Background to the conflict in Ukraine

March 15, 2022


With the war in Ukraine dominating headlines the world over, two leading experts on Russia and Ukraine offered their perspectives on the conflict in an online talk on March 15th 2022. This is a recording of the event.

Ukraine & Russia: from “civilised divorce” to uncivil war

When Ukraine and Russia signed a new treaty disbanding the Soviet Union in 1991, some referred to it as a “Civilized Divorce.” However, Russia never fully accepted Ukraine’s independence, and has spent the time since 1991 trying to reverse or limit it in various ways. As time went on, this disagreement became embedded in a much larger disagreement between Russia and the West about the rules and the boundaries in post-Cold War Europe. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and sponsored a separatist rebellion in Eastern Ukraine that continues today.

Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, is there a way out of this war which meets the minimal demands of Russia, Ukraine, and the West?​

Professor Paul D’Anieri, Vice-Chancellor, University of California, Riverside

The Current Crisis with Russia: How Did We Get Here and Is There a Way to Prevent Other Confrontations Like This One?

The confrontation between Russia and the West over Ukraine earlier this year was, at that time, Europe’s worst crisis since the end of the Cold War. Now with Russia’s shock invasion of Ukraine, there is potential for the war to spill over into a NATO member state. That would make for a wider European war and possibly a face-off between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

What does this crisis mean for Ukraine’s future trajectory? How are we to understand the current context and historical background to this crisis, and what lessons, if any, can be drawn as regards the future security of Europe. Can we imagine a different, less crisis-prone European order? If so, what might it look like, and how can we create it? These question will be addressed by putting this crisis in larger historical perspective, starting in 1991, with a quick, scene-setting survey.

Professor Emeritus, Rajan Menon, City University of New York

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