This project centers on human development, natural resources, and their changing interactions in the East European triangle of Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. This is a new research agenda in that it combines a broad view on the political economy of the region with a focus on the diverging public spheres and political institutions of Russia, Ukraine and Poland. It is also a pioneering study of demodernization – a phenomenon that has been developing in a number of resource-bound states around the world.

Combining postcolonial and postsocialist insights, we approach the problem of a “fossilized state” – a state whose statehood is based on its dependency on fossil energy – as an interdisciplinary issue that transcends political economy, economic history, international relations, and cultural studies.

Exploring the recent history of Russia, Ukraine and Poland – three neighboring states that feature different institutions but share a similar pool of socialist memories – the project monitors the turning points in their relations. Natural and cultural, economic and political factors determine the choices made by the countries in this region; and these choices interact in complex and unusual ways.

The current depreciation of commodities and the European policy of diversifying energy provide a historical opportunity for changing these hypotheses in real time. In Russia’s resource-bound economy, human capital suffers a vicious circle of decay. Aggression, rivalry and emulation spread this deterioration beyond national borders. This is a circle but there are ways to break out of it.

Comparing contemporary Russia, a resource-bound state that renders its population superfluous, with the illiberal tendencies in Ukraine and Poland, will enable an assessment of how the forces of demodernization pose a European and global challenge.