Outsourced Diplomacy: The Obama Administration and the Ukraine Crisis

  • Deborah Welch Larson


The Obama administration was not involved in the EU’s negotiations of an Association Agreement with Ukraine, which Russian president Putin perceived as infringing on Russia’s sphere of influence. In response to the Russian takeover of Crimea, the Obama administration led the EU in imposing sanctions and isolating Russia. But the United States, viewing the crisis as a largely European problem, outsourced diplomatic responsibility for working out a solution to the prolonged conflict in eastern Ukraine to the EU, particularly Germany.


  1. Allison, R. (2014). Russian ‘Deniable’ Intervention in Ukraine: How and Why Russia Broke the Rules. International Affairs, 90, 255–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Averre, D. (2005). Russia and the European Union: Convergence or Divergence? European Security, 14, 175–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, P. (2009, September 18). Obama Reshapes a Missile Shield to Blunt Tehran. New York Times. Google Scholar
  4. Baker, P. (2014a, February 25). Wary Stance from Obama. New York Times. Google Scholar
  5. Baker, P. (2014b, March 2). Russia to Pay for Ukraine Move? Not So Simple. New York Times, p. 1.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, P. (2014c, March 24). 3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin. New York Times. Google Scholar
  7. Baker, P. (2014d, April 20). In Cold War Echo Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin. New York Times.Google Scholar
  8. Baker, P. (2014e, July 20). With Jet’s Fall War in Ukraine Is Felt Globally. New York Times.Google Scholar
  9. Baker, P., & Chivers, C. J. (2014, April 28). A White House Split Over Russia. New York Times.Google Scholar
  10. Baker, P., & Kanter, J. (2014, July 17). Raising Stakes on Russia, U.S. Adds Sanctions. New York Times.Google Scholar
  11. Baker, P., & Meyers, S. L. (2013, August 8). Ties Fraying Obama Drops Putin Meeting. New York Times.Google Scholar
  12. BBC. (2011, December 8). Russia PM Vladimir Putin Accuses US over Poll Protests. Accessed 21 Aug 2016.
  13. Buckley, N., & Olearchyk, R. (2013, November 23). Which Way to Turn? Financial Times.Google Scholar
  14. Buckley, N., Olearchyk, R., & Spiegel, P. (2014, August 29). Russian Stealth Offensive Seen as Tactic to Freeze Conflict. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  15. Chiacu, D., & Momammed, A. (2014, February 6). Leaked Audio Reveals Embarrassing U.S. Exchange on Ukraine, EU. Reuters. Accessed 21 Aug 2016.
  16. CIA Director Admits He Visited Kiev, Refuses to Call Russia Enemy. (2014, May 11). Accessed 21 Aug 2016.
  17. Dyer, G. (2014a, March 21). Sanctions Serve as Warning Shot to Kremlin. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  18. Dyer, G. (2014b, April 17). White House Goes Too Far in Rejecting Lessons of the Cold War. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  19. Dyer, G., & Oliver, C. (2014, April 15). Quandary for West as Russia Finds Sanctions “Grey Zone”.Google Scholar
  20. Feklyunina, V., & Romanova, V. (2017). Ukraine and Triangular Diplomacy: Kyiv’s Legitimacy Dilemmas in the Midst of the Crisis, this volume.Google Scholar
  21. Gearan, A. (2014, February 6). In Recording of US Diplomat Blunt Talk on Ukraine. Washington Post. Accessed 12 Apr 2016.
  22. Heilbrunn, J. (2015). A Conversation with Henry Kissinger. The National Interest, 139, 12–17.Google Scholar
  23. Herszenhorn, D. M. (2012, December 8). Bill on Russia Trade Ties Sets Off New Acrimony. New York Times.Google Scholar
  24. Herszenhorn, D. M. (2014, April 18). Away from Show of Diplomacy in Geneva Putin Puts on a Show of His Own. New York Times.Google Scholar
  25. Herszenhorn, D. M., & Kramer, A. E. (2013, December 12). Ukraine Forces Retreat Ceding Square to Protests. New York Times.Google Scholar
  26. Herszenhorn, D. M., & Roth, A. (2014, April 8). In East Ukraine, Protesters Seek Russian Troops. New York Times.Google Scholar
  27. Higgins, A. (2014). Sign of a Chill: E.U. Doesn’t Set Table for Putin. New York Times, January 28.Google Scholar
  28. Hill, F., & Gaddy, C. G. (2015). Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hille, K. (2014a, February 27). Ukrainian Port Is Key to Russia’s Naval Power. Financial Times. Accessed 12 Apr 2016.
  30. Hille, K. (2014b, August 8). Moscow’s Move Raises Fears of Damaging Trade Conflict. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  31. House of Lords. (2015, February 20). The EU and Russia: Before and Beyond the Crisis in Ukraine. European Union Committee, 6th Report of Session 2014–15, HL Paper 115. Accessed 21 Aug 2016.
  32. Hudson, J. (2015, June 18). The Undiplomatic Diplomat. Accessed 15 Apr 2016.
  33. Lally, K., & DeYoung, K. (2011, December 8). Putin Accuses Clinton, U.S. of Fomenting Election Protests. Accessed 12 Apr 2016.
  34. Legvold, R. (2016). Return to Cold War. Cambridge, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  35. Lo, B. (2015). Russia and the New World Disorder. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  36. MacFarquhar, N. (2011, October 6). With Rare Double U.N. Veto on Syria, Russia and China Try to Shield Friend. New York Times.Google Scholar
  37. MacFarquhar, N. (2014a, May 8). Putin Hits Pause in Ukraine Crisis Amid Skepticism. New York Times.Google Scholar
  38. MacFarquhar, N. (2014b, September 3). Putin Lays Out Proposal to End Ukraine Conflict. New York Times, p. 1.Google Scholar
  39. MacFarquhar, N. (2014c, September 6). Ukraine Deal Imposes Truce Putin Devised. New York Times.Google Scholar
  40. MacFarquhar, N. (2015, February 13). Ukraine Deal Inspires Hope and Doubts. New York Times.Google Scholar
  41. MacFarquhar, N., & Smale, A. (2014, August 8). Russia Responds to Western Sanctions with Import Bans of Its Own. New York Times.Google Scholar
  42. Mearsheimer, J. J. (2014). Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin. Foreign Affairs, 93(5), 77–89.Google Scholar
  43. Menon, R., & Rumer, E. (2015). Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War Crisis. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  44. Meyers, S.L., & Baker, B. (2014, March 18). Putin Recognizes Crimea Secession Defying the West. New York Times.Google Scholar
  45. Moshes, A. (2012). Russia’s European Policy Under Medvedev: How Sustainable Is a New Compromise? International Affairs, 88, 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Myers, S. L. (2013, September 12). As Obama Pauses Action Putin Takes Center Stage. New York Times.Google Scholar
  47. Myers, S. L. (2015). The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  48. Obama, B. (2014a, March 26). Remarks by the President in Address to European youth. Accessed 13 Apr 2016.
  49. Obama, B. (2014b, September 3). Remarks by President Obama to the People of Estonia Accessed 15 Apr 2016.
  50. Obama, B. (2014c, September 24). Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  51. Olearchyk, R. (2013, August 15). Russia Accused of Triggering Trade War with Ukraine. Financial Times. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  52. Olearchyk, R., & Farchy, J. (2014, September 4). Questions Emerge on Ceasefire Agreement. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  53. Pilkington, E., & Harding, L. (2014, February 7). Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland’s Remarks on EU are Unacceptable. The Guardian. Accessed 12 April 2016.
  54. Preening. (2013, September 28). The Economist, p. 49.Google Scholar
  55. Putin, V. (2011, October 3). A New Integration Project for Eurasia: The Future in the Making. Izvestia, viewed 13 April 2016,
  56. Putin, V. (2014a, March 18). Address by President of the Russian Federation. Accessed 13 Apr 2016.
  57. Putin, V. (2014b, May 23). St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  58. Putin, V. (2014c, October 24). Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. Accessed 15 Apr 2016.
  59. Reversal of Fortune. (2014, September 6). The Economist, pp. 27–29.Google Scholar
  60. Richter, P. (2014, March 30). Obama Puts Ukraine in Perspective. Los Angeles Times.Google Scholar
  61. Richter, P., & Williams, C. J. (2015, February 13). Hands-Off Strategy in Ukraine Spurs Critics of Obama’s Foreign Policy. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 15 Apr 2016.
  62. Sanger, D., & Kramer, A (2010, September 23). U.S. Lauds Russia on Barring Arms for Iran. New York Times.Google Scholar
  63. Smale, A., & Shear, M. D. (2014, March 25). U.S. and Allies Put Russia Out of Group of 8. New York Times. Google Scholar
  64. Spiegel, P., & Gordon, S. (2014, July 30). EU Gets Tough on Russia Sanctions. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  65. Spiegel, P., & Wagstyl, S. (2014, June 5). G7 Chastises Banished Russians. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  66. Spiegel, P., Dyer, G., & Chazan, G. (2014, March 7). West’s Action Against Russia Raises the Stakes in Ukraine. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  67. Stent, A. E. (2014). The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-first Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Summit of Failure: How the EU Lost Russia over Ukraine. (2014, November 24). Spiegel Online International. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  69. Sushko, O. (2013, September). A Fork in the Road? Ukraine Between EU Association and the Eurasian Customs Union. PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo No. 293. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  70. Tavernise, S. (2014, July 18). Jetliner Explodes over Ukraine Struck by a Missile, Officials Say. New York Times.Google Scholar
  71. The Ukraine Blame-Game. (2014, March 8). The Economist, p. 36.Google Scholar
  72. This Is Going to Hurt. (2014, August 2). The Economist, p. 39.Google Scholar
  73. Ukraine Crisis: Transcript of Leaked Nuland-Pyatt Call. (2014, February 7). BBC. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
  74. Wagstyl, S., & Spiegel, P. (2014, February 25). Triumphalism on Hold as West Treats Russia with Respect. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  75. Wagstyl, S., Belton, C., & Dombey, S. (2009, July 7). Presidents Take Pride in Nuclear Arms Pact. Financial Times.Google Scholar
  76. Wilson, A. (2014). Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Wisniewski, P. D. (2013). The Eastern Partnership—It Is High Time to Start a Real “Partnership”. Moscow: Carnegie Moscow Center. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Welch Larson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations