Ukraine-Russia Relations

By | January 29, 2021

Foreign relations with Russia have been difficult since Ukrainian independence in 1991. The main points of contention between the two countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union were the division of the Black Sea Fleet, the status of the Crimean peninsula and the city of Sevastopol and the gas debt. Through the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership”, in which Russia and Ukraine as one recognized independent state, the “Agreement on the Black Sea Fleet” 1997 and the “Agreement on Economic Cooperation” in 1998 settled disputes and territorial claims of Russia. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, which leases three bays from Sevastopol, is allowed to remain stationed in Crimea until 2017 according to the agreement.

After the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the victory of the opposition presidential candidate Viktor Juščenko, relations with Russia deteriorated again. The then Russian President Vladimir Putin openly supported the candidate Viktor Janukovyč, who had the elections heavily rigged in his favor. After the peaceful protests against the election fraud and the repetition of the election process, the pro-Western Juščenko was elected president. Above all, Juščenko’s aspiration to join NATO and rapprochement with the West met with great distrust from its eastern neighbors. For example, Russia tried to exert political pressure on Ukraine in 2006 by increasing gas prices and the gas dispute it triggered. At the beginning of 2009 there was another one dispute over gas supplies and prices between the two countries.

Ukraine-Russia Relations

After Janukovyč took office, it looked like an end to the so-called “multi-vector policy” or “pendulum policy” of the Ukrainian top politicians, who for a long time did not want to decide on a foreign policy direction between the EU and Russia. Janukovyč and his government officials vehemently expressed their willingness to sign an association agreement with the EU and not to join the customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, even though Janukovyč always stressed that relations with Russia’s neighbors are of strategic importance.

In the last few months before the Vilnius summit on the Eastern Partnership, the Russian government noticeably increased the pressure on Ukraine, which was met with fierce criticism from the EU. For example, the Russian government imposed a ban on the introduction of products from the largest confectionery factory in Ukraine “Roshen”, threatened the introduction of a visa requirement, tightened border controls so that long lines of trucks formed, and spread catastrophe scenarios, especially in the media state bankruptcy or the economic downfall of Ukraine.

According to dentistrymyth, Ukraine is a country located in Eastern Europe. After the association agreement was not signed, violent protests followed by many Ukrainian citizens and the so-called Euromaidan movement was formed, in which over 200,000 people in Kiev and millions across the country took part. The demand to help shape the future development of Ukraine and to observe basic democratic rights made it clear that Ukraine today has a vibrant civil society. During the protest movement, there were several meetings between Janukovyč and Putin, which on December 17, 2013 led to some agreements. So Russia should give Ukraine a $ 15 billion loanand a gas price reduction from 290 euros to 195 euros, whereby the gas price should be adjusted quarterly. After the regime change in Ukraine and the flight of Janukovyč, Russia again increased gas prices.

The Crimean crisis

On February 23, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament decided to withdraw the language law passed under Janukovyč, through which the regional languages were elevated to the status of the official language. The passage of this law meant the return to Ukrainian as the only official language, as it was before 2012. The interim president Turčynov vetoed the law. On February 27, pro-Russian “self-defense forces” stormed the parliament in Crimea, overthrew the incumbent Prime Minister and appointed Sergei Aksenov in a closed session, who had been associated with criminal gangs in the past and has been the party leader of the “Russkoe edinstvo” (Russian Unity) since 2010, as the new Prime Minister of Crimea. The new power immediately asked Russian President Putin to protect the Russian people and called for a referendum on membership in Crimea. At the end of February, the Crimea was occupied by armed soldiers without a national emblem. They gradually occupied several administrative buildings, airports and attacked Ukrainian military bases. After the referendum on March 16, 2014, which was brought forward several times, Putin signed the annexation of Crimea to Russia. In an “open” question time, he gave the military presence Russia’s Crimea before joining. The illegal annexation of Crimea was condemned by a large number of states and international institutions such as the UN or the Council of Europe and triggered a series of sanctions that not only isolate Russia politically, but also weaken Russia considerably economically.

The Crimean crisis