The logic of competitive influence-seeking: Russia, Ukraine, and the conflict in Donbas

Tatyana Malyarenko, Stefan Wolff

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The crisis in Ukraine since late 2013 has seen four successive internationally mediated agreements that have been at best partially implemented. Drawing on extensive fieldwork and 42 key informant interviews sides, we explain this outcome with reference to the logic of competitive influence-seeking: Russia is currently unable to achieve a friendly and stable regime in Kyiv and thus hedges against the consolidation of an unfriendly pro-Western and stable regime by maintaining its control over parts of eastern Ukraine and solidifying the dependence of local regimes there on Russian support. This gives Russia the opportunity to maintain the current status quo or settle for re-integration terms through which Russia can sustain long-term influence over Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy. We conclude by reflecting on the consequences of competitive influence-seeking in the post-Soviet space: the likely persistence of low-intensity conflict in Ukraine; the further consolidation of territorial divisions in other post-Soviet conflicts; and the need for policy-makers in Russia and the West to prioritize the management of the consequent instability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalPost-Soviet Affairs
Early online date15 Feb 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2018


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