Sigma: Journal of Political and International Studies


Andrew Jensen


Russia, hierarchy, Ukraine, Moldova


The smoldering wreckage of a commercial airliner in an Eastern Ukraine farm field signified so much more than just hundreds of innocent deaths; the downing was a bloody symbol of just how far Ukraine had fallen. Peace agreements between the rebels and government forged in Minsk in September 2014 and February 2015 failed to stamp out the persistent violence. Not simply a civil war, the rebels had been trained, armed, and assisted by the Russian military. While Russia flatly denied its contribution of men and munitions, few in the West believed the claims. Despite several rounds of sanctions by the EU and the U.S., rockets and bullets continued to take the lives of soldiers and civilians (CSIS 2015). How could peaceful protests against an unpopular president have caused this? Why has Russia persisted in this course of action? Considering the precipitous decline of the domestic economy exacerbated by the sanctions, Russia seems to be paying a high cost for its actions. In addition, encouraging instability on its border seems contrary to Moscow's security interest. So what is the Kremlin gaining with its war in Ukraine?