·         Why is there conflict between Russia and Ukraine?
  • Ukraine aims for a pro-European and anti-Russian nation with a government that is focused on membership with NATO and EU.
  • In the USSR, countries received cheap gas but because the USSR is now broken up and so Russia believes there is no need to supply this cheap gas.
  • The infrastructure for gas was developed by the Ukraine for the Soviet Union using its own pipelines, engineers and workers. So, the Ukraine feel obliged to have cheaper gas prices.
  • Russia expects Ukraine to pay gas at commercial rates. In 2007-2008, Gazprom issued Ukraine with a 400% rise in prices.
What are Europe’s Worries Over This?
  • Europe depends on Russia for 25% of its gas and as the Ukraine is referred to as a transit state then this may increase Europe’s energy insecurity.


Why is Russia Concerned About its NATO Membership?
  • If Ukraine joined the NATO, then they would be allowed military bases or missile defence systems.
  • Russia is concerned that it is being encircled by formed USSR regions, e.g. Georgia.
The South Caucasus Region
  • Once part of the USSR.
  • It is situated on the geopolitical boundary involving the countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
  • There was a discovery in 1999 of natural gas in the gas field of Azerbaijan. A pipeline was opened in 2006 to bring gas to the EU and Turkey which will avoid Russia.
  • The USA and EU are keen to join this with maintaining good relations with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
How will the South Caucasus Region Weaken Russia’s Influence?
  • It will reduce economic ties with Russia and provide an alternative pathway for Europe.


Why is Russia in Crimea?
  • Russia believes they have a right to protect their Russian citizens who live in the Ukraine because of the nationalists and anti-Semites prejudice against Jewish people.
  • It has been argued that the emergence of Russia troops in Crimea is not a concern for Russian nationals but Russian seeking through force to exert influence on a country which is known as direct influence.
  • This is because of the political unrest in Ukraine which led to a new prime minister because of the people’s interest in joining the EU and NATO.


NATO’s Involvement
  • NATO has begun to get involved as they believe that Russia is threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


The USA’s Involvement
  • USA has provided $1 billion of energy subsidies as Ukraine depends on Russia for its energy supplies and President Obama has proposed further assistance in Ukraine.
  • This has led to Russia’s interest in reducing their economic dependency on the USA to 0%. This is because of the idea of the sanctions as a result of the involvement in Ukraine which would reduce trading with America and other countries as done in Iran (2004).


The EU’s Involvement
  • The EU is considering paying the $2 billion which Ukraine owes Russia in gas bills as suggested by the European Commission.
  • Gas and oil prices have risen as a result of security premium the extra cost embedded in the price of energy as a result of insecure supply or geopolitical tension.
  • Many of the people in Europe are nervous over the effects of the gas supply because of recent turned off supply in 2008 and 2009.
  • However, since then Europe has reduced its dependence on Russia from 43% to 25% but this is still a dependency which Europe couldn’t afford to lose.