Chase Mulvaney | 2 min read
The world scene changed earlier this year after protestors, fighting an urban conflict over the economic future of Ukraine, successfully ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. It was popularly believed that the crisis was coming to an end. A swift overnight annexation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea was launched by the Russian Federation, thwarting that belief. NATO reacted by stepping up its presence in the former Soviet states. Tensions rose on the peninsula, as Russia, seeking to secure its newfound territory, issued a referendum to join Crimea to the Russian Confederation.
Suppose an ulterior motive was at play. Russia claimed that the annexation was done in order to protect the ethnic Russian population there. What if Russia feared losing its only secure trade connection (Crimea) with the western world and Ukraine joined the European Union (EU). Russia used the turmoil in Ukraine to seize Crimea. Not only does Russia keep most of its Navy in the Port of Crimea, but it is also the only feasibly accessible port that doesn’t freeze in the winter. The loss of that site would weaken Russia militarily and economically; so, for Russia, Ukraine joining the E.U. is a threat to national security.
As for American influence in the crisis, both Russia and the United States seek to reach a diplomatic solution, though the US has more of an incentive to assist Ukraine. The United States imports coal, food, and machinery from Ukraine. If Ukraine joined the EU, there would be the potential for more trade and business deals between the U.S. and Ukraine. It could be said that the Russian invasion of Crimea was unnecessary, because, as Ukraine begins to construct a new government, it will have to reestablish trade: that creates the potential for a trade partnership between the United States, Ukraine, and Russia, with Ukraine acting as the go-between, influencing the energy market, strengthening all three countries’ economies and, in turn, potentially strengthening US-Russian relations. For now, tensions still remain high in the Province of Crimea.