German Ostpolitik and the 'Ukraine Crisis': Berlin's Changing Approach to Russia after the Annexation of Crimea

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Monday, March 12th, 2018

Monday, March 12, 20182:00PM - 4:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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The spectacular events of 2014 – the annexation of Crimea, start of the war in the Donets Basin, shooting of Malysian airliner MH17 over Eastern Ukraine, etc. – have changed German perceptions of the current Russian leadership fundamentally, as expressed in far going shifts in public discourse and opinion. Gradually, this change of position has also been noted in Ukraine. While there was in summer 2014 still an inapt Ukrainian “Mrs Ribbentropp” against Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor is today perceived, by most Ukrainian political observers, as one of the most pro-Ukrainian Western leaders. Nevertheless, an array of continuing formal and informal ties between Russia and Germany (economic, cultural, political etc.) continues to exert a largely unhealthy influence on German society and politics, as they often are used by the Kremlin to manipulate German decision and opinion making. These attempts are eased by deep-seated pathologies in post-war German foreign political thought including escapist pacifism, anti-Americanism, and mis-perceptions of the East European past and present as well as Germany’s role therein. The continuing significant German trade with Russia, and only slowly improving public knowledge about Ukraine are preventing an already disillusioned political class in Berlin to take a more resolute stance within the current Russian-Western confrontation.

ANDREAS UMLAND studied politics and Russian affairs in Leipzig, Berlin, Oxford, Stanford and Cambridge. He taught at the Urals State University, St. Antony’s College Oxford, Shevchenko University of Kyiv, Catholic University of Eichstaett and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Since 2014, he is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv. He is also general editor of the book series “Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society” and consulting editor for the “Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society.”


Olga Kesarchuk


Andreas Umland
Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, Ukraine

Main Sponsor

Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine


Joint Initiative for German and European Studies

John Yaremko Chair in Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto

Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta

Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies

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