The Historical and Modern Antecedents to the Russo-Ukrainian Conflict

Pictured Above: The People’s Friendship Arch, built in 1982, symbolized the political and cultural unity between Russia and Ukraine. Following significant deterioration over the following decades, Ukrainian activists painted a crack on the arch to resemble this rupture.

Photo Credit: Timon91

By Manuel Aguilera-Prieto
Contributing Writer

The political circumstances surrounding Ukraine have been marked by a series of tumultuous events that have considerably impacted the international stage. Considering its potential outcomes, the most recent of said events has proven itself to be the most precarious one. Russian proxy forces have occupied the eastern Donbas region after the annexation and incorporation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, an already dangerous situation has escalated into total war. As of March 4, Moscow’s forces have made substantial headway on the Black Sea front. However, the Northern front has seen the Russian military unable to penetrate its heavy fortification. The port city of Kherson became the first major city to succumb to Russian forces, while Kyiv and Kharkiv have been able to hold their ground and repel the ongoing siege. To understand why this conflict has transpired, it is worth analyzing the relevant historical aspects of the crisis.

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The Long Game: Why Protraction Continues to Underpin Moscow’s Strategy to Reclaim Ukraine

Photo Credit: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

By Shawn Rostker
Editor in Chief

Conditions were cloudy with a chance of showers as the sun rose over Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on Thursday, February 24. The literal fog of war had set in across the nation of roughly 43 million people, and for residents in and around the cities of Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Kherson, Dnipro, and Odessa, the showers raining down took the form of high-powered ordnance. In the waning hours of Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day—a holiday commemorating the inauguration of the Red Army—Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a national address stating that Russia would execute a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine to “demilitarize” the nation. Though framed as an obliged response to Ukrainian aggression and ambitions of strategic capabilities, the actions amount to a deliberate invasion of Ukraine and a blatant violation of its sovereignty. A costly and protracted war is now likely to be in the forecast for the foreseeable future, but this has always been the Kremlin’s plan. Putin has always played the long game when it comes to regional ambition, and the strategy for reclaiming Ukraine has always been one of protracted conflict resulting in long-term economic strangulation. The storm of violence currently pummelling Ukraine is one of historical vendetta—one with the potential to threaten the prevailing security arrangements that have underpinned Europe and the international order for over a generation.

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Op-Ed: The Kazakhstan Protests: The Broader Implications of The Re-Birth of Russian Geopolitical Power

Photo Credit: Valery Sharifulin

By Nicholas Tappin
Staff Writer

The protests in early January calling for political and socio economic reform within Kazakhstan, stemming from an abrupt increase in oil prices, revealed a fundamental conflict within the region: a general dissatisfaction with the authoritarian political order that has characterized most of the post-Soviet states and underpinned Russia’s ambitions to reassert its Soviet-era geopolitical power across Central Asia and abroad.

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