8 reviews on the conflict between Russian and Ukraine.

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Balmaceda, Margarita M. The politics of energy dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania between domestic oligarchs and Russian pressure, 1992-2012. Toronto, 2013. 444p bibl index afp ISBN 9781442645332, $90.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2014

Balmaceda (Seton Hall Univ.) has produced the definitive account of Russia’s energy trade with its western neighbors, a topic that has been of great interest to both academics and policy makers for the past decade. Based on exhaustive research and fieldwork in Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, she documents the differing ways in which the domestic political arrangements in those countries have shaped the way they managed their energy dependency on Russia. Balmaceda demonstrates that in order to understand the international bargaining over energy rents between them and Russia, it is vital to track the flow of rents within each of those countries. Her work is a reminder that international relations theory must be integrated with analysis of domestic political economy in order to grasp the complexity of the forces shaping national decision making. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections. —P. Rutland, Wesleyan University

Cybriwsky, Roman Adrian. Kyiv, Ukraine: the city of domes and demons from the collapse of socialism to the mass uprising of 2013-2014. Chicago, 2014. 352p bibl index ISBN 9789089646644, $124.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE March 2015

This is a valuable and timely book.  An American urban geographer of Ukrainian descent whose academic output has focused primarily on Japan, Cybriwsky (geography and urban studies, Temple) spent the 2013–2014 academic year at the National Univ. of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on a Fulbright exchange.  His proficiency in Ukrainian and Russian provided him unique access to the raucous events he witnessed.  His reflections are dispensed in sketches of two to ten pages, loosely organized into 12 chapters.  Given his background, his sympathy for the Western-leaning, Ukrainian-speaking elements in the ongoing civil strife should surprise no one, but he never sinks to rancor, except when cataloguing the excesses of former President Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle.  Cybriwsky’s urbanist expertise feeds his most useful insights on how Kyiv’s architecture and topography influenced the mood and activity of the Maidan movement.  Moreover, in contrast to the already tired contrast between the Catholic, Ukrainian-speaking West versus the Orthodox, Russian-speaking East, Cybriwsky sees the fundamental conflict in Kyiv as a competition for post-socialist space in which wealth, however amassed, trumps ethnic affiliation. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. —P. E. Heineman, University of Maryland University College

D’Anieri, Paul J. Ukraine and Russia: from civilized divorce to uncivil war. Cambridge, 2019. 282p index ISBN 9781108486095, $84.99; ISBN 9781108713955 pbk, $29.99; ISBN 9781108638852 ebook, $24.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2020

The collapse of the Soviet Union was undoubtedly one of the most consequential events of world history and international politics in the past 50 years and beyond. Although the breakup of the USSR took place almost without bloodshed, it quickly became clear that Russia was unable to accept its new political reality. Nowhere is this unwillingness more visible than in relations between Russia and Ukraine. In this book, D’Anieri (Univ. of California, Riverside), a well-known specialist in Ukrainian affairs, documents and attempts to explain Russia’s persistent interference in Ukrainian politics. Although not a strict historical study, this volume offers a very detailed account of developments from the 1990s to 2019, covering agreements between the two states, the role of economic factors (in particular Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for energy), and the impact of international affairs relating to US elections, NATO, and the Balkans. D’Anieri is ultimately pessimistic about the possibility of a resolution to the impasse between Ukraine and Russia soon. Whether or not his pessimism is justified, this book provides a sophisticated analysis, supported by cogent facts, to understand this troubling conflict. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. —T. R. Weeks, Southern Illinois University

Driscoll, Jesse. Warlords and coalition politics in post-Soviet states. Cambridge, 2015. 242p bibl index ISBN 9781107063358, $99.00; ISBN 9781316309384 ebook, $80.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE January 2016

Civil wars are among the most intractable of conflicts, often degenerating into wars of attrition while inflicting massive civilian casualties.  They challenge policy makers and international organizations as well as social scientists.  The study of them is dominated by a realist paradigm that assumes that war ends when one side defeats the other and a liberal approach that argues for third-party intervention to mediate a resolution of the conflict.  Focusing on the wars in Georgia and Tajikistan, Driscoll (Univ. of California, San Diego) shows that conflicts can end not through mediation or defeat but through coalition building among the combatants—the warlords.  Both wars ended as coalitions formed to install a government able to claim foreign aid, and warlords became cabinet ministers.  There were funds to be stolen and bribes to be taken—end of conflict!  Driscoll spent nearly two years doing fieldwork in Georgia and Tajikistan and demonstrates a deep understanding of his subject.  He concludes his study with policy recommendations on the ongoing Ukraine crisis.  This is a test of his analytical model.  The book is strongly recommended not only for Driscoll’s fieldwork but also as a policy recommendation for governments and international organizations. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —R. P. Peters, Univ. of Massachusetts / Harvard Univ. Davis Center, Russian & Eurasian Studies

Freedman, Lawrence. Ukraine and the art of strategy. Oxford, 2019. 233p index ISBN 9780190902889, $27.95; ISBN 9780190902896 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE July 2019

This excellent book makes an important contribution to the literature on the Ukrainian crisis and the new “cold war” between the US and Russia. Freedman (King’s College London, UK) applies the model for the study of military strategies developed in his masterpiece, Strategy: A History (CH, Jul’14, 51-6416), to the Russia-Ukraine protracted military conflict. The first chapter is a very useful primer on strategic theory and the innovations in strategic thinking developed during the Cold War. It provides an indispensable introduction to the concepts of “crisis management,” “deterrence,” “coercive diplomacy,” “economic sanctions,” “limited wars,” and “exhaustion.” The book explains the emergence of a permanent stalemate resulting from Russia’s and Ukraine’s lack of interest in moving into all-out war while being able to adapt to a continuing conflict without feeling obliged to accept a resolution on unfavorable terms. The author examines in detail the 2014 and 2015 Minsk cease-fire agreements and the reasons for their ineffectiveness. Freedman provides a convincing explanation of the stalemate and does a superb job of situating the Russia-Ukraine “limited war” within the broader framework of a rapidly changing international context since 2015, after Russia’s intervention in Syria and attempt to disrupt Western democracies. The conclusion summarizes the lessons of Russia-Ukraine for the art of strategy. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —M. E. Carranza, Texas A&M University–Kingsville

Hill, William H. No place for Russia: European security institutions since 1989. Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2018. 519p index ISBN 9780231704588, $40.00; ISBN 9780231801423 ebook, $39.99.
Reviewed in CHOICE February 2019

The Iron Curtain, which divided East from West during the Cold War, began to come down during Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power in 1985. Hill (emer., National War College) writes about the post-Crimea, refined dividing line between Russia and the West. Hill traces the politics of a drift from a vision of “Europe whole and free” to a new Cold War. This drift, he argues, emerged from numerous discrete decisions rather than from a deliberate plan. A central part of Hill’s analysis is the role of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) in the Balkan conflicts and the evolution of NATO from a regional alliance to one of global capabilities and functions. His main argument is that Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea have “irrevocably shattered” the regional order in Europe, and a new order has not yet been defined. Although the book covers familiar ground, it is informed by Hill’s experience serving in various posts in the departments of state and defense and in the OSCE. Valuable as a reminder of easily forgotten recent history, this well-documented book is required reading for students and scholars of East-West relations and those interested in the political evolution of Euro-Atlantic security architecture. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers. —R. P. Peters, Harvard University

Rytövuori-Apunen, Helena. Power and conflict in Russia’s borderlands: the post-Soviet geopolitics of dispute resolution. I. B. Tauris, 2019. 330p bibl index ISBN 9781788311434, $115.00; ISBN 9781788316941 ebook, $103.50.
Reviewed in CHOICE March 2020

Finnish scholar Rytövuori-Apunen (formerly, Univ. of Tampere, Finland) provides a carefully researched and insightful analysis of Russian behavior in four secessionist conflicts in former Soviet spaces—Transnistria and Gagauzia (in Moldova); Nagorno-Karabakh (in Armenia and Azerbaijan); South Ossetia and Abkhazia (in Georgia); and Crimea (in Ukraine). She argues that these territories represent “deep borders” for Russia, a defensive glacis that Moscow maintains in order to prevent hostile powers (principally NATO) from encroaching even closer to its borders. Preferring “vertical” control to “horizontal” bargaining, Moscow exercises control over these territories by nurturing the dependency of certain key local actors while promoting their “neutrality” vis-à-vis Western institutions. With its vast expanse, Russia acts as a “continental power” rather than an ordinary nation-state with clearly defined borders (p. 9). This book will be a valuable resource for scholars studying conflicts in the former Soviet Union, and especially those researching the more recent conflict in East Ukraine, as it provides a rich historical backdrop for understanding the prospects for peaceful resolution. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —P. Rutland, Wesleyan University

Yekelchyk, Serhy. The conflict in Ukraine: what everyone needs to know. Oxford, 2015. 186p bibl index afp ISBN 9780190237271, $74.00; ISBN 9780190237288 pbk, $16.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE May 2019

This seven-chapter volume, organized in the question-and-answer format of the publisher’s “What Everyone Needs to Know” series, allows Yekelchyk (Univ. of Victoria, British Columbia) to explain the recent conflict in Ukraine by weaving together domestic and foreign, current and historical factors.  Whereas other authors blame the 2013–14 Ukrainian conflict on the linguistic differences and ethnic tensions dividing that society, Yekelchyk brings readers’ attention to the conflict’s international dimension.  Like the Russian czars before him, Vladimir Putin has denied Ukraine’s existence as a distinct nation.  Yekelchyk explains the country’s ethnic composition, its national identity, and its split into pro-Western and pro-Russian halves (chapter 2).  He then narrates the history of Ukraine as part of Russia and the Soviet Union and as a separate country seeking to forge a place among nations (chapter 3).  Post-communist Ukraine’s efforts to distinguish itself from Russia ignored the need to strengthen the economy and eradicate pervasive corruption (chapter 4).  Chapters 5 and 6 focus on the Orange Revolution, the Euromaidan, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Western peacemaking efforts.  The conclusion looks at Ukraine’s future in Europe.  Well written and informative, the book is mandatory reading for those seeking to understand the forces that shape contemporary politics. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. —L. Stan, St. Francis Xavier University