Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia

London, 27 January 2017: The Ukraine crisis has left the West and Russia locked in a struggle for dominance in post-Soviet Eurasia that imposes losses on all parties, a new IISS publication contends. 

Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia blames both Russia and the West for pursuing ‘zero-sum’ policies towards states such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The crisis in Ukraine should be seen as the culmination of these policies, it argues. They have resulted in an armed stand-off in eastern Europe, heightened regional instability, economic losses for all parties, and barriers to cooperation between Russia and the West on issues of mutual interest beyond Europe.

The first step to escaping this ruinous and self-harming competition, authors Dr Samuel Charap of the IISS and Professor Timothy Colton of Harvard University argue, is to end the taboo on open-ended dialogue on Europe’s regional security order. They believe that the new United States administration offers a window of opportunity in this regard. 

‘The Ukraine crisis has yielded a disastrous outcome in which all parties are worse off and international security has deteriorated. Governments involved must recognise the failure of their current policies and commit to finding mutually acceptable alternatives,’ said Dr Charap, IISS Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia. 

The book, which draws on extensive research and access to unpublished material, traces the Ukraine crisis back to the rapid collapse of the Cold War order. It finds that neither side invested serious effort in the task of outlining or even contemplating a cooperative regional order that all parties could accept. The states caught between Russia and the West were faced with a choice they were not able or ready to make, although often their leaders exploited this competition for their own selfish interests.

Published by the IISS and Routledge, Everyone Loses argues that Russian and Western policy towards post-Soviet Eurasia has reached a dead end. While Russia’s policy of military, economic and political coercion has alienated those countries that might otherwise have been drawn towards it, the authors assert that the eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union is no longer viable.