The Ukrainian Shatterbelt: A New Cold War?

No. 30 – October 2014
Authors: Murad Jalilov, Phil Kelly
Language: English
 Ukraine crisis
 Ukrainian shatterbelt
 Russia-NATO rivalry

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Following the perspective of an elongated unipolarity, Phil Kelly (2012) alleged a new era of strategic accommodation among the Earth’s Great Powers, China, Russia, Germany and Japan, each acquiescing in North American hegemony. Hence, he claimed, the disappearance of shatterbelts would come about, since a required strategic competition among the leader states could not arise, the Globe having just one strategic power in the United States with no rivals competing against it. Nonetheless, Kelly went on to suggest several possible regions where shatterbelts could emerge, but in the rather distant future, these regions being Taiwan, Pakistan, the Korean Peninsula, and Central Eurasia. The authors believe the present crisis in Ukraine fits the classical definition of a shatterbelt, a concept that corresponds to the traditional geopolitical model. Here, we see two levels of conflict, the local as a near civil war in Ukraine and the strategic as rivalry for influencing these lands between Putin’s Russia against the Western alliance. The present internationalization of the civil-war turmoil in the region is an emerging shatterbelt, but that also, the Ukrainian shatterbelt could well be signaling either a possible rise of a new cold war or its opposite, a collective-security regime. When groups and states align among themselves within this configuration, a shatterbelt arises, again, currently in Ukraine. This report analyses the ethnic, historic, physical and political environments of the region and the contestants, gleaning aspects from these that have helped to form this structure of strife that could escalate into further and continued violence. Report ends by suggesting six different scenarios that authors predict could happen, each alone or in combination with others, in the near future for the Ukraine crisis.