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Revecca Pedi

This chapter investigates whether the often misused and misunderstood concept of the buffer state remains significant in the post-Cold War era. With this in mind, the chapter focuses on the case of Ukraine and its relations with Russia and the West. It is suggested that, as the conditions of cooperation and competition between Russia and the West have been significantly different from those of the past, both of them do not perceive small states between them as buffers. Nudged in between great powers, small states that in the past could have played the role of buffer, have now become objects of the competition between great powers and their integration projects. The chapter concludes that small states lying uncomfortably in between great powers remain vulnerable to pressures from their more powerful neighbours: their domestic politics and policies and their external relations are invariably influenced by their geography. However, their own decisions at home and abroad still matter.