Jack Donnelly states that “Theories are beacons, lenses of filters that direct us to what, according to the theory, is essential for understanding some part of the world.” These various theories, or lenses for viewing the world help us understand the way in which countries interact and why things occur in the field of international relations. The two main schools of thought in the field are Realism and Liberalism. One must understand these theories in order to be able to understand what is happening in the world. Understanding the filters that are Liberalism and Realism, one can look to make some sort of understanding as to what is happening right now between the Ukraine and Russia. The subsequent annexation of the province of Crimea by Russia is of paramount importance to multi governmental organisations like the United Nations and the European Union who are looking to understand this event from the Realist perspective as well as the Liberal paradigm.
To be able to apply the Realist and Liberalist theories, we must first know what has happened in the Ukraine to date. In late November of last year, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich abandoned the possibility of a free trade agreement with the European Union and has instead opted for closer co-operation with Moscow. The political crisis that followed soon after was a bloody and brutal one as witnessed when, on the 20th of February Kiev saw its worst days of violence for 70 years as 88 people were killed in the space of 48 hours. President Yanukovich was removed formally removed from parliament on the 22nd of February through the Ukrainian parliament voting 328-0 to impeach him replacing him with Oleksandr Turchynov. The Ukrainian revolution took a turn when key buildings in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, were seized by pro-Russian gunmen. Two weeks following this, there was a referendum held in Crimea in which 97% of people voted to become part of Russia which was recognised by the Russian president Vladimir Putin who on the 18th of March signed a bill to formally absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation.
Realism is a theoretical approach to international relations which emphasises countries as the most important players. Realists also believe that the most significant processes which occur in global politics are conflict based. Prominent Realist scholar Niccolo Machiavelli wrote that, “Promises must be broken when there is an interest to do so.” This ties in well with the common realist assumption that all states are self-interested and act only according to these national interests in an attempt to gain power over other nation states. Realists view the global political landscape as anarchic and maintain that, “the possibility of conflict is ever present,”
Now we have a grasp of the pessimistic Realist outlook on the world, this particular lens can be used to analyse what is happening in Crimea. According to Christopher Spencer, “Vladimir Putin has calculated that he possesses...