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Russia–Ukraine relations

Russia–Ukraine relations
Map indicating locations of Russia and Ukraine



Russia–Ukraine relations (Russian: Российско-украинские отношения, Ukrainian: Українсько-російські відносини) were transitioned into international during 1990s immediately upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union of which both had been founding constituent republics. Established sometime in the 17th century, the relations were discontinued upon liquidation of Cossack Hetmanate's autonomy by the Catherine the Great in the 18th century. For a short period of time the relations were reinstated during the World War I, soon after the Communist October Revolution. In 1920 Ukraine was overrun by Soviet Russia and relations between the two states transitioned from international to internal ones within the Soviet Union.

On 10 February 2015, the Verkhovna Rada registered a draft decree on suspending diplomatic relations with Russia.[1]

Russia has an embassy in Kiev and consulates in Kharkiv, Lviv, and Odessa. Ukraine has an embassy in Moscow and consulates in Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen and Vladivostok. The Ukrainian ambassador to Russia has been called off since March 2014.[2]

Intergovernmental relations between the two countries are complex and since 1991 underwent periods of ties, tensions, and outright hostility. Prior to Euromaidan, under Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich (February 2010–February 2014), relations were cooperative, with various trade agreements in place.[3][4][5][6] After the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, which saw the pro-Russian Yanukovych ousted on 21 February 2014, relations between Russia and Ukraine deteriorated rapidly: the administration in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was swiftly replaced with one which demanded unification of Crimea with the Russian Federation and demonstrators seized or attempted to seize control of administrative buildings in the Donbass and southern Ukraine. In March 2014, the Russian Federation annexed Crimea following a disputed referendum. Throughout March and April 2014, pro-Russian unrest spread with pro-Russian "People's Republics" being proclaimed in Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine suspended military cooperation with, and exports to, Russia[7] Military clashes between pro-Russian rebels with Russian mercenaries and the Armed Forces of Ukraine began in the East of the country in April 2014. On 5 September 2014,[8] a tentative truce (ceasefire) agreement between the Ukrainian government and representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic was signed; the ceasefire definitively imploded amidst intense new fighting in January 2015. A new ceasefire agreement has been in place since mid-February 2015.

Some analysts believe that the current Russian leadership is determined to prevent an equivalent of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in Russia. This perspective is supposed to explain not only Russian domestic policy but its sensitivity to events abroad.[9] Many in Ukraine and beyond believe that Russia has periodically used its vast energy resources to bully its smaller, dependent neighbour, but the Russian government argues it was the internal squabbling amongst Ukraine's political elite that is to blame for the deadlock.[10] The conflict in Ukraine and the alleged role of Russia in it greatly escalated tensions in the relationship between Russia and major Western powers, especially relations between Russia and the US, which caused observers to characterize those in 2014 as assuming an adversarial nature, or the advent of Cold War II.[11][12][13]


  • History of relations 1
    • Kievan Rus' 1.1
    • Muscovy and Russian Empire 1.2
    • Soviet Union 1.3
    • Independent Ukraine 1.4
      • 1990s 1.4.1
      • 2000s 1.4.2
        • Second Tymoshenko Government
      • 2010s 1.4.3
        • Viktor Yanukovych Presidency
        • Euromaidan
  • Border 2
  • Armaments and aerospace industries linked 3
  • Popular opinion 4
    • In Russia 4.1
    • In Ukraine 4.2
  • Treaties 5
  • Territorial claims 6
    • Claims by the Russian Federation (former and current) 6.1
    • Claims by Ukraine 6.2
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

History of relations

Kievan Rus'

Ukraine and Russia share much of their history. Kiev, the modern capital of Ukraine, is often referred to as a mother of Russian Cities or a cradle of the Rus' civilisation owing to the once powerful Kievan Rus' state, a predecessor of both Russian and Ukrainian nations.[14]

Muscovy and Russian Empire

After the Mongol invasion of Rus the histories of the Russian and Ukrainian people's started to diverge.[15] The former, having successfully united all the remnants of the Rus' northern provinces, swelled into a powerful Russian state. The latter came under the domination of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Within the Commonwealth, the militant Zaporozhian Cossacks refused polonization, and often clashed with the Commonwealth government, controlled by the Polish nobility. Unrest among the Cossacks caused them to rebel against the Commonwealth and seek union with Russia, with which they shared much of the culture, language and religion. which was eventually formalized through the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654.[16] From the mid-17th century Ukraine was gradually absorbed into the Russian Empire, which was completed in the late 18th century with the Partitions of Poland. Soon afterward in the late 18th century the Cossack host was forcibly disbanded by the Empire, with most of the population relocated to the Kuban region in the South edge of the Russian Empire, where the Cossacks served a valuable role of defending the Empire against the fierce Caucasian tribes

Soviet Union

Leonid Perfetsky picture representing a conflict between the soldiers of Ukrainian Galician Army and Volunteer Army in the streets of Kiev during their joint operation against the Bolsheviks, under the command of General Denikin, Aug 1919.[17]
Usually associated with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the transfer of Crimea was adopted by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet chaired by Kliment Voroshilov

The February Revolution saw establishment of official relations between the Russian Provisional Government and the Ukrainian Central Rada that was represented at the Russian government by its commissar Petro Stebnytsky. At the same time Dmitriy Odinets was appointed the representative of Russian Affairs in the Ukrainian government. After the Soviet military aggression by the Soviet government at the beginning of 1918, Ukraine declared its full independence from the Russian Republic. The two treaties of Brest-Litovsk that Ukraine and Russia signed separately with the Central Powers calmed the military conflict between them and peace negotiations were initiated the same year.

After the end of the World War I, Ukraine became a battleground in the Russian Civil War and both Russians and Ukrainians fought in nearly all armies based on their political belief.[18]

In 1922, Ukraine and Russia were two of the founding members of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and were the signatories of the treaty that terminated the union in December 1991.[19]

In 1932-1933 Ukraine experienced the Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор, "Extermination by hunger" or "Hunger-extermination"; derived from 'Морити голодом', "Killing by Starvation") which was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic that killed up to 7.5 million Ukrainians. During the famine, which is also known as the "Terror-Famine in Ukraine" and "Famine-Genocide in Ukraine", millions of citizens of Ukrainian SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by the independent Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. Scholars disagree on the relative importance of natural factors and bad economic policies as causes of the famine and the degree to which the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin. Using Holodomor in reference to the famine emphasizes its man-made aspects, arguing that actions such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide; the loss of life has been compared to the Holocaust. If Soviet policies and actions were conclusively documented as intending to eradicate the rise of Ukrainian nationalism, they would fall under the legal definition of genocide. In the absence of absolute documentary proof of intent, scholars have also made the argument that the Holodomor was ultimately a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of liquidation of private property and Soviet industrialization.

On 13 January 2010, Kiev Appellate Court posthumously found Stalin, Kaganovich, Molotov, Kosior, Chubar and other Soviet Communist Party functionaries guilty of genocide against Ukrainians during the Holodomor famine.[20]

Independent Ukraine


Embassy of Russia in Kiev
Embassy of Ukraine in Moscow

After both Ukraine and Russia terminated the union several acute disputes formed between the two countries. The former one was the question of the Crimea which the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic had administered since 1954. This however was largely resolved in an agreement that allowed for Crimea to remain part of Ukraine, provided its Autonomous Republic status is preserved.

The second major dispute of the 1990s was the city of Sevastopol, with its base of the Black Sea Fleet. During the fall of the Soviet state the city along with the rest of Ukraine participated in the national referendum for independence of Ukraine where 58% of its population voted for the succession of the city in favour of the Ukrainian state, yet the Supreme Soviet of Russia voted to reclaim the city as its territory in 1993. After several years of intense negotiations, in 1997 the whole issue was resolved by partitioning the Black Sea Fleet and leasing some of the naval bases in Sevastopol to the Russian Navy until 2017.

Another major dispute was related to the energy supplies, as several Soviet—Western Europe oil and gas pipelines ran through Ukraine. Later after new treaties came into effect, Ukraine's gas debt arrears to Russia were paid off by transfer of some nuclear-capable weapons that Ukraine inherited from the USSR, to Russia such as the Tu-160 strategic bombers.[21] During the 1990s both countries along with other ex-Soviet states founded the Commonwealth of Independent States and large business partnerships came into effect.

While the Russian share in Ukraine’s exports declined from 26.2 percent in 1997 to around 23 percent in 1998-2000, the share of imports held steady at 45-50 percent of the total. Overall, between one third and one half of Ukraine’s trade was with the Russian Federation. Dependence was particularly strong in energy. Up to 70-75 percent of annually consumed gas and close to 80 percent of oil came from Russia. On the export side, too, dependence was significant. Russia remained Ukraine’s primary market for ferrous metals, steel plate and pipes, electric machinery, machine tools and equipment, food, and products of chemical industry. It has been a market of hope for Ukraine’s high value-added goods, more than nine tenths of which were historically tied to the Russian consumer. Old buyers gone by 1997, Ukraine had experienced a 97-99 percent drop in production of industrial machines with digital control systems, television sets, tape recorders, excavators, cars and trucks. At the same time, and in spite of the postcommunist slowdown, Russia came out as the fourth-largest investor in the Ukrainian economy after the USA, Netherlands, and Germany, having contributed $150.6 million out of $2.047 billion in foreign direct investment that Ukraine had received from all sources by 1998.[22]


Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma in December 2003.

Although disputes prior to the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 were present including the speculations regarding accidental shooting down of a Russian airliner by the Ukrainian military and the controversy with the Tuzla Island, relations with Russia under the latter years of Leonid Kuchma improved. In 2002, the Russian Government participated in financing the construction of the Khmelnytsky and the Rivne nuclear power plants.[23] However, after the Orange Revolution several problems resurfaced including a gas dispute, and Ukraine's bid to join NATO.

The overall perception of relations with Russia in Ukraine differs largely on regional factors. Many Russophone eastern and southern regions, which are also home to the majority of the Russian diaspora in Ukraine welcome closer relations with Russia.[24] However further central and particularly western regions (who were never a part of Imperial Russia) of Ukraine show a less friendly attitude to the idea of a historic link to Russia[25][26][27][28] and the Soviet Union in particular.[29]

Russia has no intention of annexing any country.

Russian President Putin (24 December 2004)[30]
In Russia, there is no regional breakdown in the opinion of Ukraine,[31] but on the whole, Ukraine's recent attempts to join the EU and NATO were seen as change of course to only a pro-Western, anti-Russian orientation of Ukraine and thus a sign of hostility and this resulted in a drop of Ukraine's perception in Russia[32] (although Ukrainian President Yushchenko reassured Russia that joining NATO it is not meant as an anti-Russian act,[33] and Putin said that Russia would welcome Ukraine's membership in the EU[34]). This was further fuelled by the public discussion in Ukraine of whether the Russian language should be given official status[35] and be made the second state language.[36][37] During the 2009 gas conflict the Russian media almost uniformly portrayed Ukraine as an aggressive and greedy state that wanted to ally with Russia’s enemies and exploit cheap Russian gas.[38]

Further worsening of relations was provoked by belligerent statements made in 2007–2008 by both Russian (e.g. the Russian Foreign Ministry,[39] the Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov[40] and then President Vladimir Putin[33][41]) and Ukrainian politicians, for example, the former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk,[42] deputy Justice Minister of Ukraine Evhen Kornichuk[43] and then leader of parliamentary opposition Yulia Tymoshenko.[44]

The status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol remained a matter of disagreement and tensions.[31][45]

Second Tymoshenko Government
Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yushchenko in February 2008

In February 2008 Russia unilaterally withdrew from the Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental agreement on SPRN signed in 1997.[46]

During the Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defence + Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko coalition in the Ukrainian parliament during September 2008[48] (on 16 December 2008 the coalition did remerge with a new coalition partner, the Lytvyn Bloc[49]).

During the 2008 South Ossetia war, relations with Russia also deteriorated over the new Ukrainian regulations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet such as the demand that Russia obtain prior permission when crossing the Ukrainian border, which Russia refused to comply with.[50][51]

On 2 October 2008, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of supplying arms to Georgia during the South Ossetia War. Putin also claimed that Moscow had evidence proving that Ukrainian military experts were present in the conflict zone during the war. Ukraine has denied the allegations. The head of its state arms export company, Ukrspetsexport, said no arms were sold during the war, and Defense Minister

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  1. ^ Проект Постанови про тимчасове припинення дипломатичних відносин з Російською Федерацією
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d The Crimea: Europe’s Next Flashpoint?, By Taras Kuzio, November 2010
  4. ^ a b Russia and Ukraine improve soured relations - Russian President, RIA Novosti (May 16, 2010)
  5. ^ a b Putin satisfied with state of Ukrainian-Russian relations, Kyiv Post (June 28, 2010)
  6. ^ "After Russian Invasion of Georgia, Putin's Words Stir Fears about Ukraine", Kyiv Post (30 November 2010)
  7. ^
  8. ^ Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels signed ceasefire deal
  9. ^
  10. ^ The rifts behind Europe's gas row, BBC News (January 8, 2009)
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Kievan Rus, in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2007)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ .
  18. ^ see Ukrainian Civil War combatants include Anarchists, White Russians, Bolsheviks, Central Powers, Ententes and those of short-lived Ukrainian governments.
  19. ^ See Belavezha Accords
  20. ^ Yushchenko Praises Guilty Verdict Against Soviet Leaders For Famine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (14 January 2010)
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ 2001 Political sketches: too early for summing up, Central European University (January 4, 2002)
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Polish head rejects Putin attack", BBC News (December 24, 2004)
  31. ^ a b
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  33. ^ a b
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  38. ^ a b The Key to Kyiv by Adrian Karatnycky and Alexander J. Motyl, Council on Foreign Relations (May 3, 2009)
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  40. ^
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  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ May/June 2007Foreign Affairs, Yuliya Tymoshenko, Containing Russia
  45. ^ Russia's Next Target Could Be Ukraine by Leon Aron, Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2008
  46. ^ Ukrainian radars withdrawn form operation in Russia's interests to undergo technical maintenance, Kyiv Post (February 26, 2009)
  47. ^ Ukrainian army supported Georgian attack on South Ossetia, Russia Today (August 24, 2009)
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Tymoshenko Bloc, OU-PSD, And Lytvyn Bloc Sign Rada Coalition Agreement", Ukrainian News Agency (December 16, 2008)
  50. ^ UNIAN, Presidential Secretariat gives answer to Moscow
  51. ^ UNIAN, Ukrainian Armed Forces to implement Yushchenko's decree on Russian ships
  52. ^ Ukrainians deny giving wartime help to Georgia. Associated Press.
  53. ^ General Prosecutor of Ukraine explains the presence of Ukrainian military personnel in Georgia (Ukrainian)
  54. ^ Bush to back Ukraine's NATO hopes, BBC News (April 1, 2008)
  55. ^ Biden Says U.S. Still Backs Ukraine in NATO, New York Times (July 21, 2009)
  56. ^ Ukraine asks to join NATO membership action plan, UNIAN (January 16, 2008)
  57. ^ a b Rogozin Sees Threat to Ukraine, Kommersant (December 01, 2008)
  58. ^ a b Ukraine’s envoy to NATO proposes Russian counterpart to focus on his problems, UNIAN (03-12-2008)
  59. ^ NATO puts Russia ties ahead of Georgia, Ukraine – Russian envoy, UNIAN (03-12-2008)
  60. ^ Путин не заявлял о том, что Украина не является государством.
  62. ^ Russia’s Prime Minister Putin: Yuschenko Recalled Naftohaz Ukrainy’s Delegation From Talks With Gazprom On December 31, Ukrainian News Agency (January 8, 2009)
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ Yuschenko Responds To Medvedev's Unfriendly Statement That Ukraine Must Compensate European Union For Losses During Gas Rows, Ukrainian News Agency (February 6, 2009)
  66. ^ Ukrainian president says Russia is to blame for halt in gas supplies to EU, Interfax-Ukraine (February 6, 2009)
  67. ^ Kyiv considers Russian president's statement about gas losses compensation unfriendly act, Interfax-Ukraine (February 6, 2009)
  68. ^ Ukraine Surprised With Medvedev’s Statement Obliging Ukraine To Compensate EU’s Losses For Termination Of Gas Supplies To Europe, Ukrainian News Agency (February 6, 2009)
  69. ^ a b "Russia suspicious of EU-Ukraine gas 'master plan'", Reuters (March 23, 2009)
  70. ^ UKRAINE/RUSSIA - WikiLeaks: Gryshchenko says Putin has low personal regard for Yanukovych
  71. ^ In the videoblog, Medvedev accused Yushchenko of arming the war in South Ossetia in August 2008. Among other issues in the relationship, such as the Black Sea Fleet, gas disputes, Medvedev also accused Yushchenko of attempting to eliminate the Russian language from everyday life in Ukraine. Medvedev also accused the Yushchenko administration of being willing to engage in historical revisionism and heroisation of Nazi collaborators, and imposing on the international community "a nationalistic interpretation of the mass famine of 1932-1933 in the USSR, calling it the "genocide of the Ukrainian people"."
  72. ^ a b
  73. ^
  74. ^ The development came after Ukraine accepted the appointment of Mikhail Zurabov to replace Viktor Chernomyrdin as Russia's ambassador in Kiev, who was recalled in June 2009.
  75. ^
  76. ^ (Ukrainian) Лист Президента України Віктора Ющенка Президенту Російської Федерації Дмитру Медведєву, (August 13, 2009)
  77. ^ Yuschenko denies Medvedev's claims about Ukraine's anti-Russian policy, Interfax-Ukraine (August 13, 2009)
  78. ^ (Ukrainian) Yushchenko's response to Medvedev. LetterЮщенко відповів Медведєву. Лист , Ukrayinska Pravda (August 09, 2009)
  79. ^ UPDATE 3-Russia's Medvedev wades into Ukraine polls, Reuters (August 11, 2009)
  80. ^ Ukraine has right to make its own choices, says US Department of State official, Interfax-Ukraine (August 13, 2009)
  81. ^ Lavrov: Russian-Ukrainian relations should not be over-politicized, Kyiv Post (October 7, 2009)
  82. ^ Moscow gives no response to Kyiv’s proposal to organize summit, says Lavrov, Interfax-Ukraine (October 7, 2009)
  83. ^ Lavrov: contacts between Russian, Ukrainian foreign ministries to continue without pauses, Kyiv Post (October 7, 2009)
  84. ^ Kyiv, Moscow to gradually abandon bans on entry for certain individuals, Kyiv Post (December 2, 2009)
  85. ^ Russia, Ukraine agree on naval-base-for-gas deal, CNN (April 21, 2010)
  86. ^ a b Update: Ukraine, Russia ratify Black Sea naval lease, Kyiv Post (April 27, 2010)
  87. ^
  88. ^
  89. ^
  90. ^ Merger with the Russian monopolies is not the most interesting (Ukrainian)
  91. ^ На Украине развернут лагеря для желающих воевать в Сирии (In Ukraine will be established camps for volunteers to fight in Syria. June 7, 2013.
  92. ^ Russian & Ukrainian Volunteers Pledged for Syrian Army. Syria Report. May 31, 2013.
  93. ^ The Voice of Russia: Russian-Ukrainian volunteer corps going to Syria to fight. Voice of Russia. Kyiv Post. August 27, 2013.
  94. ^ Russian & Ukrainian Volunteers Pledged for Syrian Army. Syria Report (youtube). May 31, 2013.
  95. ^ Російсько-український добровольчий корпус може відправитися воювати за Дамаск (Russian-Ukrainian volunteer corps may be deployed to fight for Damascus). Mirror Weekly. May 30, 2013.
  96. ^ Russian-Ukrainian volunteer corps going to Syria to fight. Voice of Russia. (cached)
  97. ^ «Подполковник разведки» Сергей Разумовский, агитирующий воевать в Сирии - это кремлёвский провокатор ("Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel" Sergei Rozumovsky who agitates to fight in Syria is a Kremlin's provocateur). Internet Freedom Organization. June 11, 2013.
  98. ^
  99. ^ Two Ukrainians killed, two missing after fishing launch collides with Russian border guards' motorboat in Azov Sea, says Ukraine's Border Service. Kyiv Post. July 18, 2013.
  100. ^ "Foreign Ministry: Russia investigating case against Ukrainian fisherman who survived collision in Azov Sea". Kyiv Post. July 31, 2013.
  101. ^ "Survival of Azov Sea incident claims Russian border guards rammed their vessel". Kyiv Post. August 5, 2013.
  102. ^ "Ukrainian poachers tried to ram their vessel into Russian border guards' motorboat in Sea of Azov - source". Kyiv Post. July 19, 2013.
  103. ^ "Ukraine says Russia had no right to charge Ukrainian fisherman". Kyiv Post. August 10, 2013.
  104. ^ "The only survived Ukrainian fisherman is held by force in Russia and is threatened with imprisonment". Segodnya. July 30, 2013.
  105. ^ "The Prosecutor of the Russian Federation took on proceedings of the Ukrainian sailor who survived in the Azov Sea". Mirror Weekly. August 12, 2013.
  106. ^ "Ukraine's Employers Federation: Russia's customs service halts all Ukrainian imports". Kyiv Post. August 14, 2013.
  107. ^ Russia sets off trade war to prevent Ukraine from signing agreement with EU, says UDAR. Kyiv Post. August 14, 2013.

    Does Russia Have a Secret Plan for Ukraine?, The Atlantic (21 August 2013)
    Caught in a Zeitnot, The Ukrainian Week (6 August 2013)
  108. ^ Klimkin: Russia trying to force renegotiation of Minsk deals, Kyiv Post (18 January 2015)
  109. ^ Drunk Russians on tractor illegally entered Ukraine. State Border Service of Ukraine. "Ukrayinska Pravda". August 28, 2013.
  110. ^ Drunk Russians on tractor illegally entered Ukraine. 5 channel. August 28, 2013.
  111. ^ Ukraine to be observer in Russia-led trade bloc, Reuters (31 May 2013)
  112. ^ a b Russia cuts Ukraine gas price by a third, BBC News (17 December 2013)
  113. ^ Ukraine to issue Eurobonds; Russia will purchase $15 bln, says Russian finance minister, Interfax-Ukraine (17 December 2013)
  114. ^
    Ukraine police dismantle Kiev protest camps, BBC News (9 December 2013)
  115. ^ Ukraine media see Kremlin pressure over EU, BBC News (22 November 2013)
    Q&A: Stand-off in Ukraine over EU agreement, BBC News (29 December 2013)
    Analysis: Russia's carrot-and-stick battle for Ukraine, BBC news (17 December 2013)
  116. ^ Eased Russian customs rules to save Ukraine $1.5 bln in 2014, says minister, Interfax-Ukraine (18 December 2013)
    Russia to lift restrictions on Ukrainian pipe imports - Ukrainian ministry, Interfax-Ukraine (18 December 2013)
    Russia tightens customs rules to force Ukraine into union, Reuters (15 August 2013)
  117. ^ Yanukovych denounces Ukrainian elections as 'illegitimate'
  118. ^
  119. ^
  120. ^ Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia, BBC, March 17, 2014
  121. ^
  122. ^ Putin Recognizes Crimea Secession, Defying the West, New York Times, March 17, 2014
  123. ^
  124. ^
  125. ^ Ukraine cannot normalize relations with Russia without return of Crimea, says Poroshenko, Interfax-Ukraine (26 June 2014)
  126. ^ "Russians Will Need Passport to Enter Ukraine". The Moscow Times. Published on February 3, 2015.
  127. ^ Ukraine Lawmakers Suspend Military Cooperation With Russia. MAY 21. New York Times.
  128. ^ "Ukraine crisis: US suspends military cooperation with Russia". The Telegraph
  129. ^ "Ukraine suspends military and technical cooperation with Russia, says Yatsenyuk". May. 20, 2015. Ukraine Today
  130. ^ Pavel Aksenov. Ukraine crisis: Why a lack of parts has hamstrung Russia's military. 8 August 2015.
  131. ^ Olena Gordiienko. Trade war with Russia hurts Ukraine less. Aug. 21, 2015.
  132. ^ As Ukraine Erects Defenses, Critics Fear Expensive Failure. Moscow Times. May 6, 2015
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  139. ^ a b Russia, Ukraine relationship going sour, say polls, Kyiv Post (October 2, 2008)
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  146. ^ Russians Regret Collapse of Soviet Union, Angus Reid Global Monitor (01/01/06)
  147. ^ Russians, Ukrainians Evoke Soviet Union, Angus Reid Global Monitor (01/02/05)
  148. ^ Russians Would Welcome Association with Ukraine, Angus Reid Global Monitor (05/20/07)
  149. ^ Russians Ponder Unification with Ukraine, Belarus, Angus Reid Global Monitor (10/02/05)
  150. ^ Poll: Most Russians want mutually beneficial relations with Ukraine, Kyiv Post (1 November 2011)
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  155. ^ Why Ukraine will always be better than Russia, Kyiv Post (June 12, 2009)
  156. ^ 32% of Ukrainians call Russia brotherly country – poll, Interfax-Ukraine (12 June 2013)
  157. ^ Russia’s Global Image Negative amid Crisis in Ukraine. JULY 9, 2014.
  158. ^ NATO publics blame Russia for Ukrainian Crisis, but reluctant to provide military aid, Pew Research Center (10 June 2015)
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  171. ^ a b State Duma approves denunciation of Russian-Ukrainian agreements on Black Sea Fleet, ITAR-TASS (31 March 2014)


  1. ^ After the two countries were denied membership of the NATO Membership Action Plan (at the NATO summit 2008 in April 2008) Russia's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin stated in December 2008: "They will not invite these bankrupt scandalous regimes to join NATO...more so as important partnerships with Russia are at stake", after an earlier statement that "In the broad sense of the word, there is a real threat of the collapse of the Ukrainian state." Ukraine’s envoy to NATO Ihor Sahach replied: "In my opinion, he is merely used as one of cogs in the informational war waged against Ukraine. Sooner or later, I think, it should be stopped". The envoy also expressed a surprise with Rogozin's slang words. "It was for the first time that I heard such a higher official as an envoy using this, I even don’t know how to describe it, whether it was slang or language of criminal circles... I can understand the Russian language, but, I’m sorry, I don't know what his words meant".[57][58]
  2. ^ In the letter Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko called Ukraine's position on Black Sea Fleet of "gross violations of bilateral agreements and the legislation of Ukraine", accused Russia of trying "to deprive Ukraine of its view of its own history" and accused Russia that not Ukraine but Russia itself is "virtually unable to realize the right to meet their national and cultural needs" of the Ukrainian minority in Russia.[78]


Claims by Ukraine

  • Crimea. Russia lays claims onto territory of Crimea by the resolution #1809-1 of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation "On legal evaluation of decisions of the supreme bodies of state power of the RSFSR about changing the status of Crimea that was adopted in 1954" (21 May 1992) Russia again claims Crimea in 2014.
    • Tuzla Island and Strait of Kerch (Kerch)
    • Sevastopol city. Russia lays claims onto territory of Sevastopol by the resolution #5359-1 of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation "About the status of Sevastopol City". Russia also accuses Ukrainian side of non-cooperation in talks about the status of Sevastopol by the resolution #404-SF of the Council of Federation of the Russian Federation "About commission of the Council of Federation in preparation the issue about legal status of Sevastopol city".
  • Sea of Azov

Claims by the Russian Federation (former and current)

Territorial claims


In September 2014, a survey by Alexei Navalny of the mainly Russophone cities of Odessa and Kharkiv found that 87% of residents wanted their region to stay in Ukraine, 3% wanted to join Russia, 2% wanted to join "Novorossiya," and 8% were undecided.[161] A KIIS poll conducted in December 2014 found 88.3% of Ukrainians opposed to joining Russia.[162]

In December 2014, 85% of Ukrainians (81% in eastern regions) rated relations with Russia as hostile (56%) or tense (29%), according to a Deutsche Welle survey which did not include Crimea and the separatist-controlled part of Donbass.[159] Gallup reported that 5% of Ukrainians (12% in the south and east) approved of the Russian leadership in a September–October 2014 survey, down from 43% (57% in the south and east) a year earlier.[160]

A poll released on 5 November 2009 showed that about 67% of Ukrainians believed the relationship with Russia should be a friendship between "two independent states".[142] According to a 2012 poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), 72% of Ukrainians preferred Ukraine and Russia as independent but friendly states with open borders without visas or customs; the number of unification supporters shrunk by 2% to 14% in Ukraine.[151]

Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia
Opinion October 2008[139] June 2009[155] September 2009[141] November 2009[142] September 2011[143] January 2012[143] April 2013[156] Mar-Jun 2014[157] June 2015[158]
Good 88% 91% 93% 96% 80% 86% 70% 35% 21%
Negative 9% - - - 13% 9% 12% 60% 72%

In Ukraine

A November 2014 survey by the University of Oslo found that most Russians viewed Ukraine as not legitimate as a state in its internationally recognised borders and with its then government.[153] According to an April 2015 survey by the Levada Center, when asked "What should be Russia's primary goals in its relations with vis-a-vis Ukraine?" (multiple answers allowed), the most common answers were: Restoring good neighborly relations (40%), retaining Crimea (26%), developing economic cooperation (21%), preventing Ukraine from joining NATO (20%), making gas prices for Ukraine the same as for other European countries (19%), and ousting the current Ukrainian leadership (16%).[154]

A poll released on 5 November 2009 showed that 55% of Russians believed that the relationship with Ukraine should be a friendship between "two independent states".[142] A late 2011 poll by the Levada Center showed 53% of polled Russians preferred friendship with an independent Ukraine, 33% preferred Ukraine to be under Russia's economic and political control, and 15% were undecided.[150] According to Levada's 2012 poll, 60% of Russians preferred Russia and Ukraine as independent but friendly states with open borders without visas or customs; the number of unification supporters increased by 4% to 20% in Russia.[151] Twenty surveys conducted from January 2009 to January 2015 by the Levada Center found that less than 10% of Russians supported Russia and Ukraine becoming one state.[152] In the January 2015 survey, 19% wanted eastern Ukraine to become part of Russia and 43% wanted it to become an independent state.[152]

During the 1990s, polls showed that a majority of people in Russia could not accept the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine.[145] According to a 2006 poll by VCIOM 66% of all Russians regretted the collapse of the Soviet Union.[146] 50% of respondents in Ukraine in a similar poll held in February 2005 stated they regret the disintegration of the Soviet Union.[147] In 2005 (71%) and 2007 (48%) polls, Russians expressed a wish to unify with Ukraine; although a unification solely with Belarus was more popular.[148][149]

80% had a "good or very good" attitude towards Belarus in 2009.[141]

Russian attitudes towards Ukraine
Opinion October 2008[139] April 2009[140] June 2009[140] September 2009[141] November 2009[142] September 2011[143] February 2012[143] May 2015[144]
Good 38% 41% 34% 46% 46% 68% 64% 26%
Negative 53% 49% 56% 44% 44% 25% 25% 59%

According to experts, the Russian government cultivates an image of Ukraine as the enemy to cover up its own internal mistakes. Analysts like Philip P. Pan (writing for the Washington Post) argued late 2009 that Russian media portrayed the then-Government of Ukraine as anti-Russian.[138]

Although a large majority of Ukrainians voted for independence in December 1991, in the following years the Russian press portrayed Ukraine's independence as the work of "nationalists" who "twisted" the "correct" instincts of the masses according to a 1996 study.[134] The study argues that this influenced the Russian public to believe that the Ukrainian political elite is the only thing blocking the "Ukrainians' heartfelt wish" to reunite with Russia.[134] Some members of the Russian political elite continued to claim that Ukrainian is a Russian dialect and that Ukraine (and Belarus) should become part of the Russian Federation.[135] In a June 2010 interview Mikhail Zurabov, then Russian ambassador to Ukraine, stated "Russians and Ukrainians are a single nation with some nuances and peculiarities".[136] Ukrainian history is not treated as a separate subject in leading Russian universities but rather incorporated into the history of Russia.[137]

In opinion polls, Russians generally say they have a more negative attitude towards Ukraine than vice versa. Polls in Russia have shown that after top Russian officials made radical statements or took drastic actions against Ukraine the attitude of those polled towards Ukraine worsened (every time). The issues that have hurt Russians' view of Ukraine are:

In Russia

Popular opinion

The Ukrainian and Russian arms and aviation manufacturing sectors remained deeply integrated following the break-up of the Soviet Union, but this integration is threatened by the political disputes of 2014. Ukraine is the world's eighth largest exporter of armaments according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and according to analysts cited by the Washington Post around 70% of Ukraine's defence-related exports flowed to Russia before 2014, or nearly US$1 billion. Potentially strategically sensitive exports from Ukraine to Russia included 300-350 helicopter engines per year as well as various other aircraft engines from Motor Sich in Zaporizhia, intercontinental ballistic missiles from Yuzhmash in Dnepropetrovsk, missile guidance systems from factories in Kharkov, 20% of Russia's uranium consumption from mines in Zhovti Vody, 60% of the gears to be used in planned Russian warships from manufacturers Mikolaev, and oil and gas from the Sea of Azov.[133]

Armaments and aerospace industries linked

Russia and Ukraine share 2,295 kilometers of border. In 2014, the Ukrainian government unveiled a plan to build a defensive walled system along the border with Russia, named "Project Wall". It would cost almost $520 million, take four years to complete and has been under construction as of 2015.[132]


In May 2015, Ukraine suspended military cooperation agreement with Russia,[127][128] that was in place since 1993.[129] Following a breakdown in mutual business ties, Ukraine also ceased supply of components that were used in production of military equipment by Russia.[130] In August, Russia announced that it will ban import of Ukrainian agricultural goods from January 2016.[131]

At the 26 June 2014 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated that bilateral relations with Russia cannot be normalized unless Russia undoes its unilateral annexation of Crimea and returns its control of Crimea to Ukraine.[125] In February 2015, Ukraine ended a 1997 agreement that Russians can enter Ukraine with internal ID instead of a travel passport.[126]

On 27 March, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding Resolution 68/262 that declared the Crimean referendum invalid and the incorporation of Crimea into Russia illegal.[123][124]

On 11 March, the Crimean parliament voted and approved a declaration on the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol from Ukraine, as the Republic of Crimea, with 78 votes out of 100 in favor.[117] Crimeans voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia on 16 March.[118][119] The Republic of Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine the next day, started seeking UN recognition, and requested to join the Russian Federation.[120] On the same day, Russia recognized Crimea as a sovereign state.[121][122]

On 27 February, armed men wearing masks seized a number of important buildings in Crimea, including the parliament building and two airports. They destroyed almost all phone and internet service between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. Under siege, the Supreme Council of Crimea dismissed the autonomous republic's government and replaced chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, Anatolii Mohyliov with Sergey Aksyonov. Kiev accused Russia of intervening in Ukraine's internal affairs, while the Russian side officially denied such claims. On 1 March, the Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to use military force in Ukraine, following a plea for help from unofficial pro-Moscow leader, Sergey Aksyonov. On the same day, the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov decreed the appointment of the Prime Minister of Crimea as unconstitutional. He said, "We consider the behavior of the Russian Federation to be direct aggression against the sovereignty of Ukraine!"

The 2014 Crimean crisis is unfolding in the autonomous region of Crimea, Ukraine, in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, in which the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. Protests were staged by groups of mainly ethnic Russians who opposed the events in Kiev and wanted close ties or integration with Russia, in addition to expanded autonomy or possible independence for Crimea. Other groups, including Crimean Tatars, protested in support of the revolution.

On 17 December 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to lend Ukraine 15 billion dollars in financial aid and a 33% discount on natural gas prices.[112][113] The treaty was signed amid massive, ongoing protests in Ukraine for closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.[114] Critics pointed out that in the months before the 17 December 2013 deal a change in Russian customs regulations on imports from Ukraine was a Russian attempt to prevent Ukraine to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union.[115][116][112]

Pro-Russian protesters in Odessa, March 30, 2014
March 15 protests, named the March of Peace, took place in Moscow a day before the Crimean referendum

In August 2013 Ukraine become an observer of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.[111]

Another incident took place on the border between Belgorod and Luhansk oblasts when an apparently inebriated Russian tractor driver decided to cross the border to Ukraine along with his two friends on 28 August 2013.[109][110] Unlike the Azov incident that took place a month earlier on 17 July 2013, the State Border Service of Ukraine handed over the citizens of Russia right back to the Russian authorities. Tractor "Belarus" was taken away and handed over to the Ministry Revenue and Collections.

On 14 August 2013 the Russian Custom Service stopped all goods coming from Ukraine.[106] Some politicians saw that as start of a trade war against Ukraine to prevent Ukraine from signing a trade agreement with the European Union.[107] According to Pavlo Klimkin, one of the Ukrainian negotiators of the Association Agreement, initially "the Russians simply did not believe (the association agreement with the EU) could come true. They didn't believe in our ability to negotiate a good agreement and didn't believe in our commitment to implement a good agreement."[108]

On 17 July 2013 near the Russian coast of Azov Sea which is considered as internal waters of both Russia and Ukraine (no boundary delimitation), the Russian coast guard patrol boat collided with a Ukrainian fishing vessel.[98] Four fishermen died[99] while one was detained by Russian authorities on the charges of poaching.[100] According to the surviving fisherman, their boat was rammed by Russians[101] and the fishermen were fired at as well, while the Russian law enforcement agency claimed that it was the poachers who tried to ran into the patrol vessel.[102] The Minister of Justice of Ukraine acknowledged that Russia has no jurisdiction to prosecute the detained citizen of Ukraine.[103] According to the wife of the survived fisherman, the Ukrainian Consul in Russia was very passive in providing any support on the matter.[104] The survived fisherman was expected to get released to Ukraine before 12 August 2013, however, the Prosecutor Office of Russia chose to keep the Ukrainian detained in Russia.[105]

On 14 May 2013 an unknown veteran of unknown intelligence service Sergei Razumovsky, leader of the All-Ukrainian Association of Homeless Officers, who resides in Ukraine under the Ukrainian flag calls on creation of Ukrainian-Russian international volunteer brigades in support of the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria to fight rebels.[91][92][93] One of the reasons why Rozumovsky wants to create such brigades is the fact that government of Ukraine does not support its officer corps.[94] Because of that Rozumovsky has intentions to apply for citizenship of Syria.[95][96] Some sources claim that he is a Kremlin's provocateur.[97]

Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (April 2010[4]) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (June 2010[5]) have stated they noticed a big improvement in relations since Viktor Yanukovych Presidency.

On 17 May 2010, the President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Kiev on a two-day visit.[88] During the visit Medvedev hoped to sign cooperation agreements in "inter-regional and international problems", according to RIA Novosti. That also was mentioned on the official inquiry at the Verkhovna Rada by the First Deputy prime-minister Andriy Kliuyev. According to some news agencies the main purpose of the visit was to solve the disagreements in the Russian-Ukrainian energy relations after Viktor Yanukovych agreed on the partial merger of Gazprom and Naftogaz.[89] Apart from the merger of the state gas companies there are also talks of the merger of the nuclear energy sector as well.[90]

On 22 April 2010 Presidents Viktor Yanukovych and Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement concerning renting of the Russian Naval Forces base in Sevastopol in the next 25 years for the natural gas discounts in deliveries which accounted for $100 per each 1,000 cubic meters.[85][86][87] The lease extension agreement was highly controversial in and outside of Ukraine.[3]

According to Taras Kuzio, Viktor Yanukovych is the most pro-Russian and neo-Soviet president to have been elected in Ukraine.[3] Since his election he fulfilled all of the demands laid out by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in his letter written to former President Viktor Yushchenko in August 2009.[3]

Vladimir Putin arrived at the 14th International Biker Rally in Sevastopol, Crimea, July 24, 2010
Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 17 May 2010 near Memorial to the Holodomor Victims in Kiev.
Viktor Yanukovych Presidency


On 2 December 2009, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko and Lavrov agreed on gradually abandoning the compilation of lists of individuals banned from entering their countries.[84]

[83] but that "Contacts between the two countries' foreign ministries are being maintained permanently."[82] On 7 October 2009,

On 11 August 2009, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev posted a videoblog on the website, and the official Kremlin LiveJournal blog, in which he criticised Yushchenko for what Medvedev claimed was the Ukrainian president's responsibility in the souring of Russia–Ukraine relations and "the anti-Russian position of the current Ukrainian authorities".[71] Medvedev further announced that he would not send a new ambassador to Ukraine until there was an improvement in the relationship.[72][73][74][75] In response, Yushchenko wrote a letter which noted he could not agree that the Ukrainian-Russian relations had run into problems and wondered why the Russian president completely ruled out the Russian responsibility for this.[76][77][nb 2] Analysts said Medvedev's message was timed to influence the campaign for the Ukrainian presidential election, 2010.[72][79] The U.S. Department of State spokesman, commenting on the message by Medvedev to his Ukrainian counterpart Yuschenko, said, among other things: "It is important for Ukraine and Russia to have a constructive relationship. I'm not sure that these comments are necessarily in that vein. But going forward, Ukraine has a right to make its own choices, and we feel that it has a right to join NATO if it chooses."[80]

In a leaked US diplomatic cable (as revealed by WikiLeaks) regarding the January 2009 Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis, the US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor was quoting Ambassador of Ukraine to Russia Kostyantyn Hryshchenko as expressing his opinion that Kremlin leaders wanted to see a totally subservient person in charge in Kiev (a regency in Ukraine) and that Putin "hated" the then-President Yushchenko and had a low personal regard for Yanukovych, but saw then-Prime Minister Tymoshenko as someone perhaps not that he can trust, yet with whom he could deal.[70]

After a "master plan" to modernize the natural gas infrastructure of Ukraine between the EU and Ukraine was announced (on 23 March 2009) Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told an investment conference at which the plan was unveiled that it appeared to draw Ukraine legally closer to the European Union and might harm Moscow's interests.[69] According to Putin "to discuss such issues without the basic supplier is simply not serious".[69]

Videoblog of the address by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko on 11 August 2009. (Transcript in English).

During a January 2009 dispute over natural gas prices, exports of Russian natural gas through Ukraine were shut.[62] Relations further deteriorated when Russian Prime Minister Putin during this dispute said that "Ukrainian political leadership is demonstrating its inability to solve economic problems, and [...] situation highlights the high criminalization of [Ukrainian] authorities"[63][64] and when in February 2009 (after the conflict) Ukrainian President Yushchenko[65][66] and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry considered Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's statement that Ukraine must compensate for gas crisis losses to the European countries an "emotional statement which is unfriendly and hostile towards Ukraine and the EU member-states".[67][68] During the conflict the Russian media almost uniformly portrayed Ukraine as an aggressive and greedy state that wanted to ally with Russia’s enemies and exploit cheap Russian gas.[38]

Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, November 2009

[61] Putin "implicitly challenged the territorial integrity of Ukraine, suggesting that Ukraine was an artificial creation sewn together from territory of Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and especially Russia in the aftermath of the Second World War."United States diplomatic cables leak According to a document in the [60], Putin spoke of Russia’s responsibility for ethnic Russians resident in Ukraine and urged his NATO partners to act advisedly; according to some media reports he then also privately hinted to his US counterpart at the possibility of Ukraine losing its integrity in the event of its NATO accession.Bucharest Summit in NATO-Russia Council According to the alleged transcript of Putin’s speech at the 2008 [59][58][57][nb 1] The US supported Ukraine's


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