Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Considering Ukraine’s Ethnic Minorities and Their Influence on Russian Foreign Policy

Considering Ukraine’s Ethnic Minorities and Their Influence on Russian Foreign Policy

Abstract

Transnational Ethnic Alliance Theory at its core posits that the majority ethnic group in one state will come to the defense of its ethnic brethren that are a minority in a neighboring state, if that group is facing discrimination or repression. The actions of political leaders in Moscow, who claimed that they were concerned about the Russian minority in Ukraine, suggest that modifications to this theory are necessary. Intervention will only occur when it is in the self-interest of the neighboring state or in the self-interest of the governing elite of that state. Russian perceptions of threats to Russian national interests originating in the West made the interference in the Ukrainian political system more likely. Similar perceptions of threats from abroad to foreign policy interests for other states, or their leaders, could lead to support for ethnic minorities. The resulting modified Transnational Ethnic Alliance Theory can be used as a tool to predict better and explain foreign interference anywhere that ethnic groups overlap between states.

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