1.1 Background of the study
According to Benkovskis (2022) twenty-five years after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the current acute crisis in Russian-Western ties is not only a tremendous setback, but it is also escalating into a hazardous geopolitical clash. The conflict's economic ramifications are as serious: not just for Russia (and, of course, first and foremost for Ukraine), but also for Europe's still-fragile economic recovery (Brill,2022). The conflict's ramifications stymie desperately needed investments and GDP development in Russia, which was already "locked in transition and stagnation" before the present crisis occurred, as well as economic reform and modernization (Benkovskis,2022). The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the economic strength of Ukraine, the European Union, and its even Russia. Needless to say, Ukraine is the major victim of the war, where, in addition to the already-inflicted human and material losses, a terrible economic slump has set in (Gaddy,2022). A protracted civil war in eastern Ukraine, resulting in a "frozen conflict" like to that in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, or Nagorno Karabakh (although on a much bigger scale), is now a distinct possibility (Gaddy,2022). The de facto breakup of Ukraine that has resulted is a significant danger with global implications that go well beyond the scope of this study. Although Russia is often blamed in the West for the war after the invasion of Crimea and subsequent involvement in eastern Ukraine, the blame cannot be placed exclusively on Russia or even on Mr. Putin (in Russia a fair share of the blame is put on the West) (Copsey,2022). The dispute has a lengthy history (Brill,2014). The EU's disastrous (mis)management of the Ukrainian issue (preceded by the Eastern Partnership (EaP) plan) has also contributed to the current geopolitical strife. The tug of war between Russia and the EU over Ukraine intensified in the second half of 2013, just before the EU and four EaP countries (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) were set to sign Association Agreements (which included a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area AA/DCFTA) in November 2013. After the terms of the AA/DCFTA became public in the summer of 2013, both Russia and Ukraine were abruptly awakened to the potential negative economic effects of signing the agreement. Russia has begun to adopt and 'test' remedies (and has promised to enact more), such as import restrictions on Ukraine and Moldova, who are also EaP nations(Raik,2014). The Russian threats were partially effective: in September 2013, Armenia chose not to sign the AA/DCFTA with the EU, opting instead to join the Russian-led Customs Union and Eurasian Union alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan (Copsey,2014). Just days before the Vilnius EaP Summit in November 2013, Ukraine's President V. Yanukovych announced the postponing of the AA/DCFTA signing - a move that ignited the first wave of demonstrations (Deutsche, 2014). The rapid sequence of events following the failed Vilnius Summit in November 2013 is well known: violent mass protests on Kyiv's Maidan in February 2014, EU-sponsored mediation between protestors and the Yanukovych government (involving foreign affairs ministers from France, Germany, and Poland), and so on. In February 2014, representatives of Maidan demonstrators, President Yanukovych, and EU mediators struck an agreement that called for early elections and constitutional amendments in the fall. However, President Yanukovych's ouster and flight to Russia the next day, as well as the controversial formation of a new transitory government in Kyiv (whose legitimacy was questioned in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, but backed by the West) led by Mr Yatsenyuk as acting Prime Minister and new parliamentary speaker Mr Turchynov, sparked internal conflict in Ukraine (Füle, 2013). In March 2014, the annexation of Crimea by Russia provoked the first wave of Western sanctions. In contrast to Crimea, where the 'reunification' was peaceful, anti-Maidan protests in eastern Ukraine (as well as Odessa in southern Ukraine) became violent as the new government in Kyiv attempted to reclaim control over the rebellious regions through force, involving both regular military troops and freelance fighters, mostly from western Ukraine Deutsche (2015). Mr Poroshenko, an oligarch with holdings in the food and media sectors, was elected president with a clear majority vote on May 26, 2014; the result was' respected' by Russia, but not by separatists in Donbass, who do not recognize the government in Kyiv and instead declare independence. After the tragic downing of a Malaysian passenger jet on 17 July 2014, the situation in eastern Ukraine (and the corresponding Western sanctions) deteriorated even worse, with the cause of the catastrophe still unknown. Despite a tenuous truce agreed in Minsk in September 2014 between representatives of Kyiv authorities, Moscow, and Donbass rebels with the help of the OSCE and the EU, no long-term solution to the war is in sight. Only dialogue involving representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the EU along the lines recommended previously. by Havlik (2013), and more recently by Emerson (2014) and others, may serve to de-escalate and perhaps settle the current crisis. On September 16, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament and the European parliament both accepted the AA/DCFTA, albeit the implementation of trade-related clauses (DCFTA) would be delayed until the end of 2015, reflecting the trilateral agreement between the EU, Ukraine, and Russia. The present situation between Russia and Ukraine will increasingly have an adverse effect on the economy of Ukraine and even Europe as a whole as the impact of the war stretches beyond Ukraine's borders, and the rises in global energy prices in particular, as does inflation" (Inayeh,2022). Food prices have also been pushed up by the war, and "are a very real consideration and problem for people in poor countries". Both Russia and Ukraine are big food producers. Ukraine is the world's biggest producer of sunflower oil, with Russia number two, according to (Benkovskis,2022), Between them they account for 60% of global production. The two countries also account for 28.9% of global wheat exports according (Benkovskis,2022). Wheat prices on the Chicago future exchange have been trading at 14-year highs. Russian supplies of these commodities are being restricted because of the widespread sanctions which make it hard for the rest of the world to buy its products. Ukrainian supplies have been stopped because fighting has closed the country's ports (Raik,2022). Hence the need to look into the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the economic strength of Ukraine.