Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Ukrainian Crisis as an Ongoing: Threat to Regional Security

Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Ukrainian Crisis as an Ongoing: Threat to Regional Security

Article excerpt


With the rise of turmoil and instability in Europe, once world's most peaceful place, security is returning to the focus of both research and decisionmaking in the region1. A large-scale crisis in and around Ukraine generated farreaching consequences and affected security arrangements on several dimensions. Although it is notoriously hard to measure and graduate levels of the affection, it could be presumed that security - perceived and actual - has been damaged at national, bilateral, regional, and global levels.

Ukraine has lost control over about 7% of its territory as a result of the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and an on-going armed conflict in the East of the country. Ukraine's real GDP fell about 19% in recent two years2. The country suffered over 9.000 casualties and more than 20.000 injured since April, 2014, according to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights3. Along with that, the country's security is challenged by a continuing military tangle with Russia, a powerful and revisionist neighbor, set to deny Ukraine's sovereignty, including the right to carry out an independent foreign policy.

Bilaterally, almost all regional pairs of relations, to which Russia is a party, experienced a dramatic strengthening of security dilemmas. Any use of military force is costly in a sense that is raises suspicion, increases negativescenario thinking, and invites partners to counterbalance. On a bilateral level Russian revisionism generates security challenges for all its neighbors, including the EU and China. When the world's second military is put into operation with a clear intention to challenge the world order by undermining territorial integrity of a sovereign country, one shouldn't be very optimistic about existing bilateral security arrangements.

The same holds true about regional setting. Russia's power projecting capacities are limited, and its geopolitical revisionism is unlikely to be successful in the end. However, it remains a regional power, capable of shaping and influencing regional political agenda. Europe, and most significantly Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, will bear most immediate costs of Russian assertive foreign policy. Security regimes operating in Europe before 2014 turn out to be ineffective and some of them even obsolete. Most international security organizations proved to be of limited capacity. The EU's Neighborhood Policy and Eastern Partnership Project are in need for a deep reform4. Russia's most valued interests are concentrated in its neighborhood, the so called "near abroad". The Kremlin has already indicated how far it could go in defending them against any perceived threats. Altogether that creates a completely new strategic environment in Europe - and in Eastern Europe in particular.

Global security frameworks have also been damaged. Issues of nuclear non-proliferation, territorial integrity, sovereignty are so clearly at stake, that the Ukrainian crisis will inevitably produce changes in a way states think of security and perceive threats. Even if Russia is unable to successfully challenge the world order, the very attempt is significantly affecting international system.

Three hypotheses are put forward in the paper. First, instability in Ukraine spills over national boundaries to generate regional challenges. Second, EU's lack of security strategy - and in particular strategy towards Russia - will be compensated by amendments to national strategies of member-states. Third, with the level of destabilization rising, the region of Eastern Europe will reappear as a geopolitical area dominated by the Russian influence.

Defining Regional (In)Security

Several considerations should be laid down to shape theoretical framework of the study. First, the concept of security is still heavily influenced by political realism. Second, Russia's recent policies enhance hard power, geopolitical, and - specifically - military components of regional security. …

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