Projects

Upcoming Events

Washington, DC
February 14-15, 2017
 
Washington DC
April 27, 2017
 
Washington, DC
June 15, 2017
 
Kyiv, Ukraine
August 30, 2017
 
Washington, DC
October 12, 2017
 
Cambridge, MA
December 7-8, 2017 
Read more...
 
CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
Read more...
 
CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
Read more...
 
CUSUR 2017 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
Read more...
 
CUSUR 2018 - Project IV
Kyiv Seminars for UA Officials

The several visits of young, fresh minded, reform oriented UA military commanders and national security analysts to various top flight foreign policy think tanks and institutes of higher diplomatic or military learning in DC (prompted in good part by CUSUR invitations to its Occasional Briefings) in the latter part of 2014 prompted the UA MOD to propose a slightly different arrangement for similar discussions/conversations in 2015.
Read more...
 
The 'Hybrid War in Ukraine'

US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII

The 'Hybrid War in Ukraine': Sampling of a 'Frontline State's Future?

Derek Fraser

Remarks by former Canadian ambassador To Ukraine Derek Fraser, delivered at US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII, Washington, DC, February 25, 2016.



In order to know whether the War in Ukraine might be the fate of other frontline states, we have to examine what Russia is trying to accomplish.

Putin’s aim has been to recover Russia’s great power status by giving itself a veto over major aspects of European and East-West affairs, and by bringing the other former Soviet republics back under Russian control.

Let us first consider Russia’s efforts to obtain its veto.

President Medvedev in 2008 proposed a multipurpose European Security Treaty.

  • The Treaty would have undermined existing security arrangements, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
  • It would have prevented NATO from acting independently of Moscow on security issues, including blocking any further former Soviet republics from joining NATO.
  • Finally, by dropping the OSCE principles of the inviolability of borders, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the Treaty would have weakened the independence of the East European countries.

Russia also proposed a Union of Europe between Russia and the EU. The Union would have co-ordinated energy, military, political, and strategic matters. In October 2014, Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that the Agreement with the EU would be based on a system of indivisible security where no country would strengthen its security at the expense of the others. He repeated the same message a year later. Such provisions could prevent the EU from acting independently of Moscow or the other former Soviet republics from associating with the EU. North America would be in practice excluded from Europe.

The Medvedev proposals apparently remain the basis of Russian policy. At the latest since 2012, there have been many Russian speeches and articles advocating a return to the Yalta-Potsdam or Cold War system of East-West relations, in which the Soviet Union had a veto.

Furthermore, Foreign Minister Lavrov, speaking in October 2014, stated that the Ukrainian civil war could have been avoided if Russia’s proposed treaties on European security had been concluded.

In the same month, Putin declared that the Ukrainian civil war would “certainly not be the last” without a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements.

Let us now examine Russia’s attempt to bring the other former Soviet republics to heel. In August 2013, Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, which is close to the Ministry of Defence, and the author of an authoritative study of the new Russian Military Doctrine, declared that, in order to achieve the aim of the Russian National Security Doctrine-2020, namely, the renaissance of Russia as a great power, Russian dominance over the other former Soviet Republics had to be restored. Russia could, if necessary, use force to achieve its objectives.

The chief instrument for establishing Russian dominance is the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of former Soviet republics. The EEU is the latest in a series of attempts to re-establish Russian control in the former Soviet Union. The Russians hope that the EEU will grow into a geopolitical bloc with collective security responsibilities.

For Russia, Ukrainian membership in the EEU is essential to the success of the organization. In September 2013, Putin’s aide for developing the Eurasian Economic Union, Sergei Glaziev, warned Ukraine that, should Ukraine signed the Association Agreement with the EU, which would make impossible Ukrainian membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Treaty on Strategic Partnership and Friendship of 1997, by which Russia recognized Ukraine’s borders, would no longer apply, and Russia might support secessionist movements in Ukraine.

During that autumn, Russia maintained its pressure on Ukraine. Eventually, the then Ukrainian President Yanukovych abandoned the EU Association Agreement, and all but joined the Eurasian Economic Union. His actions provoked the Maidan uprising leading to his downfall.

The overthrow of President Yanukovych of Ukraine in February 2014, and the decision of the new government to sign the EU Association Agreement, and perhaps its intention to apply again for NATO membership, led President Putin to activate long prepared plans to seize Crimea and to instigate revolts in the East and South-East of Ukraine.

The Russian treatment of Ukraine may cast a light on Russia’s attitude towards the other former Soviet republics.

If so, their statehood is contingent on their relationship with Russia. In March 2014 President Putin had declared that as a result of the pro-Western revolution, the Ukrainian state should perhaps be deemed to have ceased to exist, and therefore all treaties signed with it should be considered invalid.

Furthermore, Russian laws and doctrines allow Moscow to invade the other former Soviet republics and annex their territory.

Since 2009, Russian law allows Russian armed forces to be used to intervene in support of Russian speakers abroad. Putin asked the Duma for the authority to invade Ukraine so as to protect Russian citizens and compatriots. Under Russian law, since 1999, the term “compatriot” includes Russian citizens, former Russian citizens, and descendants of the citizens of the former Soviet Union or the Russian Empire, in other words, almost the entire population of all former Soviet republics, as well as that of Poland and Finland.

As Herman Pirchner has pointed out, since 2001 Russian law allows Russia to annex other states or territories.

There may be also emerging a new Brezhnev Doctrine allowing military intervention against revolutions in Russia’s neighbourhood. The new National Security Strategy that President Vladimir Putin signed at the end of 2015 goes further than previous Russian official documents in treating presumably foreign inspired regime change in the near abroad as a security threat.

Armed with these weapons, Russia does not hesitate to bully its neighbours into doing its will.

The Russian Institute for Strategic Research (RISI), a think tank attached to the Presidential Administration, which had pushed hard for Russia to invade Ukraine, has pressed the Kremlin to overthrow Belarusian leader Lukashenka.

In reaction to growing Kazakh ethnic nationalism, President Putin stated that Kazakhstan had to remain part of the Russian world. He also described Kazakhstan as an artificial state, a term he had earlier used for Ukraine.

In October 2014, Lavrov declared that Moldova and the Baltic states should ‘consider events in Ukraine and draw conclusions’.

The Russian Attorney General’s Office opened in the autumn of 2015 an investigation into the legality of the Baltic States’ independence. At about the same time, the Russian political analyst Rostislav Ishchenko, an associate of the Izborsky Club, a nationalist group with deep roots in the Kremlin, advocated, in what other Russian commentators have described as a trial balloon, the "preventive occupation” of the Baltic States to force the West into negotiations.

Russian pressure on the Baltic republics is also physical. Russian forces staged a raid on Estonia to kidnap an Estonian security official. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned Latvia about its treatment of its Russian minority. Russian military aircraft violate the Baltic airspace. The Russian Navy harasses Lithuanian ships.

There has recently been an increase in Russian diplomatic activity ostensibly to find a solution to the revolt the Kremlin instigated in the Donbas. While Russia evidently wants to free itself from Western sanctions, from the little that has seeped out from the negotiations, there is so far nothing to suggest that Russia is prepared to surrender control of the Donbas or accept the independence of Ukraine. The increased Russian attacks in the Donbas suggest instead that Russia still is trying to destabilize Ukraine.

It is so far not evident that, in the Kremlin’s eyes, the danger of internal unrest arising from the worsening economic situation in Russia has reached the point where it counter-balances the potential political damage, both at home and abroad, of a Russian retreat on Ukraine. A Russian withdrawal could deal a serious blow to the Eurasian Economic Union and to Russia’s pretensions to great-power status.

There may be therefore no easy or quick fix to the current East-West crisis. Under the circumstances, we must of course continue to pursue negotiations with Russia. At the same time, until there is a satisfactory settlement, we must keep robust sanctions against her, maintain our support for Ukraine, and regardless of the outcome, continue to strengthen NATO.

Abandoning sanctions at this point, or accepting the Russian positions on Ukraine, either of which could lead democratic Ukraine to fall, would not mean a return to normal relations with Russia. It might merely encourage Russia to act against the Baltic republics. It might also provoke a movement of Ukrainian refugees to Western Europe that would rival that coming from the Middle East.

Even should we reach an understanding with Russia on Ukraine that Ukraine could live with and that would allow the Russians to save face, our relations with Russia will not go back to what they were before the seizure of Crimea and the Donbas. For the long term, there is no prospect of Russia becoming a settled democracy or a member of the Euro-Atlantic world.

Russia is a hostile and unstable autocracy at strife with its neighbours. Should Putin fall, it will still remain unstable and probably an autocracy. The history of much of Europe in the twentieth century should remind us that, even under the most favourable of circumstances, the road towards democracy is long, difficult and subject to relapses. Russia does not possess the historical attributes associated with an easy path to democracy. It has no experience with the separation of powers, and little tradition of scepticism towards doctrines, or those in authority.

Russia’s relations with the other former Soviet republics are likely to remain strained and unpredictable. Even without circumstances such as Russia’s imperial pretentions, relations between successor states often stay unsettled for lengthy periods.

In such an environment, even with a settlement on Ukraine, our relations with Russia may be difficult, hostile, and marked by periodic upsets.



 

Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
 
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
 
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
 
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
 
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
 
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
 
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
 
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
 
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
 
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
 
© 2017 CUSUR—Center for US Ukrainian Relations