Brookings Scholars on the Ukraine/Crimea Crisis, 3/25/14

The U.S. Congress is considering legislation to aid Ukraine, while President Obama is in Europe this week for a long-planned trip. Brookings experts continue to offer commentary and recommendations on the unfolding challenges. See previous editions of this roundup herehere, and here.

Putin is not going to back down on Crimea. It’s more likely he moves ahead on other parts of Ukraine and probably elsewhere. We’re not going to formally declare that we accept that?

Clifford Gaddy, senior fellow and co-author of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, to USA Today

Nonresident Senior Fellow Daniel Goldwyn, who works with the Energy Security Initiative at Brookings, testified today to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the foreign policy aspects of natural gas exports.

During his testimony, Goldwyn addressed the cumbersome process for reviewing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, noting that:

The crisis in Ukraine should cause us to think anew on this process and see if we can leverage our natural gas bounty to help our allies by accelerating the consideration of export applications so that they can plan for the day when they can reduce their reliance on Russian gas or on the oil-linked prices that are crippling their economies. In addition, we should begin now to compete actively with Russia for Asia’s markets before we cede that region as well to dependence on Russian supply.

Goldwyn also spoke about Europe’s energy security, or insecurity, position in relation to Russian gas exports. “[A]s Western Europe has enjoyed progress,” he said, “Central and Eastern Europe remain heavily dependent on Russia for their energy supplies, with some NATO allies, like Bulgaria and Lithuania, wholly dependent on Russian gas. This situation has become starkly clear in the wake of
the ongoing events in Crimea.”

Read his full testimony on the committee’s website. (pdf)

Javier Solana, a distinguished fellow at Brookings and former EU high representative for foreign and security policy, secretary-general of NATO, and foreign minister of Spain, writes that “With the vote to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation illegal by any reckoning, the international community, as the EU has declared, cannot accept the outcome.”

Solana called for a free and fair Ukrainian presidential election in May; an OSCE mission to monitor the situation in Ukraine’s Russophone east; and economic aid to Kyiv. “Russia will not skimp on spending after annexing Crimea,” he writes,

and Crimeans will benefit from that aid and access to cheap energy. Though the tourism industry is likely to be moribund for some time, Russian subsidies may leave Crimeans relatively better off, especially from the perspective of their ethnic kin in eastern Ukraine. EU and Western aid packages will need to take this into account.

The problem of Crimea will not be resolved quickly. Though Putin declared in his annexation speech that Crimea is an “inseparable part” of Russia, his behavior will turn against him. He and Russia will suffer international isolation, while Ukrainians are likely to become even more insistent on choosing their own path.


Thomas Wright

, a fellow with the

Project on International Order and Strategy

, explains why the Ukraine crisis puts globalization at risk.

The Ukraine crisis shows that at a moment of high tension the major powers will use the leverage they gain from interdependence as a weapon against each other. Thus, this week, the United States imposed sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs. Russia is employing its own economic weapons against Ukraine and is reportedly considering retaliation of its own against the European Union and America.

The logical response to the prospect of economic warfare is for states and major companies to hedge against the risk of vulnerabilities created by interdependence. They will adopt a strategic approach to integration—pursuing it where it works to their benefit, but stepping away from it when it exposes them to potential actions by a hostile government. This will be a sea change in international economic policy and U.S. grand strategy more generally.


Here is some of what Brookings scholars are saying on Twitter:

See our

research and commentary archive on Ukraine