RUSSIA/UKRAINE CONFLICT - 1 YEAR AFTER THE ANNEXATION OF CRIMEA
24th february 2015 - London, UK
10am - 1pm
11th floor, 6 Mitre Passage, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0ER
The toppling of the pro- Russian President of Ukraine in November 2013, Ukraine's proximity policy with the European Union, through pursuing the association programme and the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO - all these developments triggered Russia’s intervention into Crimea, leading to the Crimean Parliament to call for a referendum on joining Russia.
On the 16th March 2014, a referendum was held and an overwhelming majority of voters confirmed their desire to join Russia. Russia’s annexation of Crimea was held with significant Russian military presence, which essentially broke the phase of trust between Russia and the West. Since then, events have been escalating in Eastern Ukraine. Escalation has led to the rise of military separatist’s movement in Eastern Ukraine. In July 2014, a Malaysian Airlines plane,
flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, taking the lives of 283 passengers.
Throughout the last year, there has been a continuous exchange of sanctions between the EU and Russia. From the EU perspective, the sanctions on import of EU foods to Russia amounting to around £9 billion had considerable impact on the economies of some of its members. Energy security of the Eastern members of the European Union remains a crucial factor in the EU calculations regarding any development in its relations with Russia. Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are examples of EU countries that buy currently between 70% and 100% of their gas from Russia. Now, the crisis has gone beyond Ukraine and has raised real concerns about European security.
From Russian’s perspective, the sanctions have impacted Russia largely through its financial system. Russia's Economic Minister warned last month that its GDP will shrink by 0.8 percent this year. The immediate concerns that Russia has to put up with are the declining oil price and the declining value of the Ruble. The diminishing foreign direct investment from Europe is very important to Russia, both because of the money and the technical know-how. The danger for Russia is that Moscow these days seems very ready to put what it sees as its fundamental geopolitical interests above the economy.
Now, almost one year after the annexation of Crimea it seems that both Russia and the West didn't expect that the crisis would escalate that deep. No side seems ready to reverse the course; the Eastern of Ukraine is under anarchy and the rest of the country is far from stable. These events has brought back an era that was thought to be finished in Europe by the cold war.
The crisis is limiting cooperation between the West and Russia in international conflicts. This is harming efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict and the Iranian Nuclear programme and to tackle the threat of the Islamic State. This has some significant implications on the security of Europe. The impact of the crisis is significant on both sides which raises the question of what would a diplomatic deal would look like?
- Alice Baxter, News and Business Presenter, BBC
- James Nixey, Head of Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House
- Alisa Lockwood, Head Europe/CIS Country Risk , IHS
- Lord Davies of Stamford, Member of the House of Lords
- Professor Bill Bowing, Barrister and Professor of Human Rights and International Law
- Anatolii Solovei, Head of the Political Section, Ukraine Embassy, London
11th Floor, 6 Mitre Passage, Peninsula Square - London SE10 0ER
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