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Geopolitical Struggles: The Case of Russo-Ukrainian Natural Gas Tensions
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFor well over a millennium, the nations of Russia and Ukraine have intertwined cultural, linguistic, and political paths. Yet after being bound together by the Soviet Union, the two nations are now vying for their place on the world economic stage. Former allies against the West, both countries seek to utilize their clout in the energy transit market to gain favor with Europe as a way to regain financial stability. Political and elite tensions in both nations look toward the exploitation of the energy sector as a quick means to gain profit and keep the upper class rich. Thus, a struggle over the logistics of gas and oil exports is also a metaphor for the political and elite class relations in the post-soviet bloc over the course of the past two decades. Russia and Ukraine are engaged in a hostile zero-sum game, in which both nations utilize their geopolitical clout and strategic positions as natural resource providers to attain greater financial rewards for their respective governmental elites. This paper explores the ties between business elites and governmental foreign policy, specifically among power players in Russia and Ukraine. These are wealthy individuals in both nations who are privileged based on societal position, connections, gender, and socioeconomic status. The links between private sector interests and public policy are examined through a geopolitical and geo-economic lens. Geopolitics refers to the wielding of political power over a given territory, and this work will refer specifically to the international trade of energy through pipelines and transit nations. Subsequently, geo-economics is used to illuminate the links between political forces within economies and the resources of specific nations. The post-Soviet bloc was, at times, and financial Wild West -- the public-private sector relations that arose from this period directly influence the economic climate of Russia and Ukraine today. Relations between the two nations carry risks for energy security in the West and affect economic relations in Europe. Therefore, geopolitical lens will color the decisions made by the energy export sector business elites and help illuminate their ties to the government decision makers in both countries.
Degree ProgramHonors College