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Short History of Ukraine and the Russian Federation’s Conflicts

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Written by Enes Veysel Ugur and Yigit Efe Nas


The Russian Federation and Ukraine are neighboring countries with similar races and languages. However, these two neighboring countries have been fighting for decades. There are lots of reasons behind these conflicts, mostly political and economical. To understand these disagreements between the two countries, we need to go down through their history. Per their history, the biggest problems occurred in terms of Crimea, the Donbas region in the south part of Ukraine and the north part of the Black Sea, non-renewable energy sources, and ideologies.


Crimea is a Ukraine region that is rich in oil and natural gasses and is the most prominent place in the Black Sea that is important for Russian Federation for 2 main reasons. Firstly, the Russian Federation exports its energy supplies to western countries under the Black Sea; moreover, for the Russian Federation, in order to increase their energy supplies which compose 68% of the Russian federation’s exportation, Crimea is so crucial with its energy sources (1).


Secondly, as a result of its location, Crimea is the most important strategic place in the Black Sea which provides the ruler country to manage the Black Sea; thereby, if the Russian Federation loses Crimea’s management, they won’t be able to reach the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.


For these points, the Russian Federation would not, and obviously did not, let Ukraine keep Crimea. In 2014, the Russian Federation conquered Crimea in order to gain control of Crimea (10). After the Russian Federation took over the control of the region, they established the Autonomous Republic of Crimea which then joined the Russian Federation with a referendum (2).

The Russian Federation always saw Ukraine as a less powerful part of the Federation. Therefore, Ukraine declared that they wanted to join NATO and the EU in order to gain some military and political power against the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s this political goal became a priority after the 2004 Orange Revolution even though they already had a partnership with NATO since 1992 (5). As a result of this revolution, Ukraine started to westernize and sign negotiations to accelerate its NATO and EU memberships (12). Yet, the south and east sides of Ukraine were still supported by the Russian Federation. In 2010, national elections took place and Russian supporter Viktor Yanukovych won the presidency (5). As a Russian supporter, Viktor Yanukovych did not let Ukraine become a NATO and EU member (3).


The Western supporters were not happy with Viktor Yanukovych’s politics; as they were seeing the Russian Federation as a threat to their country; NATO and EU were the best choices to resist against the Russian Federation. As a result of Viktor Yanukovych’s politics, in 2014, western supporters made a revolution called the Revolution of Dignity and took control of the country (11). After the revolution, Viktor Yanukovych escaped to the Russian Federation with the cooperation of the Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin (4).


Additionally, in the Donbas region, east side of the country, Russian supporters used this revolution as an occasion and established two new countries named Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic which then united together and became Novorossiya. Because of the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine could not do anything to defend the Donbas region (9).


For the next 8 years, Ukraine has had 2 different presidents: Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky, the ongoing president (8). Both of these presidents supported western countries and tried to become a member. However, if Ukraine enters NATO, the Russian Federation knows that it will lose its power on Ukraine and the Black Sea; therefore, in order to prevent Ukraine to become a NATO member, the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine in 2022 after an 8 years long Minsk ceasefire protocol which started after Donbas conflicts and ends with the Russian Federation’s attacks (6).


In conclusion, since the Russian population is higher in Crimea and Donbas and is too important for Russia, the Russian Federation did not want Ukraine to join NATO. Therefore, they supported the riot inside of Ukraine and took Crimea and Donbas.


However, because of Russia's goal to take all of the south sides of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are enemies and their war is not the end of Russia's expansionist policy. If we continue to acquiesce to this violation, Russia may even declare war on some NATO members.


References:

1. Arkhipova, Y., & Leontiev, R. (2020, January). Increasing the attractiveness of investment projects in the mining industry of the Russian Far East. ResearchGate. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345965552_Increasing_the_attractiveness_of_investment_projects_in_the_mining_industry_of_the_Russian_Far_East/fulltext/60976a4d458515d31507e5ec/Increasing-the-attractiveness-of-investment-projects-in-the-mining-industry-of-the-Russian-Far-East.pdf.

2. BBC. (2014, March 16). Crimea referendum: Voters 'back Russia union'. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26606097.

3. BBC. (2013, November 30). Ukraine protests after Yanukovych EU deal rejection. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25162563.

4. BBC. (2014, October 24). Putin: Russia helped Yanukovych to flee Ukraine. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29761799.

5. Harding, L. (2010, February 8). Yanukovych set to become president as observers say Ukraine election was fair. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/08/viktor-yanukovych-ukraine-president-election.

6. Kirby, P. (2022, March 1). Why is Russia invading Ukraine and what does Putin want? BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56720589.

7. Kocho-Williams, A. (2022, January 31). What's NATO, and why does Ukraine want to join? The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/whats-nato-and-why-does-ukraine-want-to-join-175821.

8. List of presidents of Ukraine. Wikipedia. (2022, March 2). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presidents_of_Ukraine.

9. News, V. O. A. (2022, February 22). What to know about the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. VOA News. Retrieved from https://www.voanews.com/a/what-to-know-about-the-donetsk-and-luhansk-regions-/6452835.html.

10. Simpson, J. (2014, March 19). Russia's Crimea Plan detailed, secret and successful. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26644082.

11. Volosevych, I. (2016, August 31). Ukraine: Results of the revolution of dignity. how have the country and the people changed: Voxukraine. VoxUkraine Ukraine Results of the Revolution of Dignity How have the country and the people changed Comments. Retrieved from https://voxukraine.org/en/pre-and-post-war-ukraine-en/.

12. Zasenko, O. Eliseyovich , Stebelsky, . Ihor, Kryzhanivsky, Stepan Andriyovich , Hajda, . Lubomyr A., Yerofeyev, Ivan Alekseyevich and Makuch, . Andrij (2022, February 28). Ukraine. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Ukraine.


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