OSW Studies

Ukraine and Russia: mutual relations and the conditions that determine them

Among all of the countries that border Ukraine, the Russian Federation is its most important partner. Ukraine·s relations with Moscow are the key issue of its foreign policy to such an extent that each option of the Ukrainian foreign policy is first and foremost a choice as to the shape of its relations with Russia. This is mainly a consequence of Ukraine·s geographic and geopolitical situation, the legacy of many centuries of political, economic and cultural bonds between these two countries, as well as Russia·s inevitably dominant position in their mutual relations


Furthermore, this is a consequence of the fact that the European Union·s most important partner in the East of Europe is Russia, while Ukraine is viewed (and will continue to be) by the EU mainly in the context of its relations with Russia: the better these relations, the better Ukraine will be perceived by Berlin, Brussels and especially Paris. In the case of the United States the situation is a little different, since the US is interested in the independence of Ukraine·s security policy from that of Russia, nevertheless the Americans also see Ukraine mainly in the context of their relations with Russia. On the other hand, after ten years of Ukraine·s existence as an independent state there is no doubt that this country has no chance of joining NATO or the European Union in the foreseeable future (if ever). This makes the relations between Moscow and Kyiv even more important.