Why did Russia invade and annex Crimea last year and then aid and abet popular rebellion in eastern Ukraine? The answer is that political changes in Ukraine were a “perfect storm” for Russia, whether we look at the threats to Russian security posed by Ukraine’s desire to join the EU and NATO or Putin’s fear that regime change in Ukraine could spread to Moscow. What was at stake, in short, was Russia’s national security and Putin’s job security.
Valerie Bunce, Director of European Studies at Cornell Institute, is the Aaron Binenkorb Professor of International Studies and Professor of Government. Her primary field is comparative politics and, secondarily, international relations. Her research and teaching addresses comparative democratization, international democracy promotion, and inter-ethnic cooperation and conflict. Her geographical focus is primarily east-central Europe, the Balkans and the Soviet successor states, though her comparative interests extend to Latin America.