Regionalism and Multivectorism in Eurasia: The Case of Ukraine

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
S13 (13 rue de l'Université)
Mikhail A Molchanov , Political Science, St. Thomas University
Ukraine’s foreign policy is subject to some controversy. More than one analyst has criticized it for its lack of consistency, coherence, or a clear national strategy. One the one hand, Ukraine has been a US ally and proclaimed “return to Europe” as its main foreign policy goal. On the other hand, Ukraine’s pro-European drive has been historically inconsistent and punctuated with numerous overtures to Russia. What accounts for this inconsistency? Why has the Ukrainian-Russian conflict proved so bitter and served to undermine not one, but two processes of regional integration -- the European and the Eurasian ones?

The paper seeks to answer these questions engaging the interrelated concepts of regionalism and foreign policy multivectorism. Multivectorism is a type of policy that reflects the impact of liberal ideas in international relations with their emphasis on economic interdependence, cooperation and the power of international institutions and norms in mitigating conflict. Yet, mutlivectorism can get misplaced. Its more successful variety emphasizes engaging with more than one pole of power simultaneously. Alternatively, a country can vascillate between several power centres without committing itself to either one. This is what Ukraine tried to accomplish, and this is, arguably, what led to the current crisis. The paper will offer tentative suggestions as to the ways out of the current conundrum in the Ukrainian-Russian and Russian-European relations.