Russian Perceptions of the Ukrainian Crisis: From Confrontation to Damage Limitation?
According to the Russian classic, there are two Russian ‘perennial questions’: Who is guilty? And what should be done? While the answer to the first question is clear to the Kremlin (of course, it’s the West - the U.S. and EU – who should be blamed for the Ukrainian crisis), the second question is still open to argument. This paper argues that the Ukrainian crisis will inevitably entail an essential revision of the Russian foreign policy’s conceptual/doctrinal basis. It also will result in changing Moscow’s regional priorities. Particularly, Russia will pay more attention to its relations with the ‘near abroad’ trying to repair its poor/negative image, prevent its authority from further weakening in the post-Ukrainian era and shift political alliances in the post-Soviet territory to its benefit. In parallel, Moscow will try to redesign the current system of Russia-led institutions in the post-Soviet space (CIS, Collective Security Treaty Organization, etc.) which proved to be inefficient during the Ukrainian crisis. The emphasis will be made on the economic aspects of integration, including the Customs Union and its further transformation to the Eurasian Union. Russia’s relations with the West and its major institutions (EU and NATO) will be redefined in a more realistic and pragmatic way with the aim to make the country less dependent on the oil and gas exports to the West and Western technologies and investment imports. At the same time, the Kremlin will make emphasis on the further development of its ‘strategic partnership’ with China and cooperation with and within non-Western institutions, such as BRICS, RIC, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN, African Union, Islamic Conference Organization, etc.