Ukraine Lost?

An article in the Bloomberg View caught my attention called “Russia and Ukraine Finally Break Up”. It is at: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-30/russia-and-ukraine-finally-break-up?cmpid=yhoo.headline

As everyone is pretty aware, Ukraine and Russia have been closely integrated throughout their history. The word for the Russians, come from the “Rus,” the original Swedish Viking established civilization centered around Kiev (now capital of Ukraine). Kiev is also where the Cyrillic alphabet and the original Russian Orthodox Church were developed. At the height of the Soviet Union, there were many Ukrainians in and about the Kremlin, with one of the eight leaders of the Soviet Union being Ukrainian (Chernenko). My mother-in-laws’ family were from the Ukrainian town of Radomysl, and were driven out of it during the same Russian Civil War my English grandfather was involved with. The family ended up in Kiev and Moscow. As Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated: “We in Russia have always considered Russians and Ukrainians to be one people. I still think so.” Ukraine and Russia have always been connected economically, culturally and often politically. What this article is showing is that there has now been a break economically.

There was also been a clear break politically. Up until the last year, the government of the independent Ukraine (independent since 1991) has swayed between Ukrainian oriented leaders and Russian oriented leaders. This was very much driven by the presence of 17% of the population being ethnic Russians and 67.5% of the population being primarily Russian speakers. Yet, this political break has occurred over the last year. The previously Russian oriented leader of Russia, the now exiled Yanukovich, in the election of 2010 led the first round with 36% of the vote. Even though he then won the run-off election against the Timoschenko with 49%, this third of the Ukrainian electorate seems to have been his core support, having garnered 39.3% in 2004 and 44.2% in the second run-off election of 2004 (with the first run-off results vacated due to extended protests). His support was strong the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, especially among ethnic Russians and Russian leaning Ukrainians. With the events of the last year, the majority Russian areas of Crimea have been annexed by Russia and the parts of the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk have become independent areas in rebellion. This pulls a significant number of Russian leaning voters out of the electorate. Needless to say, this has tilted the electoral power in Ukraine to guarantee that no Russian leaning leader can be elected in the near future (and Ukraine is still a functioning democracy).

If Ukraine has broken politically with Russia and is breaking economically with Russia, does this mean the country has truly and completely evolved into a new relationship with Russia that breaks significantly with the past and puts Ukraine on an truly independent course?

Is this Putin’s real legacy? Has he lost Ukraine, although he gained Crimea?  Is this the uncalculated trade-off resulting from Putin’s foreign policy where he gains Crimea (population 2 million) but losses Russian influence in Ukraine (population 44 million before losing Crimea). Is this the permanent shift of Ukraine from long historical ties to Russia to tying itself to the rest of Europe?

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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