Ukraine Test of the West

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After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the so-called republics in Luhansk and Donetsk by addressing the national-international public opinion on February 21, 2022, the Russian Army started to enter Donbass and its periphery, following the call of separatist movements. In his speech in question, “The Kiev regime is aggressive.” and “Ukraine wants to develop nuclear weapons. They need time for that, and we’re not going to give them that time.”[1] Putin gave the order to start a “Special Operation” against Ukraine in the first hours of February 24, 2022. As part of the “Special Operation”, the Russian Army carries out attacks aimed at ending Ukraine’s military capacity.

It is seen that the operation organized by Russia has two objectives. The first is the take down of the government led by the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky. The second is the creation of a federation in which Luhansk and Donetsk have gained wide autonomy and have veto power in decision-making mechanisms.

At this point, it should be emphasized that Russia’s actions are contrary to international law. Because the Moscow administration is clearly violating the United Nations (UN) Charter by ignoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. On the other hand, international organizations that encourage Ukraine and the Western World cannot go beyond taking symbolic steps and cannot make a significant move. Statements from the West are limited to expressions of condemnation and wish. Sanctions, on the other hand, are far from being a deterrent.

As it is known, the UN is the main actor with a mission for the proper functioning of the international system. However, as in the past, it also shows weakness in the face of crises today. This is due to the structure of the organization. In particular, Russia’s presence in the UN Security Council (UNSC) as a permanent member and the veto power in this context cause the UN to become ineffective. The situation in Ukraine highlights the need for reform in the UN. If reforms are not made in accordance with the needs of this age, there will be no differences from the fate of the League of Nations. Because, even in a small region, Russia continues its actions in its near abroad within the framework of the Primakov Doctrine, and the international community applies a similar appeasement policy to the Putin administration, which was applied to Adolf Hitler before the Second World War.

The main reason for the crisis is Ukraine’s desire to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Sending positive messages to Kiev for a long time, NATO states that Ukraine is not a member of the alliance in the current situation and therefore they cannot defend the country in question. As a matter of fact, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky approved this by saying, “We are left alone. Nobody wants to fight for us. They don’t want to take us into NATO, they are afraid to guarantee security.” [2] In a sense, Western actors, meeting under the umbrella of NATO, made Kiev a target of Russia with their various discourses and then told the Zelenski administration to “take care of yourself”.

The main reason for NATO to implement such a policy is the approach of the United States of America (USA), the main actor of the alliance, to the issue. In essence, Washington considers the Asia-Pacific geography to be the center of the global power struggle. Therefore, it shifts its focus to this region and prepares to fight with China in order to maintain its global leadership. However, Europe is the most important pillar of American hegemony. In other words, the USA that is not supported by Europe is like a lame duck. For this reason, the White House wants to gain the support of Europe through the common perception of the “other” and actually fill the leadership vacuum that emerged in Europe after Angela Merkel. For this, it is necessary to form an idea that Russia, the traditional other of the continent, threatens the European security architecture. In terms of Washington administration, Ukraine-based developments serve this. Therefore, when the process is examined, it is seen that the USA comes first among the actors who want war. As a matter of fact, in his statement on January 19, 2022, Joe Biden almost gave Russia the green light for war and stated that in case of a small war, small reactions would be given.[3] In other words, the Biden administration interpreted Europe’s sense of the Russian threat as a necessity for its own global goals and made statements that would encourage Russia on Ukraine. As a matter of fact, in the current situation, the USA does not take a deterrent attitude even though it mentions various sanctions against Russia. At this point, it can be said that the Washington administration is reluctant to push Moscow completely to Beijing by imposing heavy sanctions.

The actor in Europe that implements the most active policy regarding the developments in Ukraine is the UK, which left the European Union (EU) as a result of Brexit. However, the London administration, like Washington, is trying to use the process in a way that will serve its own geopolitical goals. Because in the period when diplomacy efforts came to the fore, Britain formed a triple alliance with Ukraine and Poland and focused on increasing its influence in Eastern Europe, which he described as the front line to be included in the Eurasian power struggle, through Ukraine. Therefore, this approach does not prioritize protecting the interests of Kiev. In any case, England has taken a stance that wants the war to break out throughout the period.

The EU experienced the real dilemma of the West in the Ukraine crisis. The member states of the Union, especially Germany and France, have taken a stance in favor of solving the issue through diplomatic means, with the effect of their energy dependence with Russia. However, at this point, it can be said that the USA has increased its influence on the EU. The abandonment of the Nord Stream-2 Project also confirms this. Because diplomacy did not give a solution and Germany interpreted Russia’s action against Ukraine as an attack on the international system. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Putin of endangering peace in all of Europe.[4] Despite this, the EU, like the USA, could not take a deterrent position despite resorting to sanctions diplomacy. Moreover, the energy dependence of the EU on Russia also opens up the sustainability of the sanctions to be applied.

As a result, the rising tension on the Russia-Ukraine line has evolved into a new phase with Moscow’s recognition of the Luhansk and Donetsk administrations and launching a special operation targeting Ukraine’s military capacity. In the process, the West gave an unsuccessful exam and failed the class. The USA and England left Kyiv alone, which they had encouraged in line with their geopolitical goals, and ultimately, Europe’s diplomacy efforts were inconclusive. At the current stage, while the US influence on the EU is increasing; The inadequacy of the UN in the implementation of international law has once again come to the fore.

[1] @haberglobal, “Son Dakika: Putin Tarihi Kararı Verdi! Rusya Donetsk’i ve Luhansk’ı Tanıdı!”, Youtube,, (Date of Accession: 22.02.2022).

[2] “Son Dakika: Zelenski Sitem Etti: ‘Ukrayna yalnız, Batı Sadece Vereceği Destek Hakkında Konuşuyor’”, Hürriyet,, (Date of Accession: 25.02.2022).

[3] “Biden Predicts Russia ‘Will Move in’ to Ukraine, but Says ‘Minor Incursion’ may Prompt Discussion over Consequences”, BBC,, (Date of Accession: 25.02.2022).

[4] “ABD Başkanı Biden’dan Rusya’ya “Güçlü Yaptırım Paketi””, Deutche Welle,, (Date of Accession: 25.02.2022).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.