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The Clash of Civilizations


A statist paradigm, for instance, leads John Mearsheimer to predict that ‘the situation between Ukraine and Russsia is ripe for the outbreak of security competition between them. Great powers that share a long and unprotected common border, like that between Russia and Ukraine, often lapse into competition driven by security fears.’ A civilizational approach emphasizes the close cultural, personal, and historical links between Russia and Ukraine and intermingling of Russians and Ukrainians in both countries, and focuses instead on the civilizational fault line that divides Orthodox eastern Ukraine from Uniate western Ukraine, a central historical fact of long standing, which, in keeping with a concept of states as unified and self-identified entities, Mearsheimer totally ignores.

While a statist approach highlights the possibility of a Russian-Ukrainian war, a civilizational approach minimizes that and instead highlights the possibility of Ukraine splitting in half, a separation which cultural factors would lead one to predict might be more violent than that of Czechoslovakia but far less bloody than that of Yugoslavia.