In October 2015, the author wrote an update to this memo to reflect recent developments in Ukraine. Read the update.
Ukraine continues to face internal political turmoil and tense relations with Moscow. This creates conditions in which Ukraine and Russia could fall into a crisis in Crimea or over the supply of Russian natural gas to Ukraine. This Center for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum by Steven Pifer examines how these crisis scenarios could unfold, the implications for the United States, and the steps the U.S. government might take both to reduce the prospects of a crisis and manage it should it occur. Pifer argues that because U.S. tools for managing a crisis are limited, the U.S. interest is in preventive action such as urging Kiev to get its energy house in order and carefully choose its disputes with Moscow, as well as clarifying to Kiev the extent to which support from the United States can be expected in the event of a major confrontation with Russia and being prepared to caution Moscow.