As Crimea approaches a referendum to join Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin pushes for federalism, the international community is working to maintain Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and integrity. By sealing off Kiev from the heavily Russian central and eastern parts of Ukraine, Putin hopes to prevent the spread of nationalism and the possibility of a united Ukraine turning to the West.

In the first part of a two-part podcast hosted by Carnegie–Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle, Carnegie Moscow’s Dmitri Trenin said that Ukrainians have become frustrated by their country’s relative lack of progress in the past two decades and want an end to corruption, rule of law, and better opportunities. Trenin said that Putin feared the spread of what he saw as dangerous nationalistic and fascist forces in Kiev throughout the country, and intervened to protect his own—viewing Ukrainians and Russians as one people. Trenin said that Russia had not expected outspoken support from Beijing regarding the struggle over Ukraine, but China’s importance to Russia will likely grow in the aftermath of the crisis. 

Dmitri Trenin

Dmitri Trenin is the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. He also chairs the research council and the Foreign and Security Policy Program. He retired from the Russian Army in 1993. From 1993–1997, Trenin held a post as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Europe in Moscow. In 1993, he was a senior research fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces from 1972 to 1993, including experience working as a liaison officer in the external relations branch of the Group of Soviet Forces (stationed in Potsdam) and as a staff member of the delegation to the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms talks in Geneva from 1985 to 1991. He also taught at the War Studies Department of the Military Institute from 1986 to 1993.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.