Ukraine Crisis | Andrew Wilson

Summary of: Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West
By: Andrew Wilson

Introduction

In the book ‘Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West’ by Andrew Wilson, the complexities of Ukraine’s political and economic struggles are unraveled as it lies at the crossroads between Russia and Western Europe. The summary takes you through a historical analysis of Russia’s interventions in Ukraine, its dependence on Russian gas and oil, and Moscow’s influence on certain Ukrainian politicians. Moreover, it covers the significance of the European Union and NATO in the region, Putin’s power-play strategies, and the corruption plaguing Ukraine. By the end, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and its impact on global politics come into focus.

Ukraine’s Geopolitical Struggle

Ukraine’s location between Russia and Western Europe has led to political and economic struggles. Russia has a long history of intervention and could easily drive Ukraine into bankruptcy by raising fossil fuel prices. Europe seeks to strengthen Ukraine’s ties but also depends on Russia’s fossil fuel supply, while NATO expands eastward and Russia tries to guard its former sphere of influence. The European Union’s strategy of ignoring Ukraine’s predicament has only worsened the situation.

Putin’s Rise to Power

This summary details how Vladimir Putin rose to power and became a dominating figure in the Russian government. Despite formalities, Russia is still far from embracing democracy; undemocratic practices such as bribery, censorship, and political thought suppression still thrive under Putin’s regime. Putin manipulates elections and suppresses anyone who opposes him while using funding to support those who aid in his agenda. The government also works to silence journalists who attempt to reveal the regime’s wrongdoing. Putin manipulates Russians both at home and abroad, and spends billions on public relations campaigns targeted towards neighboring countries, such as Ukraine, to strengthen his domestic and international influence. Putin embraces manipulative and coercive means to maintain power and control in the Russian government.

Ukraine’s Struggle for Democracy

Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it appeared the country was ready for a democratic government. However, corruption was rampant, and the government was too weak to control organized crime. Oligarchs, clans, and mafia groups heavily influenced the country’s politics, which opened a door for Russian elites to fund them. Viktor Yanukovych unlawfully won the 2004 presidential election, leading to mass protests known as the Orange Revolution. Although the Ukrainian Supreme Court annulled the election, corruption still persisted in the country. Yanukovych eventually became president in 2010, and corruption became a way of life in the democratic system that had broken down. The European Union never intervened, leaving Ukraine to continue to struggle with its democratic processes.

Ukraine’s Path to Reformation

In 2008, Ukraine and the European Union began negotiating a free trade agreement, but the European Union required Ukraine to sign an association agreement to dismantle corruption. Ukrainian President Yanukovych declined, fearing it would harm his standing with the government’s funding. In 2013, Yanukovych’s Russian-backed government refused the agreement, sparking protests in the Maidan. When Yanukovych’s government troops intervened, protests grew to a point where the European Union intervened and offered a second deal, which Yanukovych ultimately accepted. The more democratic Ukranian constitution was temporarily reinstated, and Yanukovych fled to Russia with an estimated $32 billion.

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