Sunday, 20 June 2021

Lex Portus

Tetyana Malyarenko*

China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the Contested Eastern Neighborhood: A Case Study of Ukraine

Full text PDF [EN]

Suggested citation:

Malyarenko, T. (2021). China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the Contested Eastern Neighborhood: A Case Study of Ukraine. Lex Portus, (7)2, 39-63.

*Lecturer, Justus-Liebig Universitat Giessen (Ludwigstraße 23, 35390 Gießen, Germany).



In this article I argue that the increasingly three-sided competition for influence – between Russia, China and the West in and over Ukraine – has created a new space for autonomous decision making and can increase Ukraine’s own agency when it comes to strategic geopolitical and geo-economic choices in its foreign policy. Relying on competition theory to determine competitive influence-seeking policies of great powers and strategies of smaller states, I propose a ‘smart leadership’ strategy for Ukraine, aimed at the management of its status in the Russia-China-West triangle. In the first part of article, I outline Ukraine’s national interests. This is followed by a consideration of the geopolitical and geo-economic environment in which Ukraine has operated until recently before I detail the changes in this environment that are related to the increased economic significance that China has assumed for Ukraine. In the second part, I consider what smart leadership would look like if Ukraine were to escape its current dual entrapment of positioning of a small state in the geopolitical competition of great powers.

The key words: Belt and Road Initiative, geo-economics, great power, competition, leadership.



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Editorial Board Address

Ukraine, Odesa, Fontanska Doroga, 23
National University “Odessa Academy of Law”,
Department of Maritime and Customs Law