GIES Occasional paper

The GIES Occasional Paper is an initiative by the Ghent Institute for International and European Politics. 

Taken aback at the shocking acts of aggression by the Russian authorities in Ukraine, our research group aimed to look inwards and build on our expertise to shine a light on the crisis.

The contributions of our researchers have been bundled together in our very first GIES Occasional Paper.

2022 | The War in Ukraine

Eds. Dr. Tim Haesebrouck, Servaas Taghon and Hermine Van Coppenolle

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The End of Globalisation As We Know It - by Ferdi De Ville

While it is impossible to predict the outcome of the war in Ukraine in the short term, we can more confidently assess its medium-term consequences. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the unprecedented sanctions with which the west has responded will be a watershed in the trajectory of the global economy. The consequences of the economic isolation of Russia will long outlive the duration of the war and the sanctions. Globalisation will never fully recover from this blow.

Putin is Afraid of Europe - by Klaas Wauters and Hendrik Vos

It is still said here and there, even in academic circles: we must understand the Russian president. This contribution looks at Putin, the history of the Soviet Union and the strength of the European Project.

Putin Is Creating the Multipolar World He (Thought He) Wanted - by Sven Biscop, Bart Dessein and Jasper Roctus

Up until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s and China’s worsening relations with the European Union and the United States meant that the world order was at risk of falling apart into two rival blocs, as during the Cold War: Europeans and Americans against Russians and Chinese. Since 24 February 2022, that is not so clear anymore. The more Russia escalates the violence in Ukraine, but also the strategic anxiety (by putting its nuclear forces on alert), the more difficult it becomes for other powers to stay completely aloof, let alone to simply align with Russia. The more EU and US sanctions reverberate throughout the global economy, the more it becomes impossible for other powers to avoid going at least partially along. China in particular has in fact already made a defining choice.

Ukraine's In-Betweenness: From Hybridity to Centrality - by Louise Amoris

“We feel like a part of Europe, but may look like a part of Russia. With our thoughts, we are in the West. With our sins, we are in the East”. Louise Amoris breaks down the perceptions and self-perception of Ukraine and Ukrainian identity.

How the War in Ukraine Affects Countries That Depend on Russia - by Karolina Kluczewska

Karolina Kluczewska was doing field research in Tajikistan when Russia attacked Ukraine. In a country where people usually are not concerned about world affairs, the war suddenly became a frequent topic of discussion, and a major preoccupation of many people whose livelihoods depend on Russia. This post-Soviet Central Asian country is tied to Russia in many ways: historically, politically and, most importantly, economically. In this paper Karolina sketches how the first weeks of the war in Ukraine affected Tajikistan.

The War in Ukraine and Turkey's Hedging Strategy Between the West and Russia - by Dries Lesage, Emin Daskin and Hasan Yar

In the face of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey takes a cautious position in line with its hedging strategy between the West and Russia, with the aim to maintain positive relations with both sides. Turkey has armed Ukraine and condemned Russia’s aggression. But it does not join Western sanctions against Russia. Due to traumatic historical experiences, Turkey does not want to be caught up in a conflict between major powers/blocs and prefers to retain its strategic autonomy. Recent crises of confidence between Turkey and the West reinforce this stance. Due to its geographical location and bad economic situation, Turkey has a direct interest in a rapid end to the war. This explains its active mediation role, where theoretically a more passive stance was possible. In addition, this high-profile mediation might also enhance Turkey’s international standing and help stem the decline of popularity of the incumbent leadership domestically.

Europe's Energy Transition Will Disarm Putin - by Moniek de Jong and Thijs Van De Graaf

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a watershed moment for Europe’s energy policy. This paper looks at Europe's energy and gas dependency on Russia, its history and the valence of the green energy transition.

Russia After the Cold War and Germany After World War I, a Cautious Comparison - by Goedele De Keersmaeker

From a new friend of the West to a resentful Weimar-Russia and beyond. 

In the Winter 1990/1991 issue of Foreign Affairs, Charles Krauthammer published a famous article that was the start of a whole school of academic and non-academic analyses describing the world after the Cold War in terms of American unipolarity, primacy, hegemony or even empire. Though the article was entitled ‘The Unipolar Moment’ Krauthammer and his followers were convinced that American dominance in international politics was there to stay for many decades. More particularly he considered the ‘emergence of a reduced but resurgent, xenophobic and resentful “Weimar” Russia’, as an extremely formulated speculation. Such threats to American security could develop, he acknowledged, but they could not be predicted in 1990, just as it was impossible to predict Nazism in 1920. Thirty years later we are there.

Freezing Russia's Central Bank Reserves: Much Ado About Nothing? - by Mattias Vermeiren

Western countries have responded to the invasion of Ukraine with a plethora of sanctions that seek to completely isolate Russia from the western-dominated international financial and monetary system. This paper discusses the possible objectives behind the western sanctions, as well as the possible consequences of Russia's isolation from the financial system.

Russia's Invasion in Ukraine: What Happened Before? - by Servaas Taghon and Tim Haesebrouck

On February 24th 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion into Ukraine, causing a horrific humanitarian tragedy for the Ukrainian people and what might become the most consequential geopolitical conflict since the end of the Cold War. In this contribution, we describe the key events that happened before Russia’s war on Ukraine, starting in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union and ending with the start of Russia’s aggression. We do not aim to look for the historical causes of the war, nor can we hope to provide a full history of the Russia-Ukraine relationship in this short piece. Our goal is limited to providing some historical background to the conflict.

Between Imperialism and Soft Power: Reckoning With Russia's Past, Present, and Future National Idea -by John Irgengioro

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine tends to be seen as concerning not only for Ukraine’s existence, but also Russia’s future. Although it seemed that Putin singlehandedly ordered this invasion, his fateful decision is bringing to a crescendo Russia’s long time reckoning with its own national idea over the past three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This war is unravelling deeply existentialist questions about the trajectory of the Russian Federation as a successor state of the USSR: how to reckon itself with its past legacy of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, how to conceptualise its national idea of the present, and what to make of Russia’s paths for its future.

Understanding China's Diplomatic Stances vis-à-vis the Russia-Ukraine Crisis - by Huanyu Zhao and Jing Yu

In this contribution, Huanyu Zhao and Jing Yu map the official Chinese position towards the Ukraine conflict. The paper offers a structured and concise overview of the official Chinese discourse on the conflict.