Territorial disputes: Crimea (Part 2) [Post 67]

Crimea and a multi-perspective analysis

Crimea as a TERRITORIAL DISPUTE has many layers. It is clear there are domestic, regional and international issues at stake. Historical, sociological, ethnical and religious ties are present. Domestic political prestige is one of the reasons why this (and many other) TERRITORIAL DISPUTE remain in a political and legal limbo. 

To assume all political parties want the best for their people is not realistic (and naïve). Domestic political prestige is an important motivator to start and maintain TERRITORIAL DISPUTES.  Geostrategic location is key for many parties (not only Russia and Ukraine). There are many powers alien to the dispute with a variety of interests. Moreover, they are more interested in keeping the dispute on a status quo (ongoing) basis than achieving a solution because this situation offers them a better return, a higher payoff. 

An article published by the Croatian International Relations Review in 2017 takes a multi-perspective analysis of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine in terms of Crimea. The abstract and the conclusions below summarize the answers to the questions posed by our previous post (Post 66). The link to the complete article follows.

Russia and the Ukrainian Crisis:

A Multiperspective Analysis of Russian Behaviour, by Taking into Account NATO’s and the EU’s Enlargement

by Maximilian Klotz


This article will explain why Russia annexed Crimea and is destabilizing eastern Ukraine. To do this, three different theoretical approaches on various levels of analysis will be used. It will be examined how far the expansion of NATO, as well as that of the European Union (Theory of Neorealism), was a motive for Russia’s action. NATO’s enlargement is analysed predominantly. In addition, political-psychological motivations of the Russian leadership are considered. But it is also analysed whether Russia’s pure power interests have played a role (Theory of Realism). The focus here is on the Russian naval base in Crimea. It is necessary to examine whether preserving its fleet in the Black Sea was a motive for Moscow to annex the Crimean peninsula.”


The analysis shows that with the Russian naval base in Crimea, at least the annexation of this – and the port city of Sevastopol – by Russia can be explained. The analysis of Russia maintaining its military strength, at the analytical level of the state, was particularly revealing. 

On the other hand, the expansion of NATO and the EU appears to (partly) explain Russian behaviour. In both cases, the Russian course of action was not clearly explained by the eastward enlargement of both Western institutions. In addition, Ukrainian membership of NATO, in the near future, may be considered unlikely. With regard to the EU, it has only been in the last few years that Russia has worried more about its own economy and about its Eurasian Union. Accordingly, Russia tried to prevent further economic and political rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU. Overall, the results of the analysis at the level of the system were less clear. 

The construction of an enemy image of the West could be demonstrated. This, in fact, seems to serve to project domestic mischief to the outside. For the time being, this attempt by the Russian leadership may be described as successful. The hypothesis can be confirmed quite clearly. 

Further steps by Russia, in the sense of an extension of its territory, cannot be ruled out, but they seem to be unlikely. With its aggressive behaviour, Russia has first of all certainly achieved one thing: The West has also experienced an increased “internal cohesion” (Maćków 2015: 98). The European states, although faced with internal political challenges, are increasing their military spending – and NATO is experiencing a “new right to exist” (Lukjanow 2016).”

Complete text available at

Russia and the Ukrainian Crisis

NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST: What do Crimeans want?

Tuesday 18th February 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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