Recently, there have been many apocalyptic and crude texts about how the situation in Ukraine will develop further. Unfortunately, most of them are limited to retelling already known, or often fictional or far-fetched facts.
We offer you an analysis of the situation made by experts of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, based primarily on the motivation of key players in the current crisis: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia.
Logic/motivation of the Russian Federation
- “Imperial syndrome” and the desire to restore the empire, based on the logic of returning to the agreements signed at the end of World War II.
- Russia lags five to six years behind China and the United States in technological aspects in all key areas of development of the economy of the future. Bridging the gap is impossible without new technologies. According to the Kremlin‘s logic, one of the most important factors in gaining access to new technologies is aggravation of the situation and enforcement of negotiations with Russia, which should result, in particular, in mitigation of sanctions and transfer of certain technologies.
- The second factor in lifting the sanctions is the transformation of Russia into an indispensable and largely monopoly position in the energy and partly security sector for much of Eurasia. Hence there is the desire to control not only Kazakhstan but, last but not least, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (immediately after the Kazakh operation, these countries were discussed vigorously in the Russian media).
- Human resource: Russia lacks people for future wars and the development of its economy, judging from the territories.
- The desire to persuade the West to agree on the “Ukrainian issue,” for example through the implementation of the Minsk agreements, to begin establishing its “red lines,” at least in the near future, and to accept Russia’s role as an equal partner of the West in strategic stability and regional security.
At the same time, Russia cannot add Ukraine into its economic contour so far as protests will erupt, and Russia does not have enough resources. Ukraine is now not an asset, but neutralisation of a threat for Russia. To do this, they need a change in vector, a change in government, agreements with the West not to deploy offensive weapons in the territory of Ukraine.
Logic/motivation of the United States
- The motivation of the United States is to remain at the core of the entire Western world system, while essentially maintaining the current status quo. The United States seeks to “freeze” relations with European allies (and not just allies) to free up resources for China.
- With regard to regional ambitions, it is important for the United States to complete the formation of proxy unions, including the Three Seas Initiative with the special status of Poland.
- For the United States, there is no critical need to knock Russia out as a state. Ukraine still remains not only a field for manoeuvre, but also a field for bidding.
- The aggravation of relations with Germany against the background of Berlin’s reluctance to play in the American scenario in relation to Russia is quite unexpected for the United States. In fact, this is another front for the United States, for which official Washington is not yet ready. Ukraine’s positions are secondary here, too.
- Technocratisation of negotiations with Russia, reaching agreements on minor technical issues instead of negotiating the fundamental things that the Russians raise. Here, the issue of Ukraine can become a main compromise at the negotiations.
Now, the United States has begun to play a hybrid information war with Russia on the principle of “casus belli” – whatever Russia does, it will be seen as a provocation. And this is a big advantage for Ukraine because the entire collective West will be forced to respond to any, even minor actions of the Russian Federation in relation to Kyiv. On the positive side, President Biden’s rating, which has collapsed, including due to the failure in Afghanistan, forces him to play the game “I stopped World War III” for the domestic consumer. And the outcome of this game will determine, in the short term, who will control both houses of the U.S. Congress.
It should be noted that the United States is trying to turn the current conflict into an economic victory: high gas and oil prices already favour the U.S. economy but, in the medium term, the United States will try to edge Russia’s gas monopoly out through domestic and Qatari energy resources.
Logic/motivation of the United Kingdom
- To lead the anti-Russian discourse in Europe, becoming one of the toughest Western countries in relation to Russia. This is a way to find a new role for Britain after Brexit, following the “Global Britain” concept.
- To bolster its influence on the countries of Central and Eastern and Northern Europe, taking the opportunity to demonstrate an autonomous position that differs from the rest of Europe and is closer to the positions of the Baltic states and Poland. Here the Britons compete with the Americans.
- Taking advantage of the crisis, to show utmost activity in this area, while political scandals are raging around Prime Minister Boris Johnson inside Britain, threatening with resignation.
Logic/motivation of Germany
- Agree with Russia on acceptable terms to avoid escalation in Ukraine and the deteriorating security situation in Europe.
- Avoid the threat of large-scale sanctions that will hit European banks and investors, and thus create significant problems for German and European businesses at a time when Europe is experiencing post-COVID socio-economic problems.
- Do not allow the United States to dictate the terms of negotiations with Russia instead of Europeans, so that security issues in the EU do not become the subject of separate US-Russia negotiations.
Vadym Denysenko, Executive Director, Ukrainian Institute for the Future; Iliya Kusa, International Politics Expert, Ukrainian Institute for the Future;
Igor Tyshkevich, Expert in Programs for International and Domestic Policy, Ukrainian Institute for the Future; Igor Popov, Senior Expert, Ukrainian Institute for the Future