Vox Populi: Ukrainian Crisis through the Lens of Latin American Public Opinion

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-4-86-94

E. Pavlova, J. Skytte Institute of Government and Politics, University of Tartu, 36-326 Lossi, Tartu, 51003, Estonia (elena.pavlova@ut.ee


During the crisis in Russia’s relations with the Western countries, provoked by the Ukrainian events, it is important to examine the position of countries whose view of the conflict has been either neutral or positive towards Russia. This article focuses on this previously unexplored subject, with help of examining the attitudes in Latin American countries to Russia’s recent policies. Without trying to analyze the conflict as such, it concentrates on the way it is seen by the Latin American public. This is done using two types of sources. The first part of the article presents the discourse analysis results of online media and sites that publish experts’ accounts of world politics. The second part is based on the results of in-depth interviews with experts and civil society activists conducted by the author in Bolivia (La Paz and Cochabamba) in December 2014. In both cases, the findings suggest that Latin American public opinion negatively evaluates what it sees as hegemonic ambitions of the West, but this does not automatically translate into the support of Moscow’s actions. The conflict around Ukraine is seen as a struggle for the spheres of influence, either between Russia and the West, or between the United States and Europe. In any case, Latin America is expected to lose from this struggle between hegemonic powers, because a world order based on influence areas would mean the U.S. unquestionable dominance in the Americas. Thus, Russia’s moral right to intervene in the internal affairs of Ukraine is often questioned, exactly for the reason that it is seen as Moscow’s protection of its own spheres of influence. At the same time, Russia’s actions are often seen as a reaction to an illegitimate intervention on the part of the U.S. or the West as a whole. Besides, there is a hope that Latin America would be able to benefit economically from sanctions imposed on Russia. In sum, Latin American view of the conflict combines economic pragmatism with a strong fear of potential geopolitical consequences.

Acknowledgements. This research was supported by Estonian Research Council (PUT 260).


Ukraine, Latin America, interview, Bolivia, structure of international relations, sphere of influence, hegemony

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For citation:
Pavlova E. Vox Populi: Ukrainian Crisis through the Lens of Latin American Public Opinion. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2016, vol. 60, No 4, pp. 86-94. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-4-86-94

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