Russia not responsible for upheaval in Ukraine

My colleague at the University of Newcastle, Roger Markwick, has written a great piece in the Newcastle Herald about the situation in Ukraine. Roger is a well-respected specialist on Russian history, with a couple of books and many articles focusing on the Soviet era. The piece is entitled ‘Russia Not Responsible for Upheaval in Ukraine’, in which he writes: 

Far from Mr Putin stoking the flames of Ukrainian separatism, with the notable exception of his annexation of Crimea, he has been cautious in dealing with the West, Kiev and Russian separatism.


If responsibility for the upheaval lies anywhere, it is with Washington and Western Europe; particularly NATO, as it has marched eastward: nine former Warsaw Pact nations and three former Soviet republics have been incorporated into NATO. Given the catastrophic Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union during the Second World War, it is not surprising that Moscow has viewed the prospect of Kiev falling into Europe’s and NATO’s orbit with alarm.


Notwithstanding his Russian patriotic rhetoric, Mr Putin’s priorities are Russian national security and stability, not the occupation or break up of Ukraine.



2 thoughts on “Russia not responsible for upheaval in Ukraine

  1. I agree that Putin reacted to what happened in March (when his ‘friend’ Yanukovich was overthrown) because he saw Maidan as an intervention by US and EU in Russia’s ‘near abroad’. He is certainly not responsible for Maidan, but he is responsible for what happened afterwards: the annexation of Crimea and the separatist (or I should rather say secessionist) mutiny in Ukraine’s western regions. Russia had given them arms, moral support and even troops (the recent development), so Putin did intervene. Not a direct aggression yet, but close to what US is doing in Syria – a proxy war. So I think Russia should at least share the blame for what is going on in Ukraine along with US and EU.

    1. Of course, when foreign mercenaries (Academi), equipment and strategic direction appear in a foreign and hostile neighbour, you can hardly expect Putin not to respond. As Markwick points out, the memory of invasions from Western Europe run deep in the Russian psyche. The current push by the EU and NATO has many parallels to the coalition (‘appeasement’ and then delay in opening a Western front) with Hitler to overrun Eastern Europe.

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