Does Russia impact on governance structures in Ukraine? Does the Russian leadership have either a motive or leverage to shape Ukraine’s political system? What has determined Russian foreign policy vis-à-vis Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union? This paper takes up these questions and investigates the historical background to the current relationship between Russia and Ukraine, outlines the dyadic dependencies and conflicting interests and analyses Russia’s Ukraine policy with a special focus on political practices rather than formal policies. On the one hand, Moscow’s direct impact on Ukraine has declined since the country’s independence in 1991 and its closer affiliation with European structures. On the other hand, Ukraine remains vulnerable to subversive Russian influence deriving from cultural, structural, organisational and societal similarities, as well as from a deep connection between the business elites and populations of both countries. Since the Orange revolution, Russian-Ukrainian relations were increasingly shaped by conflicting political processes under way in both countries with Russia aiming to retain Ukraine within its sphere of influence by creating and strengthening anti-western platforms inside the country.