Looking to get caught up on what has been happening and why in the Crimea and Ukraine? We’ve been very fortunate here at The Monkey Cage to have a wide range of scholars offer their thoughts and analysis. Here’s a brief highlight of some of the materials from the past week split into three loose categories: motivation for Russia’s actions; possible ways out of the crisis and how the West ought to respond; and additional information about Ukraine and Crimea that has not been as widely reported on elsewhere.
- Several scholars weighed in about the role of Russian nationalism in explaining Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior. Maria Snegovaya, a Columbia University doctoral candidate in political science, pointed to sources of Putin’s world view in his preferred reading list of Russian nationalist philosophers. Akos Lada , a doctoral candidate in political economy and government at Harvard University, suggested that the conflict was better interpreted not as a clash between civilizations, but rather within one. University of Oklahoma political scientist Paul Goode addressed both the advantages and disadvantages of viewing the crisis from a nationalist perspective.
- We had two competing posts on the importance of viewing Russia’s actions as part of a larger “greater-Russia” project. Georgetown University political scientist Steven Ward highlighted the advantages (especially in terms of a policy response) to seeing the Russia’s actions in Crimea as part of a larger goal to re-establish Russia’s great power status, while political scientists R. William Ayres (Wright State University) and Stephen M. Saideman (Carleton University) suggested that Crimea was sufficiently different from other cases so as to belong in its own category.
Ways out of the crisis
- There were two commentaries on the viability of greater decentralization within Ukraine as a way out of the crisis, one from Oxford University political scientist Gwendolyn Sasse, and another from Columbia University political scientist Timothy Frye.
- Numerous guests posts addressed the possible menu of responses from the west. Columbia University political scientist Kimberly Marten, explained how sanctions might affect Russia, noting that the political ramifications might be more important than the economic ones, at least in the short term. James Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University, declared the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations dead and urged isolation instead. Georgetown University political scientist Daniel Nexon took this one step further, asking whether Obama or Putin ought to be blamed for the failure of the reset. The Monkey Cage’s own Erik Voeten described the role that can still be played by international institutions in addressing the crisis, both now and in the future.
Information on Ukraine and Crimea
- Two posts used data to point out similarities between western and eastern Ukraine that seemed to be lost in the rush to picture the two halves of the country as distinct entities. Harvard University political scientist Pippa Norris showed that east and west Ukrainians had similar views on democracy, while Ralph Clem, an emeritus professor of geography at Florida International University, showed that outside of Crimea, almost all of the counties and cities in Ukraine have at least a plurality of self-declared ethnic Ukrainians.
- A number of posts focused more specifically on Crimea. Tufts University political scientist Oxana Shevel answers the question of who are the Crimean Tatars and why they are important. Political scientists Grigore Pop-Eleches (Princeton University) and Graeme Robertson (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) examine survey data from before the crisis began to examine whether Crimeans actually wanted to join Russia. London School of Economics political scientist Tomila Lankina considers reasons why Crimeans might actually be worse off under Russian rule. Flipping that question around, political scientists Helena Yakovlev-Golani and Nadiya Kravets, post-doctoral scholars at the University of Toronto and Harvard University, respectively, argue that the status quo – where Crimea remains a part of Ukraine – is actually a better outcome for Russia than independence or annexation.
- Finally, McGill University political scientist Maria Popova reminded us of the importance of not forgetting about domestic political developments in Ukraine as well.
Here’s the full list of all our previous posts on the recent events in Ukraine:
Additional commentary from the NYU Social Media and Political Participation(SMaPP) lab not at The Monkey Cage: Tweeting the Revolution: Social Media Use and the #Euromaidan Protests