The geopolitical implications of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

Riana Teifukova
Ph.D. International Relations
Gazi University
Crimea, Ukraine

Russian armed aggression has radically changed the military-political situation both around Ukraine and on the European continent. The occupation of Crimea has become the dominant component of Russia’s influence on Ukraine in terms of the level of military threat due to a powerful Russian military build-up. Russia has set a precedent for violating international stability, where a new agreement on the redistribution of disputed territories became possible between powerful geopolitical players, as was the case with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact before the outbreak of World War II. International security structures have revealed their unpreparedness for the current developments in Ukraine.

Most geopolitical concepts have defined a specific role for Ukraine as an important player, ensuring a balance between the main geopolitical actors being a security buffer for the entire European continent. The geopolitical pivot represented by Ukraine can serve as a protective shield for the entire Baltic-Black Sea region. The existence of a Ukrainian geopolitical pivot had important political and cultural implications for a more active neighbouring geostrategic player, as Russia never could be a Eurasian empire without Ukraine as the heartland, and the gateway region of Eurasia.

The Russian Federation uses the principle of political realism in its foreign policy; therefore, it could initiate implementation of Dugin and Primakov concepts. The Russian geopolitical doctrine is based on the “Russkiy Mir” idea, which is an ideological ground for the new geostrategic formation of the “New USSR”. Such a common civilizational space is based on three pillars – Orthodoxy, Russian language, and common historical memory. The most important component of this project was supposed to be the absorption of Ukraine, or its southeastern regions and Crimea.

The inadequate perception of Ukrainian realities by the Russian leadership and the unwillingness to accept Ukraine’s aspirations to be a modern democratic European state, instead of the Kremlin’s alternative of becoming an appendage of a dictatorial regime following the example of Belarus, destroyed rationality in Putin’s actions. Discussions about the invented oppression of ethnic Russians and the Russian language, ambiguous and distorted interpretations of common history are proof of this.

The invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, after the eight-year war in the Donbas, is Putin’s last hopeless chance to create an “Orthodox Russian Empire.” The mass repressions of the Crimean Tatars in the territory of the occupied Crimea, the destruction of the civilian population of Ukraine since 2014, confirm the extremist component of Putin’s policy. To achieve its goals, Russia threatens the world with nuclear war, even if this outcome will sacrifice the Russian population.

Dictators are constantly covering up their aggressive plans with peaceful rhetoric. Hitler’s speeches used to start with the words “We want peace.” It is known that Germany fought for so-called peace and used military force only to protect itself from all sorts of external threats. Putin’s rhetoric has nothing to do with Russia’s real foreign policy, because during his presidency he committed war crimes on the territory of many countries, justifying those with noble intentions enshrined in the military and foreign policy doctrines of the Russian Federation. The international community’s passive reaction to all the Russian state’s illegal actions for many years fuelled the regime and created the conditions for a sense of permissiveness.

Today, Russia’s act of invasion, which started from the Crimean occupation destabilized the entire geopolitical order. The world has returned to a kind of block-battle period, only the frontiers of the Western bloc have moved eastwards juxtaposed to the Cold War era. Trust in Russia, which constantly infringes international agreements and postulates of the world order, has been destroyed. It will take decades to restore it.

Although the rumblings of the war are noted all over the world, they resonate most strongly in Europe. The invasion turned the idea of a whole, free, and peaceful continent upside down. It seems that in some parts of Europe, the post-1990 order is in shambles – mostly for countries in between, countries that are not yet part of NATO or the European Union. This will likely mean that European borders with Russia’s sphere of influence will become militarized. These trends are already observed in Scandinavian and Baltic countries.

The new wave of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has made the world less secure. Countries are now in a situation where military power is increasingly dominating political relations. The civilized world is at risk that Russia’s provocation of international order could have a volatile impact on other regions, where problematic areas are bound by fragile agreements and guarantees from other great powers.


Expert article 3218

>Back to Baltic Rim Economies 2/2022

To receive the Baltic Rim Economies review free of charge, you may register to the mailing list.
The review is published 4-6 times a year.