As has been opined earlier, neo-realism provides for survival and security amidst tense and anarchic conditions. For Kremlin, Ukraine’s campaign is about more than just invading Ukraine. By it, Russia wants to ensure its strategic and security interests among others. The supposed and possible eastward expansion of the Western order through the penetration of its key organizations like Nato and EU in the whole Eurasian region will bring the geopolitical and geo-strategic position of Moscow down.
The Western presence in the region will definitely provide for Russian Containment as is in the case of China in East Asia through Quad and AUKUS among others. In short, both the internal and external positions of Moscow will be put on stake if the US-led West exists in Russian neighbors. Neo-realistically, this is the reason why Russia has flexed and stretched its muscles in the region against the unilateral and concerned Eastward move of Nato. Therefore, the ongoing Russian campaign in Ukraine is declared to be a rational one from a neo-realist point of view as the main purpose is to ensure its survival and security in the wake of NATO’s unstoppable eastward enlargement.
As far as the question of the feasibility of the Russian move towards Ukraine is concerned, it may be proved reliable and feasible in the light of some historical events. The Winter War broke out in 1940 between the then Soviet Union and Finland. Throughout the war, the Finish resistance and defence had been remarkable. The apparent loss of the then USSR was frequently and unequivocally reported, but the end of the war had a different and startling anecdote to tell. The Finnish policy towards Russia adopted a conciliatory approach which was not seen before.
Finland drastically and blatantly reduced its pro-western outreach
Similarly, the growing dependency of West as well as the rest of the world, I.e., Iran, India and OPEC among others, on Russian oil and gas has added to the Russian power. Those who perceive Russia’s loss in Ukraine are quite much oblivion of this very liability of the World on Russia. Ukraine’s desire for NATO’S membership has gone long away as Germany and France among other key members are not in favour of extending Nato’s membership to Ukraine due to their dependency on Russia for their energy requirements.
Likewise, the Member Action Plan for Nato’s membership has not been handed over to Ukraine because the military of Ukraine is not so much powerful and strong as to contribute to the Nato’s collective security concept under its Article 6. Moreover, the poor law and order situations, poverty, corruption and the loose control over its territories like Crimea and Donbas have portrayed Ukraine incapable of joining Nato.
It is undoubtedly to say that the fall of the former Soviet Union paved the way for a sole international power, the U.S, and made Russia enable to emerge as the strongest amongst all the former Soviet states. Russia had yet to become an undeniable international player due to its struggling economy. Putin silently worked on the revival of Russian economy through exploiting its energy and other natural resources until it became stable thereby galvanizing the Putin’s Russia to resurge. Russia retaliated in an aggressive way over the alleged and unilateral eastward expansion of Nato.
Meanwhile, the US-led West astounded by finding itself into a new order of multi polarity with rise of China and resurgent Russia. China had trespassed the U.S. in GDP par capita and GNP during the 2010s, which had warned against the possible dominance of China in International system. Therefore, the US and its allies shifted their focus towards East Asia in order to encircle and contain the economically( then) rising China.
Read more: Timeline of Ukraine War
Washington devised its Pivot Asia policy to provide for Chinese Containment through encircling it while entering into different economic, security and diplomatic pacts. Trump’s National Security Strategy (2017) categorically declared rising China and resurgent Russia as threats to its interests in the international system. However, the containment of China is more focused than that of the Russian one which can be made clear by the degree of activity and intensity of QUAD and AUKUS among others. Thus, this very shift towards East Asia has provided a vacuum for Russia to realize its national interests in Eurasia. This is how Russia has turned its Ukraine’s campaign into a win-win assignment.
Neo-Liberalism: A possible Way Forward
An antithesis to Neo-Realism is unequivocally presented by the neo-liberal concept. This is also one of the key drivers of the International politico-economic system though apparently to a considerable extent. Liberalism opines that human nature is cooperative and altruistic in lieu of being selfish and whimsical considered by the classical realists. The neo-liberalist school of thought though accepts the anarchic order of the International System and resigns itself to the efforts for finding a durable solution to the disordered international system. It believes that the anarchic order may be set aside via adopting a cooperative approach.
Neo-liberalists advocate for global and regional organizations to promote mutual cooperation and understanding. Woodrow Wilson who is famous for his well-known Fourteen-Point Formula proposed the establishment of a multinational organization. The League of Nations for the promotion of international peace and security. Negotiations are perceived to be the sole solution of all problems.
In the case of the Russia-Ukraine standoff, peace must be given a chance; the table of negotiations must not be left; the warring parties should listen to and respond responsibly to each other’s valid concerns. Russia must be assured of no further Nato’s eastward expansion and a written guarantee about the West’s stationed troops and weapons in areas surrounding Russia must be given that they would not be used against Russia rather they would be pulled back gradually like the former USSR had withdrawn its installed missiles in Cuba during the Cuba Missile Crisis.
Read more: Ukraine-Russia standoff and Neo-Realism
A replica of the Helenski Accords in the form of Helensky 2.0 and other pacts of mutual information sharing during the 1980s and 90s must be devised with the purpose to provide a wholesome reliable security framework thereby addressing their mutual security concerns. Finally, Russia must forego its assertive approach and pull itself out of Ukraine.
Realistically, Russia’s Ukraine warring episode has been triggered and driven by the Moscow’s growing and repeated concerns over the controversial and unstoppable Eastward expansion of Nato which is blatantly threatening the Kremlin’s regional and global interests. The alleged assertive, aggressive and belligerent approach of Russia in the wake of its militarily move towards Ukraine is categorically countered by Moscow arguing that the Eastward penetration of Nato and EU is likely to bring down the strong desire of Moscow for its regional and global interests fulfillment.
Putting it more simply is that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has been triggered and caused by the intransigent eastward move of Nato as Noam Chomsky, Henry Kissinger and many others have called upon the West to show and keep maximum restraint in the matter of its organizational move towards the areas falling under the sphere of the Russian orbit.
Finally, though overtly Russia seems to be losing, covertly Moscow is celebrating its success as Ukraine has already relinquished its quest for seeking Nato’s as well ad EU’s memberships; its rubble is getting strengthened despite being suppressed by the US-unleashed economic sanctions regime and finally, the world has not totally cut itself off Moscow by virtue of its dependency on Russian oil and gas, I.e., India has recently reached an agreement with Moscow for purchasing Russian oil.