Paul D’Anieri’s Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War (Cambridge University Press, 2019) documents in a nuanced way the development of the current military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The book includes a meticulous account of numerous developments which, according to D’Anieri, led to the war that still remains officially undeclared.
The roots of the conflict can be found in the beginning of the end of the USSR: different visions that Russian and Ukrainian politicians and officials had regarding the development of their countries gradually contributed to the growing gap—political and ideological—between Russia and Ukraine.
D’Anieri’s study comprises a number of insightful and interesting comments on the political developments: interviews and conversations, which reveal the views of Russian and Ukrainian political players, help reconstruct the dynamic that eventually led to the Ukrainian revolutions and to the Russo-Ukrainian war of 2014.
One of the strongest aspects of the book is the inclusion of the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia into the international political context: D’Anieri illustrates how the conflict, on the one hand, appeared to emerge as a consequence of international processes; on the other hand, it appears to be shaping to a larger extent the current international dynamic.
Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War completes a number of goals: documenting the current conflict and outlining the main reasons is one of them. Additionally, the book provides insights into understanding Ukraine as an independent state which in the West has long been confused with the Russian territory. This understanding is inseparable from the histories and developments of the neighboring countries, including Russia in the first place.
However, it should also be noted that the history and understanding of Russia will always be abridged without a closer look at the countries that at some point happened to be under Russia’s influence. On a larger scale, Ukraine and Russia: From Civilized Divorce to Uncivil War is an attempt to break a traditional approach of viewing Ukraine as a country that has long been understood indirectly through the Russian lens.
D’Anieri brings Ukraine as a geopolitical unit to the forefront to reveal the complex and entangled history of its north-eastern neighbor.
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