Break Point: Scenarios and Regional Implications of the Russo-Ukrainian War
Following Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine, ongoing for almost 600 days with no prospect of a peaceful resolution, Europe is at a geographic breaking point. Russia’s aggression has literally broken the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, taking down the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) along with it. Due to its remarkable resilience, Ukraine has deprived Russia of strategic victory. However, the ensuing war of attrition also renders its own destruction, as symbolized by the Khakovka dam.
War had returned as a solution in Eastern Europe as early as 2020, with the second Karabakh war. Its final episode in 2023 is a sad memento of declining Western influence on matters of peace, and the result of a long maximalist policy of Armenian elites refusing to take the reality of a stronger Azerbaijan into account. Western understanding about the genesis of the war in Ukraine – an upgrade of the military conflict which erupted following the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution, which precipitated a Russian reaction (annexation of Crimea and Russia’s direct military engagement into the conflict in Donbas) – remains oversimplified. The consequences led Russia to underestimate Ukraine, while the current war of attrition found NATO unprepared. Nevertheless, the invasion on February 24, 2022, has provided powerful arguments for those who considered that a conflict between the West and Russia was inevitable.
Ukraine’s EU candidate status, received in 2022, is a symbolic yet important affirmation of Ukraine’s geopolitical ambition and identity. However, in the short term, the Western sanctions have neither stopped nor isolated Russia globally. The sanctions, though unprecedented, have not brought the hoped-for shock to the Russian economy. While in the long term these measures are expected to push Russia backwards, especially technologically, the economic impact of Russia’s isolation from Europe, has also become clearer in terms of large-scale (energy related) subsidies and uncompetitive industries, as well as the effect on human rights and freedoms.
While the West maintains Russia’s isolation, there is a growing understanding in Brussels and among the public that Ukraine’s integration is a must, due to security and economic (including climate-driven transition) reasons that go beyond questions of morals. Ukraine’s dependency on the West is so great that unless it wishes to witness the implosion of the country, the EU does not seem to have a choice in this matter. Ukraine’s integration raises several sensitive structural issues, including those regarding budget, agricultural policy, the European Parliament and the question of further enlargement. It is also coupled with the EU internal reform, which seems impossible to solve in the short-term. Kyiv is logically trying to mobilize Western engagement to the maximum; its future depends on this. Cracks in the EU unity are obvious when looking at the conflict of Kyiv with its Western neighbors regarding the grain ban, which is just a taste of what even a poorly prepared sectorial integration of Ukraine might look like.
Genesis of the war
While Ukraine found its way on to the EU’s political (mental) map following the Orange Revolution in 2004, the Euro-Maidan Revolution has made Ukraine central to the EU’s Eastern partnership policy (and beyond). The EU flags manifested at the Maidan caught Western attention; the flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its internal implications less so. The peaceful revolution, supported by 52% of the population according to the polls, ultimately morphed into violence. The ensuing chaos saw former President Yanukovych fleeing, an interim government (among its first steps were targeting the status of Russian language), and a long-term polarization mired in violence with the armed insurgency in Donbas and the Russian military engagement.
Ukraine’s European integration path has been accompanied by an internal anti-Russian trend. In 2014-2015, Russia twice sent its army to Ukraine (Ilovaisk in August 2014, and Debaltseve in February 2015), however, the role played by Donbas natives should not be ignored either. For Moscow, an agreement with the Europeans was at that time more important than the subjugation of Ukraine. While there is no doubt that both Minsk Agreements were overall more favorable for Russia (from Ukraine’s viewpoint definitely), it stopped any large-scale hostilities.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s sweeping victories in the 2019 elections (a presidential and then a quickly announced snap parliamentary one) returned hope for a diplomacy-driven solution and fears from a rapprochement. However, a number of internal and external factors were against a change of policy: strong domestic opposition (including the Maidan coalition of mainstream parties, civil society and nationalists’ groups) as well as external factors such as Russia’s lack of willingness to compromise (including Putin’s shift during COVID) and the West’s (especially the EU’s) lack of instinctive trust in Zelenskyy.
While there were some optimistic signs, by the summer of 2020, when Kyiv did/could not agree to “separatist” Donbas’ representatives joining to the Trilateral Contact Group, and with the inauguration of the Crimea Platform, it became clear that Ukraine was turning toward securitization. The factor of the United Kingdom is noteworthy in this process, starting with Zelenskyy’s October 2020 trip to London, where he discussed the role of Russian disinformation with the head of MI6 and prepared the UK-Ukraine Naval Agreement to beef up Ukraine’s navy capacity. The UK managed to announce a strategic partnership with Ukraine and Poland just ahead of the Russian invasion; it played a key role in the commencement of sending lethal aid to Ukraine; and acted as an icebreaker toward the US (and NATO allies) with regard to almost every type of weapons system. Furthermore, Britain’s Winston Churchill served as a role model for Zelensky’s war performance (in mobilizing the US and Western audience); it is the largest military training and advice-provider to Ukraine during the war; and, finally, former PM Boris Johnson played a critical role in helping to mobilize the West and keep Kyiv on course. No wonder that reportedly during the war, the UK and the US interests in Ukraine were mismatched at times.
Another factor was Belarus’ 2020 election and the subsequent widespread protests. These events shook the Lukashenko regime, which in the end has managed to survive only with violence and Russian assistance. Ukraine suspended all interstate relations with Belarus during the protests; its secret services might also have played a role. These events have hardened positions on both sides.
Kyiv’s actions against the “pro-Russian opposition” (February 2021) and the establishment of the Crimea Platform (August 2021) made Ukraine’s turn definite. Symbolically, it was a day before the Crimean Platform (on Ukraine’s Independence Day) when the visiting German Chancellor Merkel was the first to officially declare that “Russia is party to the conflict.” This was picked up by French President Macron, and then the EC. While it was barely noticed in the West, in Moscow, this change of (official) rhetoric was interpreted as the end of the Minsk Agreements.
Regarding Ukraine’s NATO and EU integration, it was not so much NATO expansion per se that Russia opposed as much as the exclusion of Moscow from the post-Cold War European security architecture. The Alliance, despite what the Russians had been led to believe at the end of the Cold War, NATO had become the cornerstone of this architecture. The European strategy of economic interdependence with Russia failed not because it was ill-conceived as such, but because Moscow’s strategic calculus had shifted to consider partnership as a “creeping inclusion” of Ukraine into NATO.
Finally, the long standing gaps between symbolic and tangible in EU policy and between the narratives and possibilities, played their own role. From 2014, the EU had built asymmetric relations with Ukraine (Association Agreement and its impact) where most of the costs of the (quasi-) integration process fell to those wanting to join the club. This was also possible because Ukraine made an exclusive objective out of its Euro-Atlantic integration, even putting it into its constitution just ahead of the 2019 elections to disallow any change of geopolitical course. While it developed the EaP with geopolitical competition in mind, Brussels preferred – and believed in – the status quo, utilizing the effort of those EaP countries who wanted more integration, and having a troubled relationship with those that did not. Hence, the departure of Chancellor Merkel, Ukraine’s turn toward securitization, and the subsequent Russian invasion caught the EU by surprise. While the real progress of Ukraine’s integration is connected to the EU’s internal reform, the pressure on the Bloc to create a credible integration process has been growing, regardless of how the war ends.
War as a solution
The 44-days-long second Karabakh war in 2020 was a warning sign that the legacy wars of the Soviet Union, those left unsolved as frozen conflicts, are returning. Similarly, the Russian-Ukrainian war is ultimately about the legacy of the largely peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union. The full backing of the “international community” (meaning Western governments and institutions) of Ukraine since the February invasion heralded the end of an era when these institutions could play a more neutral, facilitating or even mediating role among the parties to a conflict. The invasion of Ukraine is largely seen as a prelude to a much bigger Russian ambition: the restoration of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.
The war only reinforced the previous trend of decoupling, leading toward a divided world and Europe. The Russian invasion and its consequences have disrupted major processes started over 50 years ago:
- The US “cold war” with China, ending the Nixon era (1972) pivot, resulting in a strong anti-China sentiment in the US and most of Europe, and treating Russia and China as part of the same bloc. This allowed them, despite not being strategic allies to get closer.
- German Ostpolitik (from the time of Willy Brandt) and German-Russian energy cooperation; its abrupt end symbolized by the sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines.
- The shift from the Washington Consensus, at least rhetorically, as epitomized by Jake Sullivan’s NSA speech, due to national security reasons. This is expected to further fuel the regionalization started by the COVID pandemic, characterized by the re-emergence of BRICS, the re-emerging importance of the Global South and particularly Africa.
In Europe, there is little appetite to engage with Russia. The war created a “security first” approach, fueled by emotions but limited by an inadequate industrial capacity. The current mental state of Europe is built strongly on morale; it is at the same time polarized, as citizens are paying the price. Europeans have embarked on a process of self-vassalization, in which they sacrifice much of their independence in foreign policy to Washington in return for protection.
Nevertheless, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine already has substantial consequences on European policymaking: the war has reinforced Baltic/Polish fears, which had in the past been often dismissed by Germany. Berlin is trying to pull a dramatic change of its policy from Willy Brandt since its economy is now under enormous structural pressure, mostly due to structural energy production change. Europe has shown a remarkable shift away from Russian energy sources, and looks set to continue on this path. At the same time, along with the green transformation, this will keep energy prices high with implications on its economic (and therefore social) fabric. Keeping the unity together will require further tightening (of the EU’s rules), targeting the so-called “pro-Russian” political segment (after Ukraine and Moldova this is now evident in Poland and Slovakia). This will further encourage groupthing and further polarization of public debate in the EU.
The influence of the Ukrainian information space on Western institutions and media has resulted in a successful mobilization of support among Western audiences and the frequent elimination of previously-stated red lines (as Kyiv openly states from time to time). As a result, the Western audience is now seeing the war and its implications almost exclusively through a Ukrainian lens, instead of its own. In these circumstances, the European elites have scant other choice than to double down and avoid a complete vertical/horizontal escalation. This makes the EU’s decoupling from Russia and a new iron curtain the base scenario; and from this viewpoint the main question of the war is about the border.
The current stage of the Russo-Ukrainian War shows signs of a reduced offensive military capacity. RuAF focused on troops conservation (withdrawn from all disadvantageous situations/positions) as it faced a great disadvantage from the beginning, UAF has fought till the end in every battle (Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Soledar, Bakhmut) with consequent losses in manpower. The originally advantageous manpower situation of UAF has been balanced following the Russian mobilization last year.
Ukraine is under pressure to deliver results: as President Zelensky said, any Russian victory could be perilous as it can bring about pressure to sit down at the negotiating table. Kyiv‘s goals remain maximalist, and are now openly communicated in the form of Russia’s defeat. Compared to the Ukrainian determination, the Western objectives are more complex; for example, Ukraine is being supported to the maximum extent by the US government but within the Biden administration’s actual red line, i.e., direct engagement in the war. Meanwhile, there is a fear in especially western Europe that a collapse of (a nuclear-armed) Russia would create an ever-larger security risk for Europe.
Russia has had long months of defense preparations and training, while it continues to maintain numerical artillery and air superiority. The current assessment is that the Russian military industry appears in better immediate shape (also due to its larger Soviet era reserves) than the Western (especially European), even though it can’t produce enough, and needs help from Iran and North Korea. Only the US could match Ukraine’s needs in the short and medium term, but its weapons systems are complex and expensive, requiring US servicing. Beefing up industrial capacity is a challenge even in the US, yet alone in the EU. The war in Isreal splits attention and ammunition, and the US enters its own 2024 elections.
While Ukraine has the motivational and mental advantage, its dependency on the West has massively increased in terms of material and money. However, this dependency is also mutual: the US cannot let Russia win. This geopolitical position, combined with the West’s (perceived) moral obligations, is being exploited by Kyiv to the maximum but also creates tensions between the US and Ukraine.
As of mid-October, Ukraine’s counter-offensive has not fulfill the (perceived) objective of cutting Russia’s land-bridge; the minimalist goal is to create a forward position to create fire control over supply routes in the land-bridge (M-14 and railway) and prepare for 2024. As of now, the following scenarios could be possible:
- Fortress Ukraine (longer war): According to the US assessment, and most of Western media analysis, stalemate is the current base scenario. Depending on how the UAF counter-offensive is going, this scenario entails various options, including escalation toward using a tactical nuclear weapon. While the US objective might be freezing the conflict ahead of its own 2024 elections, for Washington to become the peace party at this stage reeks of defeatism rather than principle. The proposition that “the US cannot be seen to abandon its ally" resonates, so Washington prepares for a longer war (as plan B). This scenario requires continuous and substantial western support.
- Freezing (Minsk 3): The other scenario in case of a stalemate is freezing the conflict around the current frontline. This option is also called a Korean scenario, although Kyiv will unlikely sign a formal ceasefire. While this would be an imposed solution for Kyiv, it would also have to come with credible security guarantees. Statements from Kyiv and Moscow indicate that neither is willing to compromise and that third-party mediation efforts will not work until at least after the next offensive. Among the White House’s concerns is another Russian offensive amidst the hot phase of the 2024 US campaign. Prigozhin’s demise creates more room for the Kremlin regarding freezing, as the Z-nationalists have lost their biggest patron. This scenario would allow: 1) Ukraine to consolidate 2) a time-out for the US (during which Western industries could beef up military production) due to its own elections in 2024, 3) and for both sides to prepare for another round of hostilities. The danger of this scenario is the fragile state of Ukraine: in the case of no hot war, the focus would shift from resilience to enormous economic and social questions (and political infighting).
- Expansion (Breaking East): Other options have a dimension of expansion in terms of Ukraine making serious progress in the South; the West ratcheting up its military support with air force and long-range missiles; NATO countries being sucked into the war directly, or the war expands to other Eastern countries (Belarus, Moldova). The US already promises a military (conventional) reaction in the case of the use of a tactical nuclear weapon. The question here is to what extent the West may have to consider “saving” Ukraine from a Russian victory. Given the war is a legacy of the fall of the USSR – and will mark the boundaries of the new “iron curtain” – expansion is possible toward Moldova and Belarus, as well as Georgia and Armenia, where there is a high and open dissatisfaction with Russian security guarantees following the loss of Karabakh.
- Ukraine victory (Putin’s regime collapse): A successful counter-offensive would lead to rebellion in Moscow. Unless there is a collapse, this scenario would bring only partial success, as Russia under a different leadership would likely continue the war effort. In the case of an imminent Ukrainian victory, there are options that Moscow could escalate (nuclear option) or chaos would ensue before it would concede defeat.
- Russian victory (Encircling Kyiv): While many in the West consider even a ceasefire with the current frontline a Russian success (given at least the creation of land bridge as a minimalistic objective was met), Russia has the incentive (and presumably the military might) to continue the war of attrition, in which Russia is considered to have the advantage given its resources. The Kremlin can plan another, even larger invasion for 2024, even though it does not look capable of such. Moscow might have considered it a victory to keep Donbas, Crimea, and the land bridge, creating a buffer zone to the Dnipro River. However, the question of Kharkiv and Sumy (next to the border) have become acute following active Ukrainian efforts to bring the war to Russian territory.
There are several key factors determining what scenario will develop in the end. One of those is the state of the Russian economy and society: so far Moscow has managed to minimize the impact of the sanctions in the short term, while trying to increase its military production. The Prigozhin rebellion was a serious affair threatening a tragedy for the elites – and it will continue to resonate – but the government managed to quickly suppress it (with a great dose of luck). Importantly, Moscow has so far managed to shield society from much of the consequences of the war, and Western sanctions.
Another one is Ukraine’s cohesion: Ukrainian society shows growing signs of tiredness from the war and fear due to increasing mobilization. Based on the latest polls, it is divided about whether to continue the fight at all costs, but also unwilling to compromise. There are three society segments emerging: supporters of a military solution (40–45%); being tired of war (20–25%); for peace up to 20%. Nevertheless, the data about unwillingness to compromise legitimizes the authorities’ resolve (i.e., maximalist goals). The growing economic and social challenges have already created a front and rear Ukraine. These issues, along with politics, would return in the case of freezing (i.e., low intensity warfare), while already putting strains on Ukraine‘s possibilities.
Finally, Western unity is the most complex issue of all. Public backing for supporting Ukraine is declining, but still remains remarkably solid. However, politics in the US and EU makes the original unity wobble. The task is multiple: the U.S. has been trying to avoid an expansion of the war, shore up NATO’s Eastern flank, and help Ukraine to succeed on the battlefield, while itself needing a time-out for its 2024 elections. The West (especially Europe) has so far not been capable of putting its military industry into a higher gear; the question is whether it could meet Ukraine’s war needs in the short and medium term.
While the US declares its long-term support for the Ukraine war effort, there are indications that politically it would like to have a time-out for the 2024 electoral campaign. Pro-Ukraine governments in Europe are facing electoral challenges across Europe. While this will unlikely bring serious policy change regarding Ukraine (à la Hungary), this will complicate the steadfast support that a long war requires.
Ukraine is admittedly trying to break Western (US) red lines, but it has been unable to achieve NATO membership and security guarantees. That speaks about the limits Western resolve, and points to the gap between the symbolic (EU integration process) and the deliverables. At the same time, it is a fact that Ukraine has become a major factor in the EU’s foreign and security policy considerations.
Western sanctions imposed on Russia were largely ignored by 70% of the world, showing that the Western world cannot isolate a country as large as Russia. Overall, this trend buoyed the Kremlin, while the financial sanctions lowered trust in the Western financial system and created incentives for the East to accelerate their own systems, further contributing to a more divided world.
Beyond its unity vis-à-vis the Russian aggression, the West remains divided when it comes to its interests and views on how to proceed with or end the war and what to do with Ukraine and its neighborhood. Regardless of how the war ends, Ukraine will require massive support, or it may turn into a basket case.
It was the EU symbolically dividing the EaP before the war into two tracks: for those wanting to integrate (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) and for those that do not or cannot (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus). Following the Russian invasion, the policy, which has been hidden in the trenches since 2014, is broken. Ukraine and Moldova were given the promise of membership just like the Balkan countries in 2003. Georgia is being treated with suspicion after trying to keep a neutral stand in the war. Belarus is considered a political prison; Azerbaijan a fuel depo; Armenia as the victim of the Russian betrayal.
The situational power shift following the Russian aggression toward the East caused the EU to adopt most of the Baltic views in its security posture, with all the political and economic (energy, etc.) consequences. Following the war’s inception, the EU has been trying to revamp integration, essentially to compete with Putin’s land grab. This invertedly suggests that the Eastern Partnership policy was more about (keeping) Russia (out), than about the countries in-between.
While the political will for another expansion has emerged, the tools have not been developed. French President Macron’s offer for the EU eastern members – expansion in return for internal reform (losing veto right and multi-speed EU) – is unpopular among the Block’s Eastern members, who find their position (and importance) shifting due to the war.
The EU struggles with the lack of a financial mechanism to currently support Ukraine; the Commission proposed the member states to increase the budget to accommodate Ukraine’s needs. The macro-financial assistance was not designed for such a purpose, but this was nonetheless available.The integration is moving from being symbolic to concrete membership talks, but a “tangible” process has large structural challenges. Among the largest is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): if Ukraine joined the EU, it would account for about one-fifth of all the bloc’s farmland, and it would be one of the largest, least well-off member states with a claim of €186 in the next budget period under the current rules. However, due to the impact of climate change, Ukraine’s agricultural and rare earth potential is needed for the EU, not mentioning the much-needed reform of CAP.
The EU embracing a Ukraine in jeopardy is making its position in the Western Balkans a failure: Albania’s PM Edi Rama’s joke about “who can attack whom to join the train of Ukraine to the EU” is its best manifestation. The Balkans, because of its past, is much more sensitive to the perception of security. However, the Western Balkan states have no serious alternative to the EU integration process, no matter how long they must wait in the waiting room, especially with weakening Russia as a Western priority.
Russia managed to put a nuclear stamp on Belarus; moving tactical nukes there essentially confirms it to be a Russian base, something Minsk has been trying to avoid for decades. Securing Belarus as an ally, throughout the 2020 tumultuous elections, was a key Russian military tactic, as no offensive on Kyiv would have been possible without it.
In the Caucasus, the dramatic dissolution of Armenian Karabakh sent a definite message that war is the primary solution for frozen conflicts. The Georgian government maintains a neutral position despite the country’s previous strong pro-Western credentials. This “seclusion” is part of the Georgian Dream government’s reaction to the Russia-Georgian war in 2008, the Western understanding of the country’s politics connected to the Saakashvili era, and the influx of Russian refugees and their economic impact.
While the war rages on, Moldova sneaks in. As the EPC summit in Bulboaca showed, Moldova might be the geopolitical winner of the war, if it can move on the EU integration track. For this, the current frontline should be consolidated (i.e., be no threat to Odesa), and Chisinau will have to find a solution regarding Transnistria, preferably using the EU model of citizen-driven society as a superstructure to its national identity. The latter is no small feat; meanwhile Chisinau is making calculations and plans, including starting to pursue a soft-Romanization policy. The former may complicate the latter, even though the breakaway region’s trade integration to Moldova is now almost complete.
What kind of Ukraine
One of the key questions is what kind of Ukraine the EU will integrate after the war. The destruction of the Khakovka dam is a sad reminder that no matter how the war ends, Ukraine’s infrastructure (at least the Southeastern parts of it) is going through a large-scale destruction. The cost of reconstruction and modernization is now estimated by Kyiv at a trillion dollars.
Large shifts are going on in the economic, demographic and social fabric of the country. The 52 million population at the fall of the USSR has shrunk to an estimated 29 million. The war has brought de-industrialization in the East, the budget was militarized (even though the economy remains market based), the once booming IT cluster was relocated, and the Black Sea blockade put Ukraine’s position as a global grain power into jeopardy.
Ukraine is now (almost) completely dependent on Western financial aid and military support – but the size of this dependency makes it impossible for the West to disregard Ukrainian interests. This makes Kyiv’s “bargaining” position vis-à-vis its donors strong, sometimes leading to tensions. The reconstruction will be an enormous (positive) factor, however, relying on private investors requires a reliable and stable peace, which seems far away at this stage.
Since the war, the key political trends have been consolidation of power, militarization of society and securitization of state. Securitization started in 2014 with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and supporting of the Donbas insurgency. It has reached a qualitatively new level after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The introduction of martial law provided a new set of tools to push securitization even further. It rests upon refocusing most available resources to the defense sector, consisting of a more important role for the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) and the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI); the united information policy; de-oligarchization also as a form of political control; a ban of pro-Russian political parties; and centralization of power in the hands of the Office of the President (which martial law allows).
Militarization of society, and the accompanying (complete) shift of the mood against Russia, has been a trend since the beginning of the invasion, which has reinforced previous post-Maidan trends. “Fortress Ukraine” requires militarized elites and a disciplined society, which Kyiv has been consolidating since the outbreak of war. Ukrainians’ information and communication discipline is just one of the clear examples for this. There is an erosion of the information discipline, as evident by the growing unpopularity of the “united information policy,” and as the anti-corruption fight has been returning to the surface. There is also a clear tiredness – society is divided between rear and front – which limits further militarization.
Nevertheless, there is no support for compromise in the latest polls, which makes Kyiv’s maximalist war goals legitimate. Finally, the factor of Ukrainian refugees in Europe: as President Zelensky himself said, the millions of Ukrainians in Europe are also being used to influence Western policymaking via public pressure.
US Senator Graham’s open “encouragement” about elections despite the war is a signal of the return to the consistent US policy since Kuchma’s times – power sharing. The fight against corruption, and corresponding corruption scandals, is back in the limelight. Ukraine is back on track with its dual fight: the war against Russia and the internal one about its own governance system, at a time when circumstances are getting more and more fragile.
The whispering in Kyiv’s political circles is that “winning the peace” might be harder than fighting the war, as reconstruction requires more than resilience. Ukraine needs a vision beyond fighting, one that would be inclusive enough – yet also secure enough – for the post-Russia world it will live from now on.
 See the current thinking in the conclusions of the French-German group (enlargement in exchange of scrapping the member states veto right). https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/europe/cooperation-in-europe/-/2617320
 Poland made clear the grain ban has a long-term perspective connected to Ukraine’s integration https://notesfrompoland.com/2023/09/14/poland-will-not-let-ukraine-joining-eu-without-grain-restrictions-says-minister/
 In the beginning of 2014 protesters seized regional administration buildings in Western Ukraine https://www.rferl.org/a/beyond-kyiv-regional-protesters/25242538.html. This will be repeated in the East, following Crimea annexation, albeit with weapons.
 One of the most informative accounts about the revolution (including Western coverage) is this book review https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/turning-a-protest-into-metaphysics/
 Michael Kofman et al, Lessons From Russia’s Operations in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. See: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1498.html
 There are plenty of useful resources about proxies, freelancers, and local stakeholders. A fresh book argues that it was the Kremlin’s fuzziness creating unexpected spaces for the agency of individuals. See https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Russia/The-Hybrid-Warriors-and-the-Invasion-of-Ukraine-221773
 It appears Merkel’s warnings of “massive damage” to Russia and German-Russian relations persuaded Putin to call a halt to the advance of the Russian-backed separatists https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-merkel-idUSBREA2C0HC20140313
 Some of these such as the growing role of Ukrainian diaspora in the US and Canada since 2014, the so-called Russia Gate in the US or the arms industry’s interests are out of scope of this paper. Both in case of Armenia and Ukraine, diaspora politcs have (strong) impact on the maximalist goals of Yerevan as well as Kyiv vis-a-vis their respective frozen conflicts.
 A month before the 2019 elections, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted changes to the country’s Constitution, including European integration and NATO membership seen as a prevention mechanism by former President Poroshenko and his domestic and Western allies.
 Beyond the prisoners’ exchange, it was especially the gas transit agreement what was considered favorable for Ukraine https://www.icis.com/explore/resources/news/2019/12/31/10456279/ukraine-russia-sign-5-year-gas-transit-agreement/
 Including building naval bases at Berdiansk and Ochakiv https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/uk-ukraine-security-cooperation and out more emphasize behind the mosquito fleet concept (adopted in 2018) what is being successfully implemented during the war. https://www.ukrweekly.com/uwwp/ukraines-new-naval-doctrine-a-revision-of-the-mosquito-fleet-strategy-or-bureaucratic-inconsistency/
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British–Polish–Ukrainian_trilateral_pact. Originally, it was the initiative of Kyiv.
 New archival material from the Blair years on the UK's relationship with Ukraine suggests that London has often seen Ukraine as a useful buffer against Russia. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jul/19/ukraine-thought-uk-had-too-rosy-a-view-of-putin-tony-blair-was-told-as-pm
 Which came after a period of thaw with the West that has agreed to reduce the sanctions into a symbolical minimum (from 390+ to 8 entities), and Lukashenka ended the campaign on an anti-Russian ticket. https://www.dw.com/en/belarus-lukashenko-accuses-russian-mercenaries-critics-of-plotting-attack/a-54398681
 https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/07/europe/ukraine-belarus-russia-mercenaries-sting/index.html. The infamous Wagner case were being used later to accuse Head of Zelensky office with treason and Russian ties.
 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-sanctions-idUSKBN2AJ28O#:~:text=KYIV%20(Reuters)%20%2D%20Ukraine%20on,Russian%20oil%20products%20to%20Europe. The sanctions regime enacted under the National Security and Defense Council changed the status of “pro-Russian” from political to a legal category; it was considered in conflict with constitution. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/19401612231167791
 The western perspective was framed with cca. 200 meetings under Normandy format what showed Russia was not willing to engage unless the result will be a Bosnia-like constitutional architecture.
 Especially the EaP founding fathers Poland and Sweden, what has been gradually adopted by the Bloc and the Commission following the pressure of the EU most hawkish members and those EaP countries wanted to integrate https://www.clingendael.org/pub/2021/the-eastern-partnership/annex-1/
 See Russian ultimatum to NATO to “return to pre-1997 borders" issued by the end of 2021.
 The Russian army has a numerical advantage in artillery systems but are at a range disadvantage to the Western artillery systems supplied to Ukraine.
 Kyiv did not announce the offensive’ objectives, this is perceived in Western media and analytical circles.
 It would make many net recipients into net payers; would cut CAP payments by 20%, would stop cohesion payments to CZ, EE, LT, SI, CY, MT. https://www.ft.com/content/a8834254-b8f9-4385-b043-04c2a7cd54c8
 The role of Russian factors and finances in 2020 elections is a factor not well known in the West. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2336825X20984337
 Western military aid comes in form of weapons system and supplies; Ukraine finances the war from its own budget. Western financial support is used to fund other aspects of functioning of the state, not the defense sector.
 At least this was the conclusion of the last Ukraine Reconstruction conference in London. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/private-sector-must-be-ready-to-invest-ukraines-recovery-offers-a-return-for-businesses-and-democracy
This publication represents the views of the author(s) and not the collective position of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) or the “Europe’s Futures” project.