Ukraine-Russia confrontation and neo-realism – Global Village Space
February 2022, a replica of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict was analyzed in the light of various spectra aimed at unveiling the multidimensional nature of the said enigma. One of the important lenses that one can apply to achieve this conflict could be neo-realism. The realists advocate survival through the security provided by the maximization of power.
The essence and basis of this approach is how to survive in an anarchic world. His belief lies in protecting national interests through the maximization of power. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict can easily be understood through the prism of neo-realism in order to reveal the degree of importance of Ukrainian soil for both parties (West and Russia).
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What is Realism?
A set of rules and regulations, perceptions, assumptions, presumptions and beliefs are absolutely necessary to guide the bearing and operation of something. If there is internationalism, it needs proper guidelines to move forward. There are two dominant concepts, the most eminent, which govern internationalism at the moment: realism and liberalism. The first paradigm has been around for a long time. Sun Tzu in his well-known article, The art of War, explains the ways of living in an environment full of power politics.
Following this, Machiavelli The prince deploys the sustaining method which is very power-focused. by Thomas Hobbes Leviathan is considered a single sovereign entity in its state of nature. The Napoleon of the 19th century and Hitler and Mussolini of the 20th century and the Modi, Trump and almost all the narrow populists of the 21st century fall under the umbrella of realism.
Realism is generally classified into two categories: classical realism and neo-realism. Classical realists view a man’s nature as a fanciful, selfish desire to acquire and maximize his power, thereby achieving his personal goals, primarily to maintain himself in power. Neo-realists call the international system anarchic where there is no single sovereign authority to provide the trade rules for the conduct of international affairs.
Therefore, in such an anarchic system, each state tries to achieve its survival by providing the security that could be obtained through the maximization of power. Thus, power politics is the ultimate stage on the international scene in accordance with the neo-realist approach.
Russian-Ukrainian showdown and neo-realism
Ukrainian soil has been a battlefield since the 2010s between the belligerents, Russia, Ukraine and the West. It’s just because of her attractive nature and responsibility for conflicting outfits.
Ukraine as a buffer state
Ukraine’s geographical location, very close to next-door western neighbor Russia, is seen as acting as a buffer state for the Kremlin, as it will block eastward expansion and penetration of the West in one form or another. Cold War skirmishes around the world to detain, reduce, uproot, expel rival and increase personal influence ended with the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1989 and 1991 officially.
This historic end triggered the unipolar world order led by the sole superpower of the United States. All of the newly independent states that emerged from the former Soviet Union celebrated their entry into a new order of greatly exaggerated liberalism. Russia emerged as the strongest successor to the USSR. Initially, he was potentially weak to maintain his lost and abandoned glory, thus engaging in a number of initiatives like the founding act of NATO and Russiaamong other things to ensure its fundamental interests. The Kremlin kept harping on about being assured of territorial security by stopping the enlargement of NATO (an outdated organization because it was made to counter the westward expansion of communism, the end of which made it useless).
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The US-led West continued to push NATO eastward in 1999 by opening NATO’s doors to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, all of which fall into the zones of Russian influence. NATO’s move in 2004 allowed seven more members from territories under Russian influence to join NATO. All of this infuriated Moscow, but managed to refrain from adopting a retaliatory posture unless it made its economy strong and stable. It was in 2008, when Georgia applied for NATO membership, which officially saw the resurgence and retaliation from Russia by invading Georgia.
The Ukrainian episode opened in the 2010s after that of Georgia
Ukraine’s internal political division and polarization have given rise to pro-Western, pro-Russian and pro-neutral political hordes. The pro-Western political horde is seeking membership in NATO as well as the EU in the face of growing Russian concerns. The friendly move by Ukraine’s pro-Russian president to Moscow in 2014 ignited unrest across the country following which Russia annexed Crimea and extended support for separatists in the Donbass region, in eastern Ukraine. The recent episode of this conflict was born of the repetition and unveiling of Ukraine’s desire to throw itself into the orbit of Western influence by join NATO and the EU.
Moscow has warned the West, including the United States, against expanding NATO or the EU eastward, especially to countries that have long fallen into Russia’s sphere of influence. The West consistently ignores this while expanding its organizations eastward. It is only because the West has an interest in encircling resurgent Russia and cutting its feathers. The perpetual and even momentary existence in the Russian environment categorically threatens the regional interests of Moscow by limiting its sphere of influence.
The possible existence of the West in a Russian environment posing a threat to Putin’s Russian order
Realistically, the Kremlin’s response to the possible and repeated talk of Ukraine’s NATO membership was triggered by another startling fact. The western existence in the Eurasian region or the region which falls under the influence of Russia will introduce the western liberal political and economic system into the adjacent and regional countries of Russia from where it could also seep into Russia from Putin, thereby nullifying and replacing Putin’s authoritarian regime. .
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A number of countries in the region, most recently Finland and Sweden, are galloping towards NATO membership and rushing the Western order which will pose a serious existential threat to Moscow’s regional influence and interests. . For some observers, Russia’s aggressive mode has pushed the non-NATO members of Eurasia to throw themselves strictly into NATO’s fold.
However, this may not be the correct perception as for some, aggressive Moscow has been made belligerent by NATO’s unilateral eastward expansion, particularly into Russian areas of influence. Such an anarchic and disorderly regional configuration, the central concept of neo-realism, the most challenging and threatening of Russia’s regional position, prompted Russia to invade Ukraine in an attempt to hold back the West.
Ukraine has a long history of connectivity with Russia. Despite Kyiv’s geographical contiguity with Moscow, Ukraine remained part of the Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union. In the post-Soviet downfall, Russia is spilling over with a considerable number of the Russian population, Russian speakers and ethnic Russians living in Ukraine. The Kremlin has constantly let everyone know that ethnic Russians in Ukraine face harsh ethnic prejudices that will turn them into minorities.
The alleged ethnic cruelty unleashed against Russian speakers in particular has roused Russia to respond to which Moscow has visited Ukraine. Russia has consistently demanded political leeway for the eastern part of Ukraine – the Donbass whose participation in Ukraine’s electricity corridor could put an end to Ukraine’s long-awaited and desired attempt to join NATO and the EU. Realistically, this is also seen as one of the pushers for Russia to invade kyiv.
- Putin’s Doctrine
Putin’s Russia has embarked on restoring the long-lost glory of the former Soviet Union. Despite being the strongest state to emerge following the fall of the former USSR, Russia initially struggled with its declining economic status and demoralized military position. Putin’s Russia from the 2000s left no room unexplored for economic development, thereby restoring Russia’s undeniable former position.
Although Moscow expressed serious concerns about NATO’s periodic eastward expansion in 1999 and 2004, Russia refrained from being aggressive until 2008 when, after realizing that had developed economically, it retaliated by invading Georgia shortly after the latter expressed its wish to join NATO. , Public. All military missions not only in the Eurasian region, but also around the world help to unmask Putin’s doctrine which aims to restore Russia’s already lost glory, according to which Russia would be considered a key player in the international arena. and his say must not only be listened to, but also respected.
- Russia also obliges the West to provide written guarantees on its troops and weapons stationed in areas of Russian influence. Well-known author and professor Hilary Apple tackles the ongoing skirmish between Russia and Ukraine while being interviewed, saying that Moscow wants more than blocking Ukraine’s membership of the EU. NATO, as has already been done. She argues that the Kremlin wants a written guarantee on Western arsenals and troops stationed in Eastern Europe and areas of Russian influence. However, for some time now, according to her, the West has not been ready to withdraw its troops and weapons. On the contrary, for now, Germany and France have extended their arms and artillery support to Ukraine.
- A well-known article written in Foreign Affairs a few weeks ago repeats the renewal of the Helensky Accords 2.0, the successor to the Helensky Accords concluded somewhere in 1975, which provided a comprehensive security framework for the West and the USSR of the ‘era. This very lack of security assurance has realistically pushed Russia to take tangible steps to ensure its security, thus realizing its survival.
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To sum up this article, realism, especially its neo-realist concept, is quite applied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Realistically, Russia has reached out to Ukraine to avoid the West’s problematic existence not only in Ukraine but also in all areas of Russian influence, thereby protecting Moscow’s regional interests. The US-led West is also driven by the neo-realist approach to squeeze and encircle the Kremlin, thereby diluting Russia’s resurgent posture and extending its liberal politico-economic order worldwide.
The writer did his post-graduation in English Literature and Linguistics from NUML Islamabad. He is a researcher and can be contacted at [email protected]