Putin And The Ukrainian Crisis: What Did He Learn From Government 5?

1636 words - 7 pages


Gov 5 Winter 2014

Based on his actions during the 2014 Ukraine crisis, Vladimir Putin would have earned an A in Government 5. The ongoing crisis is filled with power politics and the balance of power between Russia and Western Europe. The issue comes down to looking at the benefits and harms of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, and from the concepts we learned in Government 5 we can see that Putin is effectively minimizing harm while increasing his power showing how much he has learned from Government 5. In this paper, I will argue that Putin would have earned an A in Government 5 because he is protecting his country by acquiring more regional power, he is effectively using ...view middle of the document...

Currently, the US is considered the greatest power or “Hegemon” so for Putin this is troubling because a rival country has more power than his meaning that the best way to counteract the power of the US is to first establish firm control over a region (such as Eastern Europe) to force the rival power to surrender trying to expand its influence to countries near his border. The US has done similar actions in the past when it first established the “Monroe Doctrine” that says that the US will take action if European nations try to interfere with the domestic affairs of countries in North or South America. By establishing firm influence on Ukraine, Putin is both gaining his power relative to his rival powers and preventing his rival powers from taking advantage of him by making sure that neighboring countries do not turn against him (Mearsheimer, “Anarchy” 35). Putin must have also realized that international institutions such as the UN would oppose his actions, but being a good student of Mearsheimer he knows that international institutions have little influence on the behavior of countries so these international institutions can denounce his actions but this will not influence whether or not countries actually take action (Mearsheimer, “False” 7). Putin must have been ignoring Professor Press when Press was telling his students that we should not subscribe ourselves to only realist, constructivist, or insitutionalist theories, but Putin’s actions show that he has a good understanding of realist theory and this small power move in Ukraine is an example of that.
The second reason why Putin would earn an A in Government 5 is because he is using Russia’s nuclear weapons to discourage conflict. With Russia being a nuclear weapon state, the likelihood that it will have a major military conflict between other countries such as the US, Britain, or France is low allowing Russia to intervene in Ukraine without fearing any major military opposition. Nuclear weapons have a unique ability to “stalemate” two countries that possess them because nuclear weapons have a huge amount of destructive power per bomb (Lecture, 2/10). Nuclear war is also not in the interest of countries because in an all-out war no country would win or profit from it (Jervis, “Political” 80). Even if one country were to come victorious from nuclear war, all of the costs would outweigh the benefits (Jervis, “Political” 83). Knowing this, Putin can predict that no major power that has nuclear weapons would engage in a military conflict with Russia because this would risk escalation to nuclear war and so Russia can make this power move without fearing that the US or NATO would engage in a conflict with Russia. In fact, nuclear weapons have forced countries to avoid confrontations because of this risk of escalation and so countries would only risk nuclear war if the incentives to do so were high (Jervis, “Political” 88). In the case of Ukraine, neither the US or EU have a great incentive in...

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