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Ukraine crisis started on November 21, 2013. Before November 21, there was a huge dilemma for Ukraine. Either Ukraine would enter into a partnership agreement with Russia and adopt Eurasian Values, or it would declare the partnership agreement with EU and take a significant step about European Values (Crampes, 2013). Certainly, it wouldn’t be a simple decision. The difficulty in this decision was obvious in consideration of the current economic problems of Ukraine. Thus, Yanukovych, the president of that period, gave a good account of himself about the decision. Russia used the economy as a means of influencing the decision of Ukraine. After Yanukovych couldn’t find the economic support that he had expected, he put off the partnership agreement.

The events on November 21 were not expected. People gathered around the Independence Square after the delay of the partnership agreement (Shevtsova, 2014). While the people from the West Ukraine regarded the union as a great step, the ones from the East and South Ukraine thought that having close relations with Russia was more logical. For this reason, the people got divided into two sides as in the Orange Revolution (Åslund, 2005). These sides determine the future of Ukraine today. While Western Ukrainians waved the EU flags, Eastern Ukrainians waved the Russian flags (Liljas, 2014). Whereas the date of November 21 was the reflection of the conflict between people and the Government, these events turned out to be the first signals of the civil war.

The politics of Russia and EU about Ukraine may be analyzed to realize Euromaidan starting on November 21, 2013. EU aims to design Ukraine democratically and economically with European Values. On the other hand, Russia considers Ukraine an old partner in Eurasian Union. However, the viewpoint of Western Ukrainians on Russia changed the ideas of Putin, the President and some crises like the annex of Crimea occurred. In general, we will analyze the politics of two sides about Ukraine in terms of economy, politics and culture.

The Politics of EU on Ukraine

The relation between EU and Ukraine started just after the treaty of partnership and collaboration in 1998. Undoubtedly, EU ignored Ukraine after SSCB. However, EU regarded Ukraine as a significant country in wake of 2004 EU enlargement. In this context, EU included Ukraine in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The action plan of EU-Ukraine was carried out as a means of ENP in 2005. Political dialogue, defense, foreign policy and economy were the courses of collaboration. In the following years, the membership of Ukraine for World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2008 was supported. Additionally, Ukraine was supported on economic and political reforms in the context of EU Black Sea Synergy.

Ukraine is geopolitically important for EU. Moreover, Ukraine is a significant buffer zone for EU. For this reason, it is possible for Ukraine to be considered “grey area”. According to Thomas Carothers, Ukraine entered into a grey area between EU and Russia (Carothers, 2002). Michal Wawrzonek wrote a similar article on it. He mentioned about the experience of Ukraine after the Orange Revolution in his study “Between the Russian World and Europe” (Wawrzonek, 2014).

Ukraine is significant in terms of energy for EU. EU has problems in security of energy supply and energy dependence. In this context, Ukraine was included in energy policy of EU due to its being energy passageway (ForUm, 2009). However, since EU doesn’t have a shared energy policy, there isn’t only one type of policy about Ukraine. Furthermore, France and Germany consider that having close relations with Russia is more important (Alkan, 2015). This separation makes the EU energy policy about Ukraine weaker. Nevertheless, EU has significant energy policy with ex-SSCB countries: TACIS, TRACECA (Büyükakıncı, 2004), INOGATE and ENPI (Hüseynov, 2001).

EU intends to maintain economic relations with Ukraine. Ukraine is ranked at the 25th as EU partner, 22nd in terms of exports and 25th in terms of imports. While EU imports agriculture from Ukraine, it exports industry products to it (European Commission, 2015). EU has economic superiority in the relations with Ukraine. It struggles a lot to maintain its superiority and make Ukraine reach the EU standards. The EU-partnership agreement may be considered a significant step. Poroshenko coming into power after the overturn of Yanukovych signed this agreement. The agreement which was signed to set up an exhaustive free-trade area replaced the agreement of partnership and collaboration and turned a new page in terms of bilateral relations (European Commission, 2013). Ukraine’s head of state commented on this agreement that it is possibly the heaviest cost to realize the dreams of Europe (Hurriyet, 2014).

The policy of Russia on Ukraine

The policy of Russia about Ukraine is more comprehensive than the one of EU. As known, two countries have a shared history. The policy of Russia is primarily connected with geopolitical factors. According to the political scientist Zbignew Brzesinski, Russia without Ukraine may be effective just like an ordinary Asian country (Brzesinski, 2005). In this context, Ukraine is vital for Russia. Ukraine is also important for the security of the country. Ukraine played a significant role in World Wars (Healy, 2003).

Trade has an important role in the policy of Russia about Ukraine. The fact that Ukraine has 45 million people attracts Russia as an important market. Furthermore, Russia uses the ports of Ukraine while transferring energy to Europe. In addition to its own underground treasures, Russia is concerned with the minerals in the region of Donbass (Büyükakıncı, 2004). For this reason, the mentioned close concern for Ukraine played an important role for Russia to be a revisionist country. Shortly, the policy of Russia about Ukraine is related with economy. Additionally, Russia presented the Customs treaty to Ukraine. The treaty, which is to be considered Eurasian Union, is about Eurasian Values. Eurasian Values describes collaboration in the fields of security and economy (Molchanov, 2012).

The concern for Russians in the region also determines the policy of Russia about Ukraine. Russia regards Russians in the ex- Soviet countries as a Government policy. In this perspective, it competes against the related countries (Adomeit, 2011). Especially, Russians living in the East of Ukraine regards this policy of Russia as a guarantee. Moreover, the people in the region requests Russia for help in the crisis occurring in Crimea and the East of Ukraine (Woehrel, 2015).

Lastly, the factor of religion determines the policy of Russia about Ukraine. The majority of 45 million people are orthodox (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015). Bojidar Cipof mentioned about the competition between Moscow and Kiev Patriarchates in his writing “Church Wars in Ukraine”. Many ex-Soviet countries left Moscow Patriarchate after their independence. In this context, as in the days of Soviet, Putin insists that the Orthodox Ukrainians’ dependence on Moscow Patriarchate is significant (Cipof, 2014).

The evaluation of the Russian and EU aims

Russia and EU regard Ukraine as a buffer zone. However, Ukraine is the West buffer zone whereas it is the East buffer zone for EU. In this context, there is some doubt between Russia and EU. This doubt determines the policy of Ukraine. There is difference between two sides about the definition of Ukraine. Ukraine is a city for Russia (Karadeli, 2014). On the other hand, it is an independent state for EU. The ex-president wrote a book with the title “Ukraine is not Russia”. Kuchma expressing that Ukraine is an independent country from Russia mentions about the differences between two countries (Kuchma, 2004).

The policies of Russia and EU are effective in determining the Ukraine polity. In this context, Russia expects to see a polity which is pro-Russia whereas EU expects to see a polity which is dependent on EU Values. Yuschenko, who came into power thanks to the Orange Revolution, is appreciated by EU while it is not appreciated by Russia. Gas crises may be the samples of this event (Stern, 2006). Ukraine is related with the doctrine of near abroad for Russia. This doctrine may be considered the national profits of Russia in the near abroad (Smith, 1993). On the other hand, EU intends to maintain the relations with Ukraine via ENP.

EU and Russia has different policies about Ukraine in terms of energy policy. The policy of EU includes the courses such as the security of energy supply, the transparency in power distribution and trade and it’s not being shaped by the only market (Yorkan, 2009). Russia doesn’t want to lose its superiority in the area of energy. This difference in the area of energy plays an important role in the viewpoints of two sides on Black Sea. There is competition among the countries having coasts along the Black Sea coastline. The main actors of this competition are Russia and EU. Black Sea is a significant port for EU in terms of the import of Khazar energy. In this respect, EU regards Ukraine as an important country due to its being passageway for energy and as an important area for security, rich sources of energy, the strategical position of Black Sea (Akman, 2014). Firstly, Russia had a competition against Georgia in Black Sea. Russia gained important coastlines in Black Sea after the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Secondly, Russia annexed Crimea on March 16, 2014 (Çomak, 2014). After that, Russia had significant rights about Black Sea.


Ukraine remains in between European and Eurasian Values on November 21, 2013. The people in the West Ukraine are close to EU while the ones in the East Ukraine are close to Russia in terms of religion and culture. This separation first occurred in the Orange Revolution. Yanukovych, coming to power in the 2010 election pursued privileged policies about Russia and Russians. It wasn’t appreciated by the nationalists and the people in the West Ukraine (Çomak, 2014).

Ukraine, pursuing policies as part of ENP of EU, reflected its dependence on the process on November 21, 2013. EU-partnership agreement, which Yanukovych suspended due to economic reasons, first caused him to resign and then the civil war in the country started. Russia annexed Crimea as a reaction of these events and supported the separatists in the East Ukraine (Woehrel, 2015). This event affected the territorial integrity of Ukraine adversely. After that, EU imposed sanctions on Russia due to its part in the chaos. Today, both Russia and the countries with close relations with Russia were considerably affected by these sanctions (Bisenov, 2015). The fact that an internal political crisis turned out to be a global crisis showed us what the competitions of Russia and EU meant.

In conclusion, the people adopting European Values expect support from EU. This support is undoubtedly the EU membership for the West Ukraine. However, according to the formal data, the membership of Ukraine is not under consideration (Büyükakıncı, 2004). Today, it may be just a strategic partnership between EU and Ukraine.



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The strategical partnership defining the relations between EU and Ukraine is mentioned more today.

Şahin Keskin Hakkında

Şahin KESKİN: (Niğde) Niğde doğumludur. Atatürk Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü (2013) mezunudur. Yüksek lisans eğitimini, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Avrupa Birliği Anabilim Dalı’nda Avrupa Birliği programında "Ukrayna'daki Kriz ve AB-Rusya İlişkileri" başlıklı tez ile tamamladı (2015). Aktif katılım göstermiş olduğu birçok kongre, konferans ve sempozyumda tebliğler sunmuş; çeşitli akademik ve yerel gazetelerde yazıları yayınlanmıştır. İlgi alanları arasında; başta Avrupa Birliği olmak üzere, Ukrayna ve Rus Dış Politikası bulunmaktadır.

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