government buildings. The trigger for outside involvement is a result of the Ukrainian parliament coting to remove the president from power and banning Russian as the second official language which creates upheaval in the Eastern regions of the country. In the Crimean capital, pro-Russian insurgents take over government buildings and the Crimean parliament votes to join Russia through referendum. As Crimea is annexed to Russia, the European Union and United States condemn the actions by Russia, who admits their military helped to gain control of Crimea before the referendum. The United States views Russia’s actions as aggressive and as reports of Russian troops helping separatists in Eastern Ukraine continue, the United States explores its options to continue the buffer between the East and West while maintaining Ukraine’s sovereign territory. American interests in Ukraine begin with its independence from the Soviet Union. This relationship has developed into one of Ukraine buffering Russia and the United States’ provides financial aid and security. However the complicated nature of the crisis forces the US to evaluate its investment into Ukraine and how to negotiate with Russia while maintaining American authority in the international community. This proposal will engage with the causes of the
  3. 3. Russia2 Ukraine crisis, the options available for the United States, and how the US should deal with the crisis and Russia. A Historical Union between Russia and Ukraine By Courtney Misich Russian and Ukrainian identities are mixed throughout the past, from claiming the Kievan Rus as common ancestors to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The conflict that results from the close connections between the two countries influences international policies and actions. Ukraine has been dominated by Russia since the seventeenth century with greater control over the country during the twentieth century by the Soviet Union. The crisis forces the confrontation of Ukraine’s deep national issues and its long history of suffering that created the crisis between the East and West. While the United States is a recent actor in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia but US involvement in the conflict could provide greater cause for Russian influence in the region or would allow for Ukraine to remain sovereign and whole. America’s stake in Ukraine focuses on buffering Russia and preventing the precedent allowing Russia to begin reclaiming territory. The United States has agreements with Ukraine promising to help maintain its sovereignty, which involves the US in the Ukraine crisis. However the origins of the crisis are old and stem from their historical ties of Russia and Ukraine and the divide of the East and West for influence in the region. Ukraine’s Relationship with Russia and the United States Ukraine was a republic in the Soviet Union, while the republic technically retained certain rights, but ethnic Russians ran it and repressed its national identity. During the Soviet period, Ukraine was “fundamentally transformed… experiencing extensive industrialization, urbanization, and wider social change” (Kubicek 100). The transformation of Ukraine created
  4. 4. Russia3 many problems within the country such as famine, loss of culture and language, and purges. The loss of life in Ukraine from these problems were great, an example is the Holodomor or the Great Famine of 1932-1933. The Soviet government “forcibly seized grain and other food from Ukrainian peasant households…for political and ideological reasons” (Kubieck 102). The Ukrainian collective memory is of the Soviet government starved the Ukrainian people into submission and rationalized it through collectivization and industrialization; regions in Southern Russia effected were heavily populated by ethnic Ukrainians. Then during the 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were deported because Stalin “wished to treat Western Ukrainians in the same manner as the Tatars” (Kubieck 112). Ukraine’s eastern and western territories were united after the Second World War; the West was ruled by Poland before the war. Eastern Ukraine was industrialized by the Soviet Union and continues to have close ties with Russia. Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Khrushchev. The region has a majority of ethnic Russians since Stalin expelled the Tatars. This split within Ukraine of the West, East, and Crimea is a legacy from the Soviet days. As Paul Kubicek states “identity- Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian, or some sort of mix- remained split and increasingly regionalized, a phenomenon that would manifest itself both during the push for Ukrainian independence and in post-Soviet Ukraine” (115). Ukraine continues to deal with these problems through state-building, democratization, and creating a coherent national identity. Post-Soviet Ukraine needed to partake in intensive state building to create a modern nation state out of a Soviet republic with internal divisions. Ukraine’s first president, Leonid Kravchuk, worked on building strong state institutions. The Ukrainian military was a problematic institution since it was the former Soviet military. This created tensions with Russia and the West with Ukraine’s refusal to hand over assets of “nearly 200 nuclear armed missiles
  5. 5. Russia4 stationed on Ukrainian territory and how to divide the Black Sea Fleet, which was based in Crimea” (Kubicek 142). Ukraine’s desire to maintain its freedom of action can be seen in this refusal, especially with the attempts to separate Ukraine and Russia because of Russian politicians calling for Ukraine to stay with Russia. However this state building during the 1990s was not completely successful with faith in the institutions lost and power centralized within the presidency that grew with President Leonid Kuchma. During his presidency, Ukraine suffered from crony capitalism and more authoritarianism with tighter controls on the media and less competitive elections. Another state building problem was the internal divisions in Ukraine, mainly the separatist movement within Crimea which gained some autonomy in the early 1990s. Crimea’s autonomy was taken away in 1995, when “the Ukrainian Parliament voted to suspend Crimea’s constitution, abolish the post of the Crimean president, and placed the Crimean government under the control of the national government” (Kubicek 153). However the separatist movement only adds to the East-West divide in Ukraine; this is seen in the voting where the East favors the old Soviet system and the West democracy. This division is seen in Ukrainian foreign policy where the state tries to balance its connections to Russia and the West. Many Russian politicians still view Ukraine as part of their country. This pushed Ukraine closer to the West to balance out Russian influence but not until 1994 did Ukraine begin to develop that relationship, which was difficult due to the political situation of Ukraine. The closer relationship with the West was a result of the Budapest Memorandum, which President Kuchma arranged, that recognized Ukraine’s sovereign borders by the West and Russia in exchange for Ukraine giving up nuclear weapons and allowing for the Black Sea Fleet to be divided. Russia used its resources to maintain tighter control over Ukraine, who benefited from Ukraine’s bad
  6. 6. Russia5 relations with Western countries. However in 2004, the political dynamics of Ukraine were rattled with the Orange Revolution a result of “Kuchmagate”; President Kuchma’s abuses of power were revealed through audiotapes. The Orange Revolution developed from the presidential elections after Kuchmagate, which pitted Kuchma’s chosen successor, Viktor Yanukovych, against reformist, Viktor Yushchenko. After a dirty campaign by Yanukovych, in which Yushchenko was poisoned and election fraud, protests resulted from the announcement of Yanukovych as president. The protests are known as the Orange Revolution and were supported by the West. As the elites of Ukraine realized that protests and international attention were not dissipating, a new election was held and after heavy monitoring, Yushchenko was elected president. The Orange Revolution leaders were divided once in power. Yulia Tymoshenko and Yushchenko disagreed on many issues which allowed Yanukovych to return to power as prime minister in 2006. Yanukovych became president in 2010 and led into the Ukrainian crisis in 2013 due to prosecution of former ministers and abandoning a trade agreement with the EU. Russia’s Historical Investment in Ukraine Russia’s involvement with Ukraine is complex; however the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 added greater conflict to this situation. Chechnya declared independence also in 1991, and Russia used their military to maintain what is viewed as its territory. This stems from Russia’s historic internal conflict of being an Eastern or Western country that makes the country suspicious of the West, this sentiment disappeared after 1991 but returned as a result of US actions and policies. After the collapse, Russia resumed the responsibilities of the Soviet Union in international institutions, the lifted the command economy created oligarchs and hyper- inflation within Russia. The mass privatization of Russia was based on democratizing the country according to American economists and International Monetary Fund , however
  7. 7. Russia6 privatization created the oligarchs allowed for them to make “their money by exploiting loopholes in the laws, by fraud and stealing, and by exploiting political connections” (Duncan 279). Many countries provided money and support for Yeltsin as seen through his ministers and the amount of support Yeltsin had. Then in 1993, President Boris Yeltsin silenced his critics in Parliament by shelling the building, this begins the consolidation of presidential power in Russia as seen by the referendum passed in December 1993 that gave power presidential powers. Yeltsin gains further prestige by gaining entry into the G-8 due to his friendship with President Clinton, who supported him without much criticism during the Chechen War in 1994. However this relationship between the United States and Russia began to sour with the campaign in Yugoslavia, marking the beginning of differences in the United States and Russia’s foreign policies. This affects the US-Russian relationship in 1998, when a Chechen militia entered Russian territory; however the international community was shocked by the brutality of the Russian’s campaign against the Chechens. The United States didn’t openly criticize the war and Russia’s actions but the troubled relationship between the US and Russia was seen by the lack of US support. When Yeltsin left office in 1999, Russia was stable with a growing economy, and he appointed the hero of the second Chechen war Vladimir Putin as his replacement. In 2000, Putin wins the presidential election and begins to consolidate presidential power and demonstrate Russia’s prestige. Putin began by ending independent media and dismissing Yeltsin-era oligarchs such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil oligarch, from politics. His separation from Yeltsin adapts the Russian government to allow for greater control by the president and “the phrase ‘managed democracy began to be refer euphemistically to Putin’s growing authoritarianism” (Duncan 282). The managed democracy or as other have called his government “a dual state,” Putin has goals for his consolidation such as “to enhance state
  8. 8. Russia7 capacity…by reducing the power of autonomous power clusters…the elimination of alternative source of rule enforcement”(Sakwa 193). The dual state or managed democracy provides for Russia a political consensus, which is lacking in Ukraine, and demonstrates how actions are used to preserve that consensus and power. Putin used government agencies to further consolidate Russia. This is shown by the lack of opposition parties in Russia; Richard Sakwa argues that “reconstruction of the party system was the destruction of ‘party substitutes,’ notably regional agglomerations. The regime ensured that the remaining parties offered no threat to its claimed managerial prerogatives, including even the putative ‘party of power,’ United Russia” (193). This permits for the president to act with great autonomy that allows Putin to act with greater authority because of his political consensus. Further consolidation of power is seen in 2004, when Putin used a hostage situation by Chechens to increase state security powers and later making regional governors into appointees. Putin further consolidated his control in 2006 with a law that allows for NGOs’ activities to be monitored and the organizations suspended, if they pose a threat to national security. The consolidation is Russia protecting its security by eliminating internal threats such as the media and external like NGOs. Georgia confronted this idea of a strong Russia in 2006, when they held four Russian army officers on suspicions of spying. This was already a tense time because of issues over Georgia’s ties with NATO and splinter regions. NATO causes problems with Russia since its purpose is to contain or oppose Russia. In response, Russia imposed sanctions and expelled Georgians from Russia. As Russia’s relationships with the West deteriorated, Putin’s control on the country is solidified even with allegations of tampering with elections causing Russia’s democracy to be diminished. Putin’s presidency ended in 2008 and Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s ally, was elected to replace him. As Putin became prime minister and dealt with Georgia
  9. 9. Russia8 attempting to retake South Ossetia, which leads to the independent states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This action creates more strife between the United States and Russia, which the US views as Russia of attempting to annex the states as would happen in Crimea. Additionally in 2008, Parliament votes to extend the next president’s term to six years. Russia’s relationship with the America warmed during Obama’s first term in office with the United States helping Russia join the World Trade Organization and increased talks of nuclear reduction. After Putin’s re-election to president in 2012, there were major protests against the legality of the elections and there was a greater repression of dissent, such as with NGOs. The silencing of dissent continued with the restructuring of new agencies, arrests of bloggers and musicians, and greater restrictions of NGOs. Russia’s relationship with the West deteriorated further when Ukrainian President Yanukovych fled to Russia because of protests in Ukraine over EU connections and repression of officials. Russia used the Ukrainian protests and revolution to annex Crimea, mostly ethnically Russian, in a referendum by Crimea. This reinforced the idea of uniting all ethnic Russians, “this can only be done by enlarging Russia’s borders, leading to conflict between Russia and its neighbors” (Duncan 289). This provided Putin a reason to annex Crimea due to the large number of ethnic Russians and the political turmoil in the Ukrainian state. Throughout 2014, Russia has been accused of supplying Eastern Ukrainian rebels with weaponry or that the rebels in Eastern Ukraine are actually Russian troops because of their uniforms and weaponry. In July, the EU and the United States increased the sanctions on Russia, which is affecting their economy greatly. The situation is constantly changing with more restrictions in Russia, Ukrainian separatists gaining more territory, and the Russian economy weakening.
  10. 10. Russia9 After the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Eastern Ukrainian regions began to have pro-Russia or separatists movements that are believed to be supported by Russia. Several regions, like Donetsk and Luhansk, have had referendums and have declared themselves independent but the United States fears continued annexation by Russia because of their troops on the border. During May 2014, Ukraine elects a new president, Petro Poroshenko, and begins to work towards peace in Ukraine. However the context changed when a Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down in Eastern Ukraine creating further conflicts between Russia and the West. This allows the West to place harsher sanctions on Russia as a form of pressure, especially with accusations of Russian troops fighting with the separatists. Then on September fifth, Minsk 1 is signed as a cease-fire but only lasts four days. A second cease-fire is agreed to on February 12, named Minsk 2 with weapons withdrawals but several issues not settled. The US needs to focus on integrating the separatists into Ukraine and rebuilding Ukraine’s sovereignty without threatening Russia by invading its sphere of influence. The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has a long history based on centuries of Russian domination. The collapse of the Soviet Union created uncertainty and strained relations between these two countries. The West’s role in the relationship is just as complex but Russia views Western interference as a threat and creates problems for US policymakers, which was only reinforced after 1991 for Russians. As the crisis continues, the West and United States need to understand Russia’s disillusionment with Western ideologies and Ukrainian divisions. Economic Background The economies of both Russia and Ukraine have been anything but stable since the conflict in Ukraine. Russia was experiencing an economic downturn when the conflict in Crimea started in March 2014, but since then, the situation has become worse. A perfect storm
  11. 11. Russia10 of economic problems have hit Russia and the financial crisis is a troubling sign. The crisis, in fact, extends beyond the Russian border into Ukraine. Both Russia’s and Ukraine’s respective currencies are performing poorly against the dollar and the euro (IMF). Especially since both economies are unstable, it is important to understand the reasoning for both recessions before any policy can be enacted. Before the United States government can choose a policy and to address the problem of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the government needs to understand the economic issues within each country to prevent any further problems for the United States within the region. This section will look at both economies individually and what has caused their respective crises. Since 2014, Russia’s economy has found itself in a troubling position. Looking at current figures demonstrates the problem the Kremlin faces. Inflation rates are rising, the ruble is depreciating in value, investment rates reached a 15-year high in January, and the GDP has stopped growing (EIU). All of these problems have stemmed from two main economics issues that Russia has faced since 2014: the drop in crude oil prices and the economic sanctions against Russia (Economist, Dec 17, 2014). In 2014, crude oil prices dropped by about 40%. By the end of 2014, the price had gone from over $100 per barrel in the summer to around $55 by the end of the year (NASDAQ). The prices have continued to fall 2015. As of May, the price has reached $61.98 per barrel, a shocking decrease in value (NASDAQ). Crude oil is an important component of the Russian economy since over half of their export revenue comes from the sale of oil and gas (EIA). Since this revenue has decreased significantly over a short period of time, Russia finds itself in a recession. The worry for Russia is that they cannot simply fix the oil price problem by selling a higher quantity since they are producing near or at their limit. The Russian economy has spent a
  12. 12. Russia11 large amount of effort on developing their oil and gas industry while neglecting other sectors which leaves the economy dependent on high oil and gas prices. This is due to the fact that exports account for about 30% of the GDP and oil and gas are the main export from Russia by a large margin (EIU). The current outlook is grim as well since the prices have not shown signs of rising to the level that Russia would need for a balanced budget (Economist, Nov 22, 2014). The other factor contributing the financial crisis in Russia is the economic sanctions enacted against Russia by the United States and the European Union. These sanctions were enacted in response to the Russian involvement in Ukraine. The sanctions targeted certain individuals initially followed by Russian banks and firms. Both types of sanctions have hurt Russia, but in different ways. The individuals who face sanctions have been given travel bans and their assets abroad have been frozen (U.S. State Department). Many of these individuals are wealthy allies of Mr Putin who live in lavish mansions throughout Europe. However, they have had to leave the EU since the sanctions have forced them out. This has the ability to cause tension in the hierarchy of the Kremlin (Economist, Jan 31, 2014). The other form of sanctions has had the largest effect on the Russian economy. The sanctions against businesses and banks have prevented these entities from conducting in bond and stock market activity abroad (Mohammed & Trott). The main issue is that they cannot purchase or sell foreign securities. Since they cannot sell securities, the companies and banks cannot roll over their existing debt. In other words, they have to pay off their matured debt with the existing investment obligation. To do so, however, they must exchange their rubles for foreign currencies. Since the banks and companies needed to get rid of their rubles, the demand for the ruble lowered. Thus, the ruble depreciated in value, which is one of the key components of the current financial crisis (Albanese & Edwards, 2014).
  13. 13. Russia12 The Russian people have started to lose faith in the ruble. It has reached the point where Russians have spent their rubles on less liquid, but safer goods (Kramer). When a currency depreciates in the way that the ruble has, there are a few likely outcomes. Usually, exports in the country are cheaper for foreign consumers. However, that is holding price constant, which is unlikely given the sanctions. The Russian firms would be unlikely to keep prices constant when the currency drops in value by as much as the ruble has since inflation is inevitable. Conversely, imports, which include mainly manufactured goods, become more expensive when a currency depreciates in value. This has been observable in Russia as many foreign companies have suspended business in Russia due to low demand. The ramifications of the collapse of the ruble are yet to be completely seen. The cost of interest payments for Russian firms has increased since they must pay foreign investors in foreign currencies. Although the ruble has shown signs of slight recovery lately, the crisis is far from over and could get worse if the problem is not solved (EIU). With a depreciated currency comes higher inflation rates. Currently, the inflation rate in Russia is 16.9% meaning the prices of goods in Russia has increased on average by 16.9% (World Bank). However, certain food prices rose by 50% near the end of 2014 (Fabrichnaya & Winning). While inflation at such levels is never a good thing, it is hard to know what the impact will be on the country. Russian companies face difficulties as there will be market inefficiencies and their ability to operate with long-term goals is hindered. Since inflation comes with the volatility of the ruble, it does not aid the confidence in the ruble. This means that investment and saving will decrease as people will continue to lose faith in the ruble. Although the Kremlin faces a crisis currently, the Russian government can make alterations to aid recovery (Economist, Dec 17, 2014).
  14. 14. Russia13 The Russian government had to show their own faith in the ruble since no one else would. Hence, investment rates increased dramatically to potentially help stabilize the ruble. Currently, the interest rate stands at 12.5%, but rose as high as 17% in December 2014 (IMF). However, the hike in the interest rate did not succeed in halting the fall of the ruble. Since higher interest rates have not solved any economic issues for Russia, there are very few things the Kremlin can do with monetary policy to fix the issue. However, it is important to note that when the Kremlin announced they would not be implementing capital controls, the ruble appreciated in value slightly (Birnbaum, 2014). Overall, the crisis highlights the poor economic policies instituted under Mr Putin. He has stated correctly that the price of oil will go up as it always does when the price drops. This will eventually happen and Russia will experience a recovery. However, Russia does not seem to address the issues at the root of the problem. During the 1998 crisis, Russia failed to end its reliance on oil and gas prices. If Russia had done so, the current situation would not be as bad. The necessary element needed in Russia is a renewed manufacturing sector to help alleviate the pressure on the energy sector. Mr Putin’s comments show that restructuring will not come to Russia meaning their economy seems to be reliant on oil and gas for the near future (Economist, Dec 17, 2014). Currently, the trade between Russia and the West has declined dramatically, but they do play an important role in global trade in general. The top Russian export is crude oil, which accounts for 39% of its total exports. The second largest is refined petroleum meaning that over half of Russian exports are natural energy resources. Most of Russian exports tend to be raw resources some of which Russia is the top exporter in the world. On the other hand, Russian imports consist of mainly manufactured goods, such as cars, medicine, computers, and
  15. 15. Russia14 communication equipment. With the financial crisis and the sanctions, Russian trade has lowered significantly since the cost of importing goods has risen due to the collapse of the ruble. The leading destination for Russian exports in 2014 was the Netherlands, however, they are unlikely to be the top destination in 2015 given the sanctions imposed by the EU. The Netherlands accounted for 13.8% of Russian exports in 2014 while China had the second highest percentage of Russian exports at 7.6%. Ukraine receives 3.5% of Russian exports. As for importers, 29% came from China and Germany combined in 2014. This shows that the EU plays a key role in the Russian economy, however, China’s presence demonstrates that Russia does not solely rely on the EU. America is the 6th largest importer to Russia accounting for 4.1% of Russian imports. Ukraine is the third largest importer with 5.5% (WTO). From the trade data, it is clear that Ukraine plays a role in Russian trade policy. Russia is Ukraine’s biggest trade partner by a large margin. Russian exports to Ukraine account for 31% of Ukrainian imports. For exporting, Ukraine sends 24% of their total exports to Russia. Ukrainian exports tend to be unfinished goods with their main export being semi-finished iron. Their main imports are gas and petroleum most of which is imported from Russia. This adds another layer of complexity to the Russia-Ukraine conflict since Ukraine is reliant on Russia for trade (WTO). Economically, Mr Putin has a stranglehold on Ukraine as Russia could cause blackouts throughout the country since Ukraine is dependent on Russia. Ukraine’s reliance on Russia has reached the point where Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has admitted that they lack complete independence from Russia. This is mainly due to the energy issue between the countries. Although Ukraine was the main energy producer in the Soviet Union before the eventual collapse, the big energy firms have failed to capitalize since Ukraine became
  16. 16. Russia15 independent in 1991. Now Russia has become the Eastern European giant in energy and this is a problem for Ukraine since Ukraine imports about 80% of their gas and most of it comes from Russia. The energy corporations in Ukraine have a tendency towards corruption leading to poor decision-making. The state-funded gas company, Naftogaz, has cost the Ukrainian government much money, including $6.4 million in 2014 to keep the company from going under (Economist, Mar 5, 2014). Obviously, the crisis in Eastern Ukraine has not helped their economic frailties. The goal for the government is to lessen Russia’s economic influence over them, however, key areas of Ukraine’s territory are now in Russian control. Eastern Ukraine, especially the area near Donetsk, is rich with coal (WTO). However, this is now under rebel control and creates more reliance on the Russian government. To make matters worse, the domestic economic situation is not good in Ukraine. The hryvnia, the currency of Ukraine, has depreciated in value to almost 1/3 of its value at the start of 2014 (IMF). Unlike Russia, the Ukrainian central bank has instated capital controls that have not succeeded in slowing the downfall of the hryvnia (Economist, Feb 28, 2015). Inflation is at 45.8% currently and there is no indication that the inflation rate will fall anytime soon. As another attempt to salvage the economy, interest rates are at 30% (IMF). Ukraine is facing a recession currently that cannot be ignored. The debt-to-GDP ratio is 41.03%. If Ukraine were to have to make repayments soon, it is likely that they would have to default. The IMF has pledge to help, promising $40 billion over the course of four years. This is a nice gesture, but it is an empty promise at the moment. The IMF does not have that type of money. The rest of the money will need to be donated. The American government has pledged $2 billion already while the EU has pledged $2.1 billion. However, this plan, if implemented, will only soften the economic blow to Ukraine as it is estimated that this year alone, Ukraine
  17. 17. Russia16 would need $15 billion to close the financial gap (IMF). Clearly, there needs to be a more long term solution for Ukraine as their economy is in shambles. Ukraine’s economic issues stem from a history of poor policy going back to the country’s independence in the 1990s. Over that time, Ukraine has become 20% poorer. Some of that is backlash from the ill-timed privatization of state-run industries that created a small group of wealthy oligarchs who received most of the money within the industries. However, by the turn of the century, the economy had stabilized, but there were no reforms. For example, the state- funded gas company, Naftogaz, still receives government subsidies. The subsidies allow Naftogaz to offer extremely cheap prices relative to foreign prices. The issue is that the subsidies are given even though Naftogaz is inefficient with their production since Ukraine has the 26th largest amount of natural gas reserves worldwide, but still imports most of their gas. The IMF offered a bailout plan to Ukraine in 2011 with the condition that they must end the subsidies and raise the level of competition. Ukraine refused to reform their policy, even though their debt rose and has now reached $126 billion. With monetary policy, the government has been reactionary. The central bank responds to any depreciation of the hryvnia to keep it stable in relation to the dollar. However, the hryvnia has been falling since 2011 and the central bank’s reserves have dropped by almost $30 billion in that time. Supporting the currency is not exactly the issue, but wasting over half of the central bank’s reserves when the money could have been used for reformation was poor policy. Unfortunately, now the government cannot make reforms. When reforms are made, the government usually takes a hit with lower tax revenue. Ukraine can simply not afford restructuring at the current moment. Beyond this, the biggest problem for the Ukrainian economy is corruption. This is a political issue as well, but obviously there are economic impacts. For example, the Ukrainian
  18. 18. Russia17 shadow economy is one of the largest in the world with around 50% of the GDP. The main issue economically for Ukraine with respect to corruption is that they cannot collect their taxes. Businesses will pay employees with cash while some operate underground which leaves the government short on revenue. To prevent further expansion by Russia, the United States government will need to look at options concerning the Ukrainian economy as their situation makes them much more vulnerable to invasion since they cannot fund a war. (Economist, Zinets, Transparency International). Russian Geography Russia is the largest nation in the world spanning 17,098,242 sq km with 11 different time zones (CIA, 2015; National Geographic, Russia). This land and water areas contains a vast array of natural resources, the most important of which is oil. Russia has the tenth largest population, containing a wide diversity of ethnicities, religions, and languages. This land, resources, and peoples makeup Russia’s geography and provide much information on Russia’s political and economic global positions. Russia’s physical geography consists of a land mass nearly two times that of the US, nearly every kind of climate, and an enviable amount of natural resources. Its size and resources greatly affect its interactions with other nations. While Russia’s physical geography is very diverse, most of the landscape consists of plains. The largest are the European Plain and the Central Yakut Plain (Embassy of Russia Federation in New Zealand). The European Plain, otherwise known as the Volga River Plain, is located on the western side of Russia, beginning at the Ural Mountain Range and continuing to the western borders of Western Europe. This specific land area is considered the European side of Russia, while anything past the Ural
  19. 19. Russia18 Mountains is Asian Russia (Embassy of Russian Federation). The Central Yakut Plain begins at the Mid-Siberian Plateau, and is located between two of Russia’s many rivers, the Yenisier and the Lena (Embassy). Central and southern Russia also consist of a mix of terrains ranging from marshes and fertile land areas to steppes and coniferous forests. Many of these forests can be found in the Siberian taiga (The Geography of Russia). These coniferous forests merge with mixed forests expanding east, and come to consist of 40% of Russia’s land, providing a large amount of timber resources (Embassy). These forests are located south of the Siberian tundra, which can be found in the far north of Russia, and because of its freezing temperatures there is very little growth there and few people as well (The Geography of Russia). Another aspect of Russian physical geography are the mountain ranges and rivers. Russia has several mountain ranges mainly located along the southern borders (CIA). There are more than 100,00 rivers in Russia, most of which empty into the Arctic Ocean (World Atlas; Embassy). The Russian climates are just as varied as the Russian geography. The only climate type Russia does not contain is the tropical rainforest (Etty, Russia's Climate and Geography). Most of Russia has a continental climate, which is not particularly helpful with Russia’s agriculture due to the short harvest periods (Embassy). These climates greatly affect Russia’s agricultural resources and what imports are necessary for the Russian people. Russia’s size and climate has provided some advantages for the nation, most importantly massive natural resources reserves. While Russia may not be ideal for agriculture, the land comes with many other benefits in the form of these natural resources: timber, oil, natural gas, coal, minerals, and other earth elements (CIA). Russia’s energy reserves are what causes the most interest for political and economic relationships from other nations, especially the US. Russia produces 20% of the world’s natural gas, making it the second largest producer of dry
  20. 20. Russia19 natural gas and third largest producer of liquid fossil fuels (Energy Information Association; Etty, Russia’s Climate and Geography). For Ukraine particularly, Russia provides at least half of Ukraine’s gas, which has created difficulties for Ukraine during the Ukraine crises (Ahmed, Ukraine Crisis Is About Great Power Oil, Gas Pipeline Rivalry). Nearly 35% of the EU’s oil comes from Russia, as well (Kennedy, Ukraine Crisis Highlights Europe's Dependence on Russian Energy). The main areas of fuel reserves are Western Siberia, the Ural Mountains, and East Siberia. Western Siberia produces two-thirds of Russia’s liquid fuel, and is being improved to increase efficiency and production levels (EIA). The Ural Mountains was at one-point the largest oil producing reserve before Western Siberia. It produces 22% of Russia’s liquid fuel, and is likely to continue production until 2030. East Siberia oil is dependent on the Eastern Siberia- Pacific Ocean Pipeline, which allowed for an easier passage of the Eastern Siberian oil. These areas are the largest and most important fuel reserves in Russia, and account for the majority the oil being discussed and regulated in Russian geopolitics and petro-politics (EIA). Since Russia provides such a large amount of fuel to the rest of the world, they gain a certain type of power in the global community. The Russian government uses the vast amount of fuel resources to strengthen their global power, more specifically Putin’s regime (AEI). In relation to the US, Russia comes in behind in all oil production while sending 80% of its crude oil to the Americas, but oil is such an important commodity and provides such political power that the US cannot ignore Russia’s resources (Aron, The Political Economy of Russian Oil and Gas; EIA). At the moment, Russian oi centered relations with the U.S. seem to be strained, because it appears that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, the two largest fuel producers in the world, may have conspired to create a price war with Russia over the price of oil in order to gain the upperhand in petro-politics (Nazemroaya, Oil Prices and Energy Wars: The US Empire of "Frack" versus
  21. 21. Russia20 Russia). While the intense influx of oil from Saudi Arabia may hurt the U.S. shale industry, the U.S. is more interested in pushing Russia out of the market in order to pressure Russia’s geopolitical actions in terms of the Iranian nuclear program and the crises in Ukraine. It also benefits Saudi Arabia in the capturing of the Chinese oil consumption, because Russia has taken some of Saudi Arabia’s business in China (Spegele). This theory that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are working together to bring down Russian oil is not necessarily cohesive with the idea that each nation is solely looking out for its own best interests, though. It is certain though that the U.S. has condemned Russia's crises with Ukraine, which has lead to a less stable economy for Russia, especially with the sanctions in place by the US (Spegele). The U.S. has a booming fracking production industry, and is currently scaling back on its purchases of fossil fuels from other nations (Spegele). This is leading many oil producing countries to look to China for possible export partnerships. With China’s growing economy and large demand for oil, it is the next best nation to export to and expand within that market. Russia’s friendship with China has lead to China’s increased importation of Russian oil, a misfortune for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) looking to export to China. The Russian government felt it necessary to strengthen ties with China, especially economic ties, because of the West’s condemnation of the Ukraine situation and the sanctions involved (Spegele). Russia’s size and climate provides several disadvantages for the nation, including lack of agriculture and difficulties governing the population. The lack of agriculture is such a prevalent problem due mainly to the small amounts of geographical areas that have soil and climate that can provide a sustainable growth period. The marshlands don’t sustain crops, and the Siberian tundra does not allow for human life let alone profitable agriculture (Etty). Most of Russia does
  22. 22. Russia21 not have soil that is suited for crop growth (Embassy). The best places for agricultural production can be found in the steppe climatic zone in southeastern European Russia and the Western Siberian Plain. These steppe locations have black-soil, otherwise known as black earth (Etty). This black soil is the most nutritious type of soil for agriculture, and can yield much healthy vegetation. While Russia does have these black soil areas, the harvest season is much shorter than Western Europe, spanning only six months rather than nine, and because of this short harvest period, all farming had to be done intensely and purposefully. These agricultural struggles have historically caused many problems with food shortages, lack of motivation by farmers, and governmental issues (Etty). Historically, the trials that Russians faced to produce enough food both for their families and the market affected their outlook on farming and on Russia as a whole. The lack of fertile land outside of the black-soil areas and the droughts that plagued Russia during the planting season created an obstacle for Russian farmers. They couldn’t grow enough crops, and began to stop putting in the effort (Etty). Instead of continuing this cycle of farming alone with little yield, farmers chose to join with other farming families and farm the land together. While this method did not assist with the agricultural problems, it did inspire Stalin’s collectivization program in the 1930’s which led Russia to become an industrialized nation. This industrialization had been long needed in Russia, but the harsh geography had suppressed it because of the lack of infrastructure and great distances and climates needed to be crossed or built within. The eventual industrialization of Russia came only after the USSR forced it through much toil from the Russians. Russia’s size and, at times formidable, terrain has occasionally created difficulties for the Russian government to control the citizens. That same size and terrain, though, forced the
  23. 23. Russia22 Russian government to drive the citizens into the industrial era and possibly causing those citizens to rely on and obey the government (Etty). While Russia is the world’s largest country, it only contains the world’s tenth largest population, with 142,470,272 people (CIA). The population was in decline for nearly two decades since the end of the USSR, but has recently been showing some improvement (World Population Review, 2014). The Russian population is one of the few populations with a negative growth rate, and while it has been improving, it is fairly unstable. The 2010 Russian census reads that Russia has lost over two million citizens since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Of Russia’s current 142 million, 80% consider themselves to be Russian (Embassy). The remaining population consists of over 190 different ethnicities, the largest being Tatars (3.8%), Ukrainians (3%), Chuvash (1.2%), Bashkir (0.9%), Byelorussians (0.8%), and Moldavians (0.7%). This diversity combined with the size of Russia has caused problems for the government to control the citizens (Etty). The majority of the population can be found in the west in two areas within Russia, the Central and the Volga regions, and 73% of the population is located in urban areas (Embassy; WPR). Russia’s largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, are both found in this European half of Russia. The eastern side of Russia has less people because of the difficult terrain and climate in the west (WPR). Crimea is peninsula in the Black Sea located in southern Ukraine. It is adjacent to southwestern Russia, and once was the location of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol. It belongs to Ukraine, but the Russians consider it a part of Russia, because of its mainly Russian population and its Russian history (Kinstler, 11 Essential Questions About Crimea, Answered). Crimea has been a part of Ukraine since 1954, but was given to Ukraine based on the idea that they would stay a part of the Soviet Union. When Ukraine separated from the USSR in 1992 and
  24. 24. Russia23 became an independent nation, it brought Crimea with it. By this point the Russians had become the the majority of the Crimean population (Keys, Complex Crimea: The History behind the Relationship between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea). Russia had seized Crimea in the late 1700’s, and the Russian and the Ukrainian people began to immigrate into Crimea displacing the Tatars, Crimea’s native people. The final stage of the displacement of the Tatars was in 1944 when Stalin moved the Tartars to Central Asia, where tens of thousands died, and Russians took their place in Crimea. Since the majority of Crimea is of Russian heritage and is essentially Russian in politics, its allegiances are to Russia rather than to Ukraine (Keys, Complex Crimea: The History behind the Relationship between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea). Russia has little access to the sea, and their naval base in Crimea is their only warm water base and provides access to more water (Jalabi, Yuhas, Ukraine Crisis: Why Russia Sees Crimea as Its Naval Stronghold). This naval base necessity combined with the history between Russia and Crimea has led the Russian government to position themselves against the Ukrainian government. The Russian geography creates a multitude of difficulties for the citizen, the government, and foreign relations, particularly those with the E.U., the U.S., and Ukraine . The difficult terrains and climates cause a lack of population density in many areas, and creates a lack of agricultural and food for the citizens. The limited soil and harvest times are so poor that farming is an arduous task. The Russian land does provide an abundance of natural resources, though those come with their own problems. The oil production, 20% of the world’s oil is produced in Russia, and the distribution system in Russia is largely governed by politics, and currently Russia's friendship with China and troubles with the US over the Ukraine crisis is forcing Russia
  25. 25. Russia24 to take a larger interest in exporting oil to China. This exportation, which has caused an 8% decrease in Saudi oil sent to China, brings anger from the other oil producing nations trying to capitalize on China’s energy need (Nazemroaya). The Russian government’s decision to take Crimea back has led to political condemnation by the West, and is having adverse affects on its economy and geopolitics, particularly through sanctions. All of these economic and political problems that the Russians need solved are being directly affected by the geographical attributes of the Russian nation. Political Problems The political environment that makes up Russia has changed drastically over the centuries and as time goes on, frequent and drastic changes in policies are becoming more common and even accepted. Since 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been a developing democratic federation that has been determined to reach level ground with the world’s top nations as a powerful competitor. Multiple accounts of military conflict and territorial annexation including the invasion of Georgia, Chechnya, Ukraine, specifically Crimea, have disrupted the global image of Russia as a renewed spirit, bringing fear back to those who remember the Russian led USSR. As recent relations between Russian and Western allied countries have worsened, the Eurasian country has been struggling to carry forth with its more aggressive foreign policies due to falling oil prices, sanctions. Specifically, these sanctions including the inability to borrow from international banks, meaning Russia’s surprisingly low debt of 10% against GDP means nothing towards its credit (Boghani, 2015). President Putin is being touted as the most powerful and dangerous man in the world and unless Russia begins yet another major evolution following his political retirement or softened conscience, heightened
  26. 26. Russia25 tensions may lead to reactive actions from global powers stepping up and forcing Russia down (Forbes, 2015). In order to gain a larger perspective, it is vital to first recap on President Putin’s move into power. After his initial term as Acting President beginning in 1999, official elections were held in 2000 and Vladimir Putin was elected as the second President of the Russian Federation. In attempting to make a strong image for himself as the embodiment of the Russian people, Putin has taken part in a collection of global displays of Russia’s strength and ability to rewrite history. Since the 19th century the republic known as Chechnya has been fighting for sovereign independence from Russia. In 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union Chechen leaders declared independence from Russia. Yeltsin reacted to the declaration by sending a small troop of soldiers to Chechnya, however a nonviolent interaction with Chechen rebels led to the Russian troops returning to Moscow and leaving Chechnya autonomous for several years. In 1994 Yeltsin sent a mission of troops into Chechnya to officially reunite the region with the North, but Chechen rebels organized their defenses and maintained a strong resistance as casualties grew by the tens of thousands until 1996 when the two sides agreed to a peace agreement. The peace agreement signed between the Russia and Chechnya gave certain levels of sovereignty to the area while maintaining Chechnya as a nominally Russian region (Chechnya, 2014). After the agreement was signed, years went by and Russia never invested in the rebuilding of Chechnya, leaving it to barely survive in ruins. While the autonomous region did manage to organize enough to hold elections, the chosen president Aslan Maskhadov was unable to rein in the violent street gangs and overwhelming crime organizations that were taking over (Chechnya, 2014).
  27. 27. Russia26 In 1999 Putin had been chosen as Prime Minister and Chechnya was back in the news. Dagestan, a fellow southern republic within Russia, pleaded for Chechen help and the help of all Muslims to create an Islamic state and fight a holy war against oppressive Russia. Putin was more decisive than his predecessor and quickly disrupted all forms of this holy war, ending the conflict in under a month. Later in the year several terrorist acts were committed in Russian cities involving bombings and other killings of hundreds of Russians. Placing full responsibility on Chechnya, Putin re-invaded the previously autonomous region and destroyed all locations thought to be home to rebel forces. Much of Putin’s policies in dealing with the southern regions were heavily criticized by the U.S. and the general West, claiming Putin had committed major acts of human right’s violations, war crimes, and that Russia’s invasion of Chechnya was more centralized on oil assets than rebel control. Minor conflicts still continue to occur between Russian forces and the local Chechens, although Russia labels the conflict as having ended in victory in the early 2000s. (Chechnya, 2014) Shortly after his election in 2000, Putin’s global alliance was tested in wake of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Putin quickly made it clear that Russia was an American ally and offered full support in stomping out terrorism. This allied stance was quickly pushed aside when the U.S. announced its plans to invade Iraq, although the U.S. ended its public statements regarding Russia’s handling of Chechnya as the U.S. itself took on a role of searching to eliminate terrorist groups (Trudolyubov, 2015). Putin’s labeling of Chechen rebels as Islamic terrorist removed the conflicts from western media. In 2003 a new Chechen constitution was jointly written with heavy influence by Russia, 2005 held new elections ending in the “United Russia” party winning the presidency, and by 2009 Moscow declared Chechnya no longer a threat, pulling out all forces from the region. Still, in the last half decade suicide bombings have
  28. 28. Russia27 continued in the region and the natives are far from ever calling themselves Russians (Chechnya, 2014). Chechnya is not the only example of post USSR rebellion from Russian control. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Russia had been fighting to reconnect with the southern country of Georgia. In 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared its independence from Russia, which had been attempting to hold on to Georgia even after the collapse. Georgia relied on Russia for cheap energy and was weak from high unemployment rates and a falling GDP. While fighting to solidify its independence, the autonomous regions of Abkhazia in the northwest and South Ossetia in the north also declared their independence, but from Georgia. While Georgia maintained armed conflict with these two breakaway regions Russia moved in to support the small oblasts (Georgia, 2014). Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were populated with large groups of pro-Russians and claimed to be interested in rejoining with the Motherland. Russia, desperate for Abkhazia’s access to the entire northern coast of the Black Sea heavily funded the conflicts and eventually invaded Georgia in 2008. By late 2014 and early 2015, Russia signed border agreements with both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, claiming the act was “mild” compared to annexation, which Russia also claims would be perfectly legitimate if decided upon (Dempsey, 2015). During Russia’s conflict with Georgia, Ukraine was a major player in connection with the West in attempting to reduce Russia’s interest and ability to invade Georgia. In 1991 after the fall of the USSR, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet was divided and remains half in the control of Ukraine and half in the control of Russia. Russia’s portion of the fleet has remained at the Sevastopol port on the southwest corner of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. During 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko demanded Russia keep Ukraine
  29. 29. Russia28 uninvolved by not engaging through the use of the Black Sea Fleet (Crimea, 2015) . In April of 2008, before the invasion, President Bush had recommended the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as a way of incorporating Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. This addition would allow continued security of US oil from non Middle East sources by use of the pipeline that runs west through both countries. The recommendation was criticized by both France and Germany due to the likelihood of Russia seeing MAP as an aggressive gesture. Russia did in fact take offense to the eastern expansion of NATO to “Russia’s border” (Evans, 2008) and began the preparation process to invade Georgia. In 2005 Ukrainian Streets were filling with protesters as what was known as the Orange Revolution took full swing. Protesters accused President Yanukovych of organizing a fraudulent election and western Ukrainians would not stand for it. The country had been run by a group of eastern Ukrainian, pro-Russian elites that had been caught falsifying votes, using fading ink in western Ukrainian voter booths, and employing coercion in order to secure Yanukovych's presidency (Karpyak, 2013). After the successful re election process was final, Yushchenko won the presidency and would lead the country with Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minister. The two championed Ukrainian development through economic growth and dramatically improved trade relations with Georgia and the West. Ukraine was positioning to join the West through NATO or EU until things changed in 2010 (Karatnysky, 2005). After three years of corruption and increasing unemployment in Ukraine, another revolution began to grow around Yanukovych, although this time is came by storm. In 2013, Ukraine was overtaken by the Maidan Revolution striving to join Ukraine with Europe and the West as a whole. President Yanukovych was pressured to sign a treaty of association with the European Union (EU). In a fit towards Russia for high oil and gas prices, Yanukovych nearly
  30. 30. Russia29 signed it the treaty, but was delayed. Before the signing of the agreement, Russia dropped the price of oil and gas as Yanukovych hoped, as well as offered Ukraine $15 billion in low interest credit. After this deal, Ukraine stood no chance of making an agreement with the EU as Yanukovych rejected the deal and began talks with Putin in regards to signing an association agreement with the Russian Federation (Karpyak, 2013). After having previously ousted Yanukovych in the Orange Revolution, his corrupt behavior was far from being tolerated. The Maidan Revolution involved the rapid overthrow of the Yanukovych regime and left Ukraine in a power vacuum. With Ukraine weakened and Russia recovering as many regions deemed “Russian” as possible, Crimea claimed full attention. In 2014 Russian troops took over the Crimean peninsula for the claimed purpose of protecting ethnic Russians. The peninsula has a majority Russian population as well as the Russian Black Sea Fleet maintained in Sevastopol. After several months Russia rushed a referendum to decide whether Crimea should be reunited with Russia, and unsurprisingly the majority Russian population voted in favor of the concept, completing the annexation (Crimea, 2015). Western Ukraine, western Europe, and the United States made continuous claims that these acts were illegal and require consequential punishment. President Obama reacted with the use of sanctions on Russian businesses in the US, and heavily pressured western European states follow suit. Germany joined the US in sanctioning Russia, even though the two economies are heavily entwined (Ratnam, 2015). As Russia’s economy struggles with continued sanctions from around the globe, President Putin uses the situation as a tactic to convince the Russian people that the US and the rest of the West is to blame for their poor economy and unemployment (US, 2015). Without improved policy plans from the US, it appears
  31. 31. Russia30 as if Russia will never have a true incentive to change. United States Policy Options Sanctions Options One route available to the United States in addressing Russian expansionism is by using sanctions. As mentioned before, sanctions have been used against the Russians by the United States government and the European Union as a punitive measure in reaction to the annexation of Crimea and conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This section will analyze the benefits of the continuation of these sanctions as well as the costs of doing so. Within the section, there are two options presented with a slight deviation on one that creates a third option. The two main options are, namely, the continuation of the economic sanctions, or the termination of the sanctions. The following section will focus on the benefits first, followed by the negatives concerning all sets of sanctions. First, the direct economic goal behind the sanctions has failed. The Russian economy has taken a massive hit recently and it is clear that the sanctions have played a part in the economic breakdown. Notably however, the sanctions have been more effective due to the already struggling economy of Russia. The drop in oil prices has most likely played a larger role in the harsh circumstances that Russia finds itself in, but effective sanctions target weaknesses in the Russian economy. The sanctions target key Russian individuals who tend to be wealthy with many foreign assets. The first set of sanctions targeted these Russian individuals and effectively prevented them from operating within the global economy. The targeting of the banks has created capital flight within the Russian financial system making the economy weaker since having investments there has become risky. Hence, the sanctions have been effective from an economic standpoint (Solman).
  32. 32. Russia31 The sanctions could potentially undermine Putin’s power. Currently, Russia accepts the narrative of the West as the cause of the economic issues in Russia, however, in the long-term, the blame could be shifted towards Putin. Given the current situation, this would be beneficial to United States interest. People may not accept Putin’s semi-authoritarian regime when they lose all sense of economic hope. The sanctions could affect the support of the powers that run Russia in the long-term (Aris 4-5). The sanctions have shown that the United States will not tolerate an act of aggressive expansionism. This could be beneficial towards the US in the future as other countries may see that an act of aggression similar to the situation of Eastern Ukraine will come with an international cost. In a sense, it is important that the United States and any U.S. allies show the entire world what is deemed acceptable or not by Western standards. The sanctions sent the message that the American government could dissuade expansionism in the future (Dreyer & Popescu 3). Building on the idea of signaling the cost of aggressive expansionism, the United States has already shown Russia that any future attempts at expansion will be costly. It is hard to know how far Putin was willing to go after the annexation of Crimea, but it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe he could target other former-Soviet states, as seen previously in Georgia. The sanctions weakened the economy and therefore, the potential for Russia to seize more land. In other words, the sanctions may have minimized the damage that Russia could cause. There are other areas near the Russian border that could have potentially been taken, but it does not seem likely anymore. The sanctions have acted as a diplomatic and economic way to prevent further chaos in the region. The argument to keep these sanctions is that the United States will
  33. 33. Russia32 still want to prevent any further expansion, so it could be pertinent to keep the sanctions in place (Dreyer & Popescu 3). In summation, the sanctions have had their benefits. The American government has taken non-military action to hurt Russia. The long-term effects of the sanctions are unknown, but they have the potential for being extremely potent in keeping Russia from further aggressive moves. If this is the case, then the sanctions will be a great success. Whether they do eventually cause Russia to pull back or if they undermine the Russian government, the sanctions potentially could solve many large issues beyond Eastern Ukraine. However, the sanctions are not necessarily great since they do come with their costs. The first argument against the sanctions is that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is still ongoing. If the sanctions were meant to be a response to the Russian expansion into Eastern Ukraine, then there has been no visible progress. The sanctions were initially enacted after the annexation of Crimea, but Russia has advanced further into Ukraine since the sanctions came into being. The sanctions may be working as a punishment, but not as a method to prevent the expansionism. However, this argument does not solely argue against the sanctions, but given the economic harm on other countries from the sanctions, it may factor into policy making (Dreyer & Popescu 2-3). As mentioned previously, there has been collateral damage to American allies, such as the European Union. The EU trades more with Russia compared to the United States and the sanctions have cost these countries more than the United States. Russia has also placed sanctions on the EU in retaliation, further hurting their economies (Menon). While the EU has chosen to participate in the sanctions, it may not be as easy for them to continue with the policy in the future. This must be taken into consideration because the EU is an ally of America. Obviously,
  34. 34. Russia33 the sanctions are more effective with EU participation. The U.S. government has taken the initiative with the sanctions so far, but given the fact that Europe is affected more by the sanctions, it may not be in the best interest of America to continue to pressure the EU into participating in the sanctions (Charap & Sucher). The sanctions against Russia have long-term consequences that may not be worth the benefits. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been integrating itself into the global economy. This is observable since they trade with the EU in high volume. However, the sanctions have ended their global status economically as they are now restricted. The issue is that this type of action could isolate Russia from the West to a degree that has not been seen since the Cold War. It is beneficial to the United States to have an integrated Russian economy since they help U.S. allies and it keeps them from turning towards other non-Western partners in the world (Steinbruner). The worry about the isolation of Russia is that the sanctions push them closer to partnering with China. If Russia and China were to initiate trade, the West would be left out (Dreyer & Popescu 3). The United States would be challenged since any current economic dominance that exists could be significantly lessened. Russia is a major power in the world and losing them to another major power would be detrimental to the West. Thus, it is in the interest of the United States to integrate Russia into the global system with the West rather than push them towards alternatives (Saunders). On a domestic level, the Russian economy would still suffer in the long-run from the sanctions, but Russia will recover from the current crisis. The sanctions are not alone in hurting the Russian economy, but rather, it has been the joint pact of low oil prices along with the sanctions. Eventually, the price of oil will rise again and the economic pressure on Russia will
  35. 35. Russia34 slowly diminish. There is not much more that the U.S. or the European Union can do to significantly add more economic pressure on Russia once it begins to stabilize, which had already begun. Hence, the sanctions could have little effect in any peacemaking between the West and Russia in the long-run (Larrabee, Wilson, & Gordon). The sanctions have also not been effective in undermining Russian support of Putin. With the declining economy, Russians could have turned on Putin, which would add more pressure to drop any future plans of expansion. However, the sanctions have worked against the goals of the United States. Before the crisis in Ukraine, Putin’s power was weak due to the economic shortcomings that he faced. However, the annexation of Crimea sparked a nationalistic approval of Putin. His approval ratings rose again when Putin shifted the blame for the economic frailty of Russia on the Western sanctions. Putin has strong support again. Once he was able to blame the financial issues on the West, he had more freedom to continue in Ukraine with domestic support. Therefore, from a domestic standpoint in Russia, the sanctions are not working effectively (Aris 5). Lastly, the sanctions have caused a political strain in the West. The member states of the European Union are not unanimously for the continuation of the sanctions. The goal of the United States should be a peaceful outcome if possible. However, that becomes less achievable without the West united. If the sanctions cause a rift between the United States and the EU, while the sanctions themselves fail to be effective, then the continuation of the sanctions would be counterproductive. Without unity, any sanctions in place will become weak and Russia will feel less international pressure than they do already (Bond, Odendahl, & Rankin 17-23). Therefore, the United States is left with a few options regarding the sanctions on Russia. From the pros and cons listed above, there may seem to be only two options available to the
  36. 36. Russia35 United States: to continue sanctions or drop them. However, there is another option. Based on the benefits and costs above, another option for the United States government is to follow the European Union’s decision on the sanctions. The precedence for this is that they are an ally of America and they have more at stake with respect to the sanctions compared to America. Obviously though, the United States must act in its own interests and that may not be in accordance with the EU. There are three options presented above on how the sanctions against Russia should be handled by the United States government. The course in which the government takes will have a large impact on the development of the crisis in Eastern Ukraine as well as Eastern Europe. It is of the utmost importance that the correct and most optimal decision is made regarding the sanctions since they have the potential to end the conflict or escalate it. Arming Ukraine Benefits While the concept of war is seemingly daunting and unfortunate, the logical aspects of such events can be quite beneficial to achieve particular goals. The US has spent billions of dollars assisting in Ukraine’s recovery from economic and political disaster, however it has become far more apparent that expectations are increasingly pointed at a need for military support (Dettmer, 2014). As Russia continues to covertly harass and attack Ukraine, the US is put in a very critical position. There are many reasons to help Ukraine and plenty of obvious factors that suggest the contrary, however in the end it will most likely require something truly catastrophic before and actual moves are made. The potential for substantial monetary gain for the US has always been an obvious motivator, afterall, a state’s agenda consists of maintaining self interests. In regards to Ukraine, if the US supported their fight against Russia, there would be a dramatic growth in the region for the need of American weapons. As the fighting began, the US could sell weapons to the Ukrainians and any local ally that joined in the fight, all while remaining a relatively uninvolved actor. As the war progressed or even reached resolution, the US again would be able to invest in the recovery of eastern Europe, providing large funds to countries with the likelihood of significant return from interest (Michelson, 2015). As seen post World War Two, many European countries fell deep
  37. 37. Russia36 into debt to the US as a result of American recovery funding (History). As also sprouted post World War Two, the uninitiated involvement of the US in a war would potentially bolster the American superpower image that was created after the last World War and has been fading ever since (Michelson, 2015). As allies with Ukraine, a fundamental issue with the US remaining uninvolved is that Ukraine simply does not have the capacity to defend itself from Russia while the US does have that ability mirroring allied obligation. Ukraine’s poor defense capability is in part due to push by the US. As nuclear countries were becoming more likely at the end of the 20th century, the US convinced Ukraine - the third largest nuclear power in the world - to dismantle its nuclear arsenal while attending the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on nuclear proliferation (Dettmer, 2014). The agreement was that if Ukraine dismantled its nuclear program, the US would be a protector of Ukrainian sovereignty (Council, 1994). Now that Ukrainian sovereignty is finally being tested, the US is becoming increasingly obligated to assist and stay true to its word. In addition to maintaining relations with Ukraine, the US is being pressured from within. US senators from both parties are pushing the White House to arm Ukraine and help end the bullying. By arming Ukraine, the US pleases American lawmakers, keeps US troops home pleasing the US general population, and maintains a nonoccupational position as is often a criticism of American foreign policy (Dettmer, 2014). When considering the weight of a decision, the weight of alternatives are most vital. In the case of the Ukrainian conflict, the alternative to increased military support would be drive for a ceasefire. In September of 2014 there was a ceasefire known as the Minsk Protocol (BBC, 2015). Unfortunately the ceasefire had no effect but was followed up in February of 2015 with another Minsk Protocol, this time urged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Unfortunately the second ceasefires’ dates were prefaced with significant increases in bombings up until the beginning hours of the “peace-time”. While attempting to maintain a nonaggressive perspective inline with ceasefires, the concept of increased radar zones along the battle zones would allow for pinpoint accuracy as to the origin of rocket fire, assisting in maintaining ceasefire accountability (Pifer, 2015). As covert Russian forces continually grow in the region, polls in Russia have shown dramatic disapproval of the idea of Russia sending official troops to Ukraine. If the US increased Ukrainian force, Russia would be forced to transition into overt combat and would quickly lose his national approval (Jamestown, 2015). In addition, overt war is far more expensive than Russia can afford, and this would become a quick way to see Putin’s power disappear. In attempting to out fund Russia, the US would not be alone. Poland, the Baltic states, Canada, and Great Britain have agreed that if the US were to become involved, they would as well, while Britain remains the most tentative. The combined force of these countries would undoubtedly send a strong enough message for Russia to withdraw its thugs and insurgents (Pifer, 2015). Russia has a huge advantage over the US in regards to geographic locations of its troops, if the conflict were to come to direct overt troop movements. However, if the US
  38. 38. Russia37 remained a supplier of weapons, the dozens of US bases in Europe and western Asia would allow the movement of massive armaments. The US does lack any naval power in the area, however in regards to the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, the US would likely not waste time routing a fleet due to the low threat that Russia’s fleet offers. New York University professor Mark Galeotti describes the Russian fleet as old, weak, and even at the mercy of a single-handed Italian navy. Lastly the US has Russia outnumbered in active bombs, aviation fighters, troops, tactics, and alliances (Weber, 2014). If Russia did not immediately ease off of Ukraine, Putin would quickly be chased out of the Kremlin by his own people. Costs By Courtney Misich A report, issued by the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institute and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs at the beginning of February, pressures the Obama administration to arm Ukraine. The proposal states that to deter Russia the United States needs to send defensive weapons to Ukraine with the budget of 1 billion dollars for the next three years. This internal pressure from inside Washington by congressmen and outside could influence the United States to send arms to Ukraine without examining the costs of this action. The main cost of arming Ukraine is the threat of escalation of the conflict with Russia into a war. Escalation is a result of Russia’s insecurity from Ukraine and neighbors leaving Russia’s sphere of influence. Stephen Walt explains this as a spiral model contrasting with others who view Russia’s action within the deterrence model when looking for solutions. Walt’s reasoning is “Putin & Co. are also genuinely worried about America’s efforts to promote ‘regime change’ around the world- including Ukraine- a policy that could eventually threaten their own positions. It is lingering fear, rather than relentless ambition, that underpins Russia’s response to Ukraine” (Walt). This model provides a rational for Russia’s actions and demonstrates that arming Ukraine will only promote escalation with Russia. Additionally the escalation will allow for Russia to openly fight in Eastern Ukraine instead of covertly with greater support from the
  39. 39. Russia38 Russian people, who will view US arms as a threat to their security. For Russians this is enhanced by the sentiment that the United States organized the Maidan coup and supports Ukrainian forces. “Putin [is] talking about rebels fighting a ‘NATO legion’ in the area and the foreign ministry [is] repeatedly speaking about ‘foreign mercenaries’ fighting alongside Ukrainian troops” (Walker "Ukraine: US considers military help for Kiev as separatists plan to mobilize army"). This view of the US may make Russia escalate the situation into a war because of the involvement by the United States in supporting the Ukrainians. Escalation will force the US to follow with more support or even troops on the ground for an already war-weary United States. Additionally by arming Ukraine, the United States will become increasingly involved in Ukraine over a longer period of time. The arms will take time to reach Ukraine which allows for the conflict to escalate causing the United States into enter the conflict, which would be supported by hawkish members of congress. Additionally Ukraine’s mismanagement of its government has led to the extreme deflation of its currency’s and more internal problems that create the demand more American military aid from mismanagement. Loren Thompson writes that “policymakers need to understand just how costly it will be to make Ukraine a viable state capable of defending its own sovereignty. Lethal military assistance will deepen Washington’s involvement, but it won’t fix the larger problem” (Thompson "Arming Ukraine: Dubious Logic, Dangerous Consequences"). The amount of time and money that Ukraine needs would force the United States to be the provider for Ukraine; relations with Russia would further decrease. This stems from the previous aid and loans provided by the international community including the United States, Ukraine has high foreign debt and corrupt institutions that would prevent US arms and time investments. Moreover the United States would have to rebuild the Ukrainian military,
  40. 40. Russia39 due to corruption and incompetence within the Ukrainian institutions providing evidence against arming the Ukrainians. The reforms needed before arming the Ukrainians would have to be throughout the Ukrainian government and cost greatly in time and money for the United States. There is a large lack of understanding by the United States of the situation that shows with a lack of an aftermath plan arming Ukraine. Henry Kissinger stated “I am uneasy about beginning a process of military engagement without knowing where it will lead us and what we are willing to do to sustain it” (Thompson). This viewpoint demonstrates that there is little understanding of region by the United States to account for arming Ukraine especially without another plan in place if arming enhances the crisis or the after effects of it. The report issued by the Atlantic Council and others does not provide another plan or account for deterring Russia such as the other options in this paper. Moreover the United States is ignorant of the state of the Ukrainian army and government that is near collapse which will allow for the weapons to fall into separatist hands. The United States direct involvement through arms would further deteriorate relations with Russia which is valuable for US interests in other regions of the world for example Russia’s influence in the Middle East and with Iran. Additionally arming Ukraine is not in America’s interests based off of US desire for stability in the region. These interests are damaged by the US expecting Russia to abandon its interests immediately without any benefits and under coercion, which no country does. This not only harms relations but threatens escalation due to ignorance. Additionally this correlates with the minimal American interest in Ukraine, the most significant tie is with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which guaranteed Ukraine’s security for disposing of their nuclear weapons. However Ukraine has not been welcomed into NATO
  41. 41. Russia40 because of the known risk of war with Russia, demonstrating the United States’ lack of conviction with Ukraine. Moreover Russia has a greater interest in Ukraine, historically and geographically. David Speedie explains “history- which serves to remind us that the very idea of ‘Rus,’ Russian identity, was born in Kiev, centuries before Moscow’s founding? Ukraine will never be just another country to Russia, or, for that matter, to the 30 percent of those of Russian origin who live in Ukraine. Another, darker symbolic significance lies in the historical fact that both Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia through Ukraine” (Speedie). These deep cultural ties demonstrate Russia’s drive to maintain Ukraine within its’ sphere of influence that contrasts with the West’s greater indifference. Therefore arming Ukraine creates tensions within Russia that will drive escalation and allow for the United States to be drawn into a war with Russia. Important American allies, such as France and Germany, oppose supporting Ukraine through arms and this could severely harm US-European Union and NATO ties. Throughout the crisis, the United States and Europe have been united but the threat of fracturing alliances could change the crisis and other US interests throughout the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkela has stated “Germany will not support Ukraine with guns and weapons. We are putting all our bets on sanctions and doing our best to find a diplomatic solution.” (Walker). The firm stance of the Germans against arms should dissuade many from arming Ukraine as they are a key ally in Europe and are vital to Europe’s relations with Russia. If the American alliances with Europe fail, the repercussions will be seen in relationships with the EU and NATO. Timothy Frye states that if the EU and American alliance fails, “economic sanctions against Russia would end at the earliest possible convenience and Ukraine’s dream of joining the EU would evaporate as some EU members will surely fault it for not accepting a political deal with Russia.” These
  42. 42. Russia41 repercussions will affect US-allies interests from the growing mistrust between the allies and the loss of Western legitimacy. However this has not been the case in negotiating cease-fire between the separatists, Ukraine, and Russia which are led by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany that demonstrates the importance of US reliance on its allies for ending the crisis. The opposing sides have already agreed to two cease-fires in Eastern Ukraine and there are attempts at peace talks with Germany, France, and Russia leading them to prevent the United States arming Ukraine. This evolution of the Minsk 1 provides more details with deadlines for implementation, immediate humanitarian aid, and restores the core principles of the September cease-fire. The cooperation with the cease-fires provides the United States hope of a diplomatic solution without sending arms to Ukraine. Further developments of peace would continue in the mode of Minsk 1 and 2, “a long-delayed process of internal Ukrainian reconciliation and the establishment of fully functional governing institutions that can operate honestly and transparently in the interest of the entire population” (Rojansky). This peace would provide a more stable Ukraine for Russian relations and for US interests in the region. The cease-fires, if upheld, provide the reason for the United States not to supply Ukraine with arms. The costs of the United States supplying arms to Ukraine are too great for its interests and allies. These factors could lead the US into another war that could devastate the country and its relationships with other countries. Furthermore the country is war weary and there is a lack of support at home by the public to support this option. While there are many officials who advocate arming Ukraine, there is a majority that reveals the lack of other options that result from arms and the costs that arms create are greater than the benefits. The US policy for Ukraine needs to move from arms to diplomacy to maintain relations and interests with Europe. The European Union Leading Economic Assistance and the EU as Peacemaker
  43. 43. Russia42 The European Union has played an integral role in diplomacy to bring the crisis with Russia to an end; the United States should acknowledge this and allow for the EU to lead diplomatically and in rebuilding Ukraine. Since the crisis began; the EU, United States, Russia and Ukraine have debated over whether or not Ukraine should have closer relations to Europe or remain within the Russian sphere of influence. However the Europeans have adapted to fight this crisis with the Germans leading the path for a diplomatic solution. For Americans, the question of the extent that Europe will play as peacemakers and rebuilders of Ukraine has provided alternatives that are non-military and can retain international relationships within the EU and with Russia. Germany is the leader in the European Union for the Ukrainian situation as a peacemaker and in economic matters. This has developed out of Germany’s economic ties with Russia and their shared cultural aspects from their communist pasts and being a historical Western outsider. Chancellor Angela Merkel is the example because she grew up in East Germany under Soviet rule and has close Russian ties but maintaining supporting Germany’s role in the EU. While Merkel declared Russian actions in Ukraine intolerable, she has maintained open communications with Ukraine, Russia, and Western allies to work towards peace. The downing of the Malaysian airliner created the unity which helps Germans gain support for the sanctions and from the European Union. Germany has used sanctions even though this harms their own economy. This firm line on sanctions within the EU has helped to place strain on the Russian economy and is believed to have brought Russia to cease-fire discussions with France, Germany, and Ukraine. This ability to bring countries to discuss peace has also been seen with Merkel’s ability to gain the support of the EU countries, most importantly France and the United
  44. 44. Russia43 Kingdom. Merkel’s abilities will aid the United States in ending the crisis and rebuilding Ukraine and relations with Russia. However Germany as the leader for solving the Ukrainian crisis faces some challenges. There have been accusations that Germany is not committed to NATO due to their condescension for war. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said NATO was in danger of becoming, “a two-tiered alliance…between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters bullets, but don’t want to share the risks and the costs” (Kundnani). Gates’ statement is directed at Germany, who spends less on their defense budget than the NATO agreed percentage. This allows the United States to understand that Germany will work to prevent the situation escalating into a war between more countries than Ukraine and Russia. Many view this as Germany’s unwillingness to take military action to solve international problems; this is remnants from the Second World War and the Cold War divisions. For Russia, allies fear that Germany will not deter Russia and Ukraine will lose it sovereignty. Additionally Germany depends on Russia for its energy as well as to export its goods. The EU has placed a great amount of resources into stabilizing Ukraine to help with corruption, economic development, oligarchs, and institutions. The EU has continually funded reforms within Ukraine, the most recent being 1.8 billion Euros in April 2015 to prevent the default of the Ukrainian government. The IMF has placed strict austerity measures on the country in order to receive funds and other conditions to allocate more funds. This new aid is greatly desired with Ukraine 72.9 billion dollars in debt at the start of 2015 (RT). The assistance has followed previous agreements and plans for trade. Additionally in August of 2014, Germany pledged 690 million dollars for the rebuilding of war areas in Eastern Ukraine. Assistance is
  45. 45. Russia44 greatly needed for Ukraine, but there are fears of the corruption and instability of the government especially when the economy is dominated by oligarchs. The aid is much needed but the problem of stabilizing Ukraine is more systemic than simply financial. The European Union has the ability to stabilize Ukraine and bring peace to the region as seen the Germans’ attempts to prevent bloodshed. The costs of peace and stabilization take time and need to allow for systemic changes within Ukraine to fight the corruption and problems within their government and economy. However if the EU is able to end the crisis, the commitment already shown can allow for Ukraine to rebuild into a stable and productive US - Russian Cooperation in the Middle East Cooperation between Russia and the West has been a difficult task to contemplate, however as modernization brings forth novel issues, the fight to tackle increasingly global problems requires a more cooperative strategy. Cooperation aside, the feasibility of working hand in hand with the Kremlin, a political entity that is set on defying the West, has been waning ever since Vladimir Putin took office. In the hopes of truly accomplishing political developments in the Middle East, The US will need to find a common ground in foreign policy that is not focused on twisting Russia’s arm, and more specifically focuses on reducing antagonistic foreign policies that simply divide the White House and the Kremlin even further. The Middle East has been a thorn in the side of both Russians and Americans for the last several decades. Although the concept of stomping out terrorism has been the more recent American goal, Russians tend to view the same issue as stomping out separatists. Finding common ground will be vital if the two powers wish to accomplish anything meaningful in the region. Additionally, the compromising negotiations that would undoubtedly be required to formulate a cooperative plan in the Middle East would allow for growth in relations between the East and the West. As relations grow,
  46. 46. Russia45 working with Russia to bring Ukraine back into a stable state could be a possible tactic in continuing progress with the East-West relations (Morello, 2014). Fortunately, both nations would bring significantly unique perspectives to the table, however unfortunately they would not always be beneficial to achieving any sort of goal. While analyzing the pros and cons of a mutually beneficial foreign policy option, it is vital to realize that even if an agreement was worked on, it would likely be at the expense of many political compromises that potentially outweigh any benefits once the deal is set. The frequently demanded Russian requirement of the removal of US armaments and bases nearing their borders is simply not feasible, and therefore not even a weighable option. Benefits: As ISIS continues to add members to its near 20,000 extremist force, the US and Russia have finally reached a point where interests overlap. In most Middle Eastern issues, the goals have been too different for the two countries to reach an agreement, but now that ISIS is training terrorists and sending them to wreak havoc on both nations, the end goal is one and the same. The process of seeking out intel and leads on terrorist cells is a slow and expensive task, requiring many people and resources to do the groundwork. The divided expense between both the US and Russia would help ease the financial strain of such costly military endeavors. Sharing intelligence on ISIS, sharing US and Russian military advisors, and using pre formulated strategies as employed in Afghanistan would allow for a huge step up in locating and eliminating terrorist activity (Graham, 2015). Working side-by-side with Russia would display a sign of respect as being a needed power in global dealings. Improving relations between the US, Europe, and Russia through
  47. 47. Russia46 political and military agreements in the Middle East will be the vital base work necessary in opening talks on more delicate issues between the East and West. Although military cooperation is not a likely solution for handling the issues in Ukraine, it would likely slow the worsening relations with Russia and the West allowing for the reduction of terrorist activity and more diplomatic discourse. ISIS and Ukraine are not the only reasons for cooperation. Russia and the United States have been facing issues in Syria and Iran that are rapidly growing into large scale global dilemmas (Bishara, 2015). Syria’s use of chemical weapons was an immediate issue for the US when Bashar Al- Assad began using them against his own people. The US stated that this would result in US forces going into Syria, however Russia stepped in and began negotiations with Syrian leaders. The push to continue this progress with Russia will not only remove chemical weapons from Syrian use, but also remove the possibility of the weapons being sold to terrorist groups and ending up crossing Russian borders or European borders. This prime example of a need for mutual goals shows the delicacy of the US - Russian relationship. Chemical weapons are an issue Moscow and Washington see eye to eye on, so the issue was handled. If similar mutually agreeable issues can be emphasized, a partnership has every chance of success (Albright, 2013). Further work to be done in Syria includes the assistance in rebuilding national infrastructure, as well as maintaining pressure on any interim government during the state’s transformation into a democratic country. The US and Russia have the ability to promote continued development, however both countries must be sending a consistent message, otherwise success is unlikely. In Iran there has been a strong push for nuclear development, although specifically what type of nuclear development has been a sensitive subject in the global forum. Iran claims to be in
  48. 48. Russia47 need of cheaper energy sources, but the world worries about weapon development. Both Russia and the United States see eye to eye in regards to keeping any Iranian development away from a weapon focus, but how to go about doing this is where the world remains torn (Albright, 2013). The fear of giving Iran financial assistance in developing nuclear programs is legitimate, in that the program could rapidly turn into a weapons program if unsupervised, therefore Russia has agreed to take full lead on construction of the Iranian nuclear power program through join US and Iranian funding (BBC - Russia, 2014). This is a perfect example of the existence of room for truly beneficial cooperation among a mix of states. Costs: As the potential for strengthening US - Russian relations weighs in on a Middle Eastern policy agreement, so does the vast possibility of disaster. Russia is a country with a strong and independent agenda. The more the US attempts to solve issues in the Middle East, the more it becomes obvious that outside help is needed, however this requires an accurate gauging as to the likelihood that requesting said help from Russia will be fruitful. As we have already seen, Russia has been developing ties with Egypt, which to our allies in Israel is a wedge that could destroy our already weakened partnership (Economist, 2015). In addition to Israel’s outspoken disagreement with a US - Russian plan to assist Iran in developing nuclear power due to the fear of weapon’s development, Israel is an ally, and the alliance must be accounted for (Corsi, 2015). As mutual goals are achieved, Russia’s motivation for cooperation would likely deteriorate and ties to more lucrative partnerships could be strengthened after Russia’s Middle Eastern establishment (Elshinnawi, 2014).
  49. 49. Russia48 Regarding Ukraine’s recovery, primary reasoning against a partnership with Russia is the abuse of the agreements made in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine agreed to dismantle all nuclear weaponry for the right to have all borders indefinitely respected as sovereign Ukrainian land and protection by allied states such as the US, Russia, and Britain. As Ukraine continually calls to the US for assistance against the invading Russian covert forces, especially after Crimea’s secession from Ukraine, any attempt to partner with Russia would be a signal that the US does not care about Ukraine (Guehenno, 2015). Feasibility: The policy option is not as simple as creating a cooperative program in the Middle East. The option is defined as encouraging Russia to assist in the rebuilding and resecuring of the Middle East. By assuring the reduction or elimination of US and EU sanctions and pressing the significant mutual benefits such as terrorist elimination and increased economic and political stability in the Middle East, the remaining factor is the feasibility of such an option. As previously mentioned, Russia has already agreed to take lead on Iranian nuclear energy construction with US and Iranian cooperation, as well as having stepped in for the US in Syria when dealing with chemical weapons. It appears that while entirely legitimate cooperation is unlikely, working towards mutual goals under the pretext of a define joint strategy is possible, but financially must be better understood. When using previous military data as a basis for a rough estimate of the validity of an option, the Iraq War and Afghan War will be base. The Afghan War lasted 180 months and cost $1 trillion dollars including combat, reconstruction, and political reformation programs (Dyer, 2014). The Iraq War lasted 105 months and cost $1.7 trillion including the same combat, reconstruction, and reformation programs (Trotta, 2013). This estimate puts the war in
  50. 50. Russia49 Afghanistan at nearly $6 billion per month, and the war in Iraq just over $16 billion per month (Taylor, 2014). The funding of these two wars, while shockingly high, was possible with rapidly reducing financial and political support from other countries. The feasibility of a partnership with Russia in attacking terrorism in the Middle East and assisting the reconstruction of both the Middle East and Ukraine is logistically and financially achievable. In regard to political feasibility, ground has already been made, but the real question is whether or not enough factors remain which can be used in the encouragement in keeping Russia on track. NATO Not Expanding into Ukraine Cons of NATO Not Expanding Georgia and Ukraine both want to join NATO, and it is still an advantage to be a member. It was an important military alliance created specifically as protection for the treatied nations against the Soviet Union. NATO has prestige and global power, localized in Europe, but its history of ineffectiveness has caused it to be viewed as unnecessary or in need of reformation (Bandow). Even with this possibly decaying organization would sound appealing to both Georgia and Ukraine, in the midst of their situation with Russia. The Russian understanding that Ukraine and Georgia are essentially independent extensions of Russia, and that the West is a hindrance to that idea, has caused Russia to combat their entry into NATO. Georgia and Ukraine’s decision to try and become NATO members caused Russia’s reaction of increased hatred of the West and choosing to create a geopolitical environment that NATO would rather not be a part of than accept Ukraine and Georgia (Mankoff).