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Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies; Russian

First Advisor

Samuel Kassow

Second Advisor

Carol Any


Throughout history, positive relationships of powerful states have proven to be of the utmost importance for maintaining stability. In 21st century Europe, one relationship that has particular resonance on the affairs of the continent is that between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Russian Federation. Both of these states are very influential, economically and politically, towards each other and the continent at large. Germany and Russia have both only existed in their current political forms since the end of the Cold War, when Germany was reunited and Russia rose from the ashes of the USSR. Since then, Germany has been a central player in European integration and the EU, while Russia struggled to develop a new orientation without the ideological foundation of communism. In this new post-Cold War environment, Russia and Germany developed a close bilateral partnership. The Ukrainian Crisis, beginning in November 2013 with protests against then-President Yanukovych, proved to be a watershed moment for the development of these ties. As Ukraine convulsed between different presidents and war escalated in the industrial Donbas region, Germany and Russia found themselves in the position of being on opposite sides of the growing geopolitical divide. By analyzing a variety of sources, from a UK parliamentary report released in February 2015 to expert opinions in publications such as the Economist and Foreign Affairs, a picture emerges of the causes and consequences of the conflict for Russo-German relations. The Ukrainian crisis did not emerge from a vacuum but was rather the culmination of long-term issues within the wider context of EU eastward expansion and NATO empowerment in places such as Kosovo. As could be seen in Russian rhetoric, such as President Putin’s October 2014 speech at the Valdai Club in Sochi, Russian feelings of grievance and marginalization were primarily directed at what they regarded as Western unipolarity. However, the chief antagonist in this mindset was not Germany, but the United States. As such Germany has maintained throughout the crisis a privileged diplomatic relationship with the Kremlin. Although there has been noticeable fallout to Russo-German economic ties, with German exports to Russia declining 26 % between August 2013 and August 2014, the Minsk II agreement in February 2015 highlighted the unparalleled access that Chancellor Merkel continues to wield with the Kremlin. This continued diplomacy shows that ultimate resolution of the crisis will likely hinge on the ability of Germany and Russia to work together towards a political compromise. In the wake of the Ukrainian Crisis, the unique bilateral ties between Germany and Russia should be considered more important than ever.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. Full text access is limited to the Trinity campus.