Russian Vs Ukraine
For three decades, Ukraine has sought to balance its commitment to European integration with its need to align with Western institutions and bridge deep divisions within the country. The result has been a stalwart resistance that has slowed Russia’s advance across Ukraine.
When Putin launched his war in Ukraine, he hoped to use the breakaway regions as leverage to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the EU. But he failed in this effort, as Ukrainians marshaled a robust military resistance and held firm to their aspirations for a prosperous future that would also bolster democracy and the rule of law.
But Ukraine’s steadfast resolve is not only a moral challenge to Europe and the world, it also poses a profound dilemma for Vladimir Putin. In an article in Foreign Affairs in early 1994, former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote that “a healthy, stable Ukraine is a critical counterweight to Russia and the lynchpin of what should be America’s new grand strategy after the Cold War.”
Before the war, polls suggested that Ukraine’s citizens were split between those who supported Europe-oriented policies and those more committed to Russian cultural, linguistic, and religious ties. These factors helped explain why the country elected pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko in 2014 and then billionaire businessman Volodymyr Zelensky in 2022, a man who was unapologetic about opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, a flood of collaborators Moscow expected to line up in occupied territory to run oligarch-run occupation administrations did not materialize.