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  • Author: Paul Stronski, Richard Sokolsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, and especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the Kremlin has intensified its engagement with international institutions. This paper evaluates the drivers of this involvement, Russian views of three of these organizations, and Moscow’s success in achieving its objectives.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Multilateralism, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Remler
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The central task for Russian foreign policy in the era of President Vladimir Putin has been to regain the undisputed recognition that Russia is a world power like the Soviet Union before it, a status to which Russia feels entitled.1 The United Nations (UN) is Russia’s most important venue for putting its global aspirations and achievements on display. Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council boosts its claim to be part of a global oligarchy and grants it the power to veto or undermine initiatives that it deems contrary to its interests. The concepts underlying Russia’s use of the UN to promote its aspirations form the subject of this paper. Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, devotes great resources to its missions at the UN, especially New York and Geneva. It traditionally cultivates extensive expertise among its mission members, appointing them to UN postings several times over their careers and leaving them in place for long periods. Russian diplomats are noted for their abilities in drafting highly technical UN documents in English—none more so than Sergey Lavrov, currently Russia’s foreign minister and formerly its permanent representative to the UN from 1994 to 2004.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Power Politics, Law, Geopolitics, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Nations
  • Author: Robert Springborg, F.C. "Pink" Williams, John Zavage
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The United States, Russia, and Iran have chosen markedly different approaches to security assistance in the Middle East, with dramatic implications for statebuilding and stability. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s testing ground for the effectiveness of security assistance provided by global and regional powers. That security assistance has contributed to the intensity and frequency of proxy wars—such as those under way or recently wound down in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—and to the militarization of state and substate actors in the MENA region. Security assistance is at the core of struggles for military, strategic, ideological, and even economic preeminence in the Middle East. Yet despite the broad and growing importance of security assistance for the region and for competition within it between global and regional actors, security assistance has been the subject of relatively little comparative analysis. Efforts to assess relationships between the strategic objectives and operational methods of security assistance providers and their relative impacts on recipients are similarly rare.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Political stability, State Building
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For decades, policy debates in nuclear-armed states and alliances have centered on the question, “How much is enough?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are enough to credibly deter given adversaries? This paper argues that the more urgent question today is, “How much is too much?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are too likely to produce humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would be strategically and legally indefensible? Two international initiatives could help answer this question. One would involve nuclear-armed states, perhaps with others, commissioning suitable scientific experts to conduct new studies on the probable climatic and environmental consequences of nuclear war. Such studies would benefit from recent advances in modeling, data, and computing power. They should explore what changes in numbers, yields, and targets of nuclear weapons would significantly reduce the probability of nuclear winter. If some nuclear arsenals and operational plans are especially likely to threaten the global environment and food supply, nuclear-armed states as well as non-nuclear-weapon states would benefit from actions to physically reduce such risks. The paper suggests possible modalities for international debate on these issues. The second initiative would query all nuclear-armed states whether they plan to adhere to international humanitarian law in deciding if and when to detonate nuclear weapons, and if so, how their arsenals and operational plans affirm their intentions (or not). The United Kingdom and the United States have committed, in the words of the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, to “adhere to the law of armed conflict” in any “initiation and conduct of nuclear operations.” But other nuclear-armed states have been more reticent, and the practical meaning of such declarations needs to be clarified through international discussion. The two proposed initiatives would help states and civil society experts to better reconcile the (perceived) need for nuclear deterrence with the strategic, legal, and physical imperatives of reducing the probability that a war escalates to catastrophic proportions. The concern is not only for the well-being of belligerent populations, but also for those in nations not involved in the posited conflict. Traditional security studies and the policies of some nuclear-armed states have ignored these imperatives. Accountable deterrents—in terms of international law and human survival—would be those that met the security and moral needs of all nations, not just one or two. These purposes may be too modest for states and activists that prefer the immediate prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. Conversely, advocates of escalation dominance in the United States and Russia—and perhaps in Pakistan and India—will find the force reductions and doctrinal changes implied by them too demanding. Yet, the positions of both of these polarized groups are unrealistic and/or unacceptable to a plurality of attentive states and experts. To blunt efforts to stifle further analysis and debate of these issues, the appendix of this paper heuristically rebuts leading arguments against accountable deterrents. Middle powers and civil society have successfully put new issues on the global agenda and created political pressure on major powers to change policies. Yet, cooperation from at least one major nuclear power is necessary to achieve the changes in nuclear deterrent postures and policies explored here. In today’s circumstances, China may be the pivotal player. The conclusion suggests ways in which China could extend the traditional restraint in its nuclear force posture and doctrine into a new approach to nuclear arms control and disarmament with the United States and Russia that could win the support of middle powers and international civil society. If the looming breakdown in the global nuclear order is to be averted, and the dangers of nuclear war to be lessened, new ideas and political coalitions need to gain ascendance. The initiatives proposed here intended to stimulate the sort of analysis and debate from which such ideas and coalitions can emerge.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Environment, Nuclear Power, Weapons , Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Russia, China, India, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Weiss
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A blend of new threats and opportunities is causing Moscow to take greater risks and embrace more flamboyant policies in Europe. The Kremlin’s relationships with Italy and Austria shine a spotlight on how Europe’s domestic troubles have opened many doors for Moscow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Populism, Far Right
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy, Austria
  • Author: James M. Acton
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Ambiguity about whether a weapon is nuclear-armed prior to its launch is an underappreciated, serious, and growing danger. Rising geopolitical tensions and the decay of arms control are exacerbating the risk that such pre-launch warhead ambiguity could lead to nuclear use in a crisis or conflict. Recent developments in technology—as well as potential future advances, such as the development of ambiguous intercontinental missiles—further add to the danger. A first step toward reducing these risks is to enhance awareness among decisionmakers of the causes and potential consequences of ambiguity. Unilateral and cooperative risk-mitigation measures could further reduce the danger of escalation, including in conflicts between the United States and Russia or the United States and China.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, United States of America
  • Author: Sakari Ishetiar
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Woodrow Wilson School Journal of Public and International Affairs
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Russia’s abstention from UNSCR 1973, which allowed a no-fly zone in Libya and ultimately led to the collapse of the Qadhafi regime, has resounded across both Russian foreign policy and the security environment of the Near East. Competing theories claim the abstention was either a carefully-planned strategy or a tactical miscalculation, but the result—Russian rejection of regime decapitation and Western distaste for further intervention—is easily observed. In addition to tangible military and political benefits, the chaotic and unsustainable Libyan status quo bolsters Russia’s political capital by discrediting that of the West. Although Russia is unlikely to intervene kinetically in Libya, it can passively destabilize the country at almost no cost, stymying Western efforts to end the crisis. Only by recognizing and accommodating Russia’s interests in Libya can the West negotiate a lasting settlement for Libya and secure vital U.S. interests in the region.
  • Topic: Civil War, Sovereignty, Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Conflict, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Sagatom Saha, Theresa Lou
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Woodrow Wilson School Journal of Public and International Affairs
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Increasing military and economic cooperation between Russia and China has led some to believe that America's two primary adversaries are joining together in an anti-U.S. alliance. However, this emerging relationship amounts to little more than a convenient alignment rather than a steadfast alliance. This analysis delves into emerging Sino-Russian competition and cooperation in Central Asia and the Arctic to illustrate diverging strategic interests and also provides recommendations for U.S. policymakers to capitalize on divides between America's competitors.
  • Topic: Grand Strategy, Alliance, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Yehuda Shaffer, Stefan D. Cassella
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In the past few years, a number of European banks have been implicated in money laundering scandals in countries such as Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, and, most recently, Scandinavia. Although European and international voices are putting pressure to take further action by all including the banks against this, the issue continues to emerge in the continent. In this short article, we attempt to explain this trend and how might it be resolved.
  • Topic: Crime, Economics, Finance, Business , Financial Crimes, Banks, Currency
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union, Latvia, Scandinavia, Cyprus, Malta
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to power in 2019 promising to bring peace to Ukraine’s Donbas region, where government and Russian-backed separatist forces are locked in low-level combat. Yet a full, sustained ceasefire remains elusive. Although casualties have dropped from their 2014-2015 peak, fighting continues to kill soldiers and civilians. Why does it matter? Each of the warring parties wants a ceasefire but only if it will lead to peace on its own terms. All prefer to tolerate continued fighting rather than stop the shooting under conditions they deem unfavourable. What should be done? A comprehensive ceasefire is likely unattainable under today’s political conditions. In its absence, the parties should pursue sectoral bilateral disengagements with clear humanitarian and related goals, even as they seek a durable political settlement through talks.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Peace, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the Syrian regime’s offensive in Idlib paused, the time is now for a deal sparing the rebellion’s last stronghold the full wrath of reconquest. The parties should pursue an improved ceasefire including the regime, Russia, Turkey and the Islamist militants entrenched in the province. What’s new? A Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive against rebel-held Idlib halted when Russia and Turkey negotiated a ceasefire in March. Turkey is sending reinforcements, signalling a military response to what it deems a national security threat. For now, this step may dissuade Russia from resuming the offensive, but the standoff appears untenable. Why does it matter? Successive Russian-Turkish ceasefires in Idlib have collapsed over incompatible objectives, diverging interpretations and exclusion of the dominant rebel group, Hei’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is UN-sanctioned and considered by Russia and others a terrorist organisation. A Russian-backed regime offensive to retake Idlib likely would result in humanitarian catastrophe. What should be done? All actors should seek a more sustainable ceasefire – optimally including HTS, notwithstanding legitimate concerns about the group – that avoids the high military, political and humanitarian price of another offensive. Turkey should push HTS to continue distancing itself from transnational militancy and display greater tolerance for political and religious pluralism.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Syrian War, Islamism, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: To help Ukraine find peace, the EU, NATO, and member states must seek new approaches to arms control discussions with Russia and European security as a whole. They should also consider a more flexible sanctions policy, such that progress in Ukraine may lead to incremental easing. What’s new? Russia’s Ukraine policy, including its military intervention, is driven both by Moscow’s goals in Ukraine itself and its longstanding desire to revise Europe’s security order. Western responses are similarly driven by both Ukraine-specific and Europe-wide interests. A sustainable peace plan must address both sets of factors. Why does it matter? Efforts to make peace in Ukraine by solving problems specific to Ukraine only will fail, because the causes of the conflict are both local and geostrategic. A truly sustainable peace should address European security as a whole to make Russia, its neighbours and the entire continent safer. What should be done? European states should engage Russia in discussions of European security, including regional and sub-regional arms limitations. They should also consider adjusting the current sanctions regime to allow for the lifting of some penalties if Russia contributes to real progress toward peace.
  • Topic: NATO, War, Sanctions, European Union, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Jeffrey H. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In the Declaration that emerged from the Decem- ber 2019 London Leaders Meeting, NATO Secre- tary General Jens Stoltenberg was tasked to present Foreign Ministers with “a forward-looking reflection process under his auspices, drawing on relevant exper- tise, to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation”. This new tasking has been largely attributed to French President Emmanuel Ma- cron’s remark the previous month that the Alliance was suffering from “brain death”. Speaking at a press conference alongside Stoltenberg, Macron elaborated on his comment, complaining the Alliance was overly focused on “cost-sharing or burden-sharing” whereas too little attention was being placed on major policy issues such as “peace in Europe, the post-INF, the re- lationship with Russia, the issue of Turkey, who is the enemy?”3
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, Turkey, North America
  • Author: Abdurrahman Utku Hacioglu
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: India is a country rarely discussed in any of NA- TO’s operational activities, regional dialogues, or global partnerships. This rarity, however, is likely to change because of shifting political and economic trends, emerging threats from outside NATO’s tradi- tional Euro-Atlantic area, and the necessity to adapt to changing circumstances. Taking account of the emerging multi-polarity in the Asia-Pacific and the US resistance to change, India will become a key country to counter-balance China’s and Russia’s growing influ- ence, to project stability and strengthen security in the Asia-Pacific region in the near future. NATO should take advantage of the opportunity, consider India as a key strategic partner, and include India within NA- TO’s growing strategic partnership framework as a “Partner Across the Globe”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Russia, North Atlantic, India, Asia, North America
  • Author: Andrea Gilli
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The continuing role of nuclear weapons for NATO security was the focus of a Workshop for early- to mid-career nuclear strategists convened at the NATO Defense College in July 2019, and organized and run by Andrea Gilli. The articles in this volume, which were drafted by several of the speakers at the event, highlight a number of the most critical challenges to NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy and propose recommendations for further NATO action. Carrie Lee provides detailed analysis on the development of hypersonic missile systems by great powers, assesses their unique characteristics and reviews the potential implications of these systems on strategic stability and deterrence. Jacek Durkalec dives deep into Russia’s nuclear strategy and doctrine and proposes some additional steps that NATO can take to be more effective in deterring Russia. Katarzyna Kubiak examines the security challenges posed by the end of the INF Treaty and assesses a range of nuclear response options that NATO could consider. Finally, Harrison Menke reviews Russia’s integration of conventional and nuclear forces in its defence strategy and argues that NATO should take steps to better align its own conventional and nuclear forces and operations in order to enhance deterrence.
  • Topic: NATO, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Marcin Kaczmarski
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s operations and reach are increasingly becoming global. This is the common message affirmed by the four articles contained in this special edition collection. Given Russia’s growing presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), particularly in Syria and Libya, and the deepening level of cooperation with China, what is one to make of it? Six years ago, President Obama dubbed Russia to be “a regional power”, and Russia’s actions along its borders would certainly attest to having at least aspirations of projecting power in the region. This was most clearly observable in, first, Georgia and then Ukraine through military and clandestine operations. Indeed going back over a decade, Moscow has made no secret of the fact that it has a right to “privileged” status in its neighbourhood as then President Medvedev claimed.1 However, Russia’s most recent foreign endeavours are increasingly pointing to the emergence of a broader and more global approach, one that not only asserts Russian economic interests, but also an intention to shape the global environment. The picture is still emerging, but Russia’s actions in Asia and the MENA region could represent bellwethers for what is to come. These articles explore Russia’s actions in both regions in addition to the question of Russia’s global strategy.
  • Topic: NATO, Imperialism, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Giuliano Garavini
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Oil markets are facing a perfect storm. The scissors of supply and demand are moving against one another, generating increasing pain on the oil industry and the political and financial stability of oil-producing countries. Global oil demand is dropping due to the recession induced by the COVID-19 shut down of economic activity and transport in the most industrialized countries. Goldman Sachs predicts that global demand could drop from 100 million barrels per day (mdb) in 2019 to nearly 80 mdb in 2020.1 If confirmed, this would be single biggest demand shock since petroleum started its race to become the most important energy source in the world.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Oil, Global Markets, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Global Focus
  • Author: Nona Mikhelidze
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 25 March, one month after Russia registered its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced a week of paid national holiday and invited Russians to stay home in a televised address to the nation. Further measures were subsequently introduced to limit the spread of the virus, while authorities prepared emergency plans to safeguard socio-economic conditions in the country. Initiatives included providing a new support package to businesses hit by the pandemic, a monthly bonus to medical personnel and the construction of new hospitals, following the Chinese model. Meanwhile, the constitutional referendum meant to extend Putin’s term limit as president was postponed. Originally scheduled for 22 April, this delay is due to Putin’s concern for public health and the multidimensional impact of the pandemic, a perfect storm involving quarantine measures, declining living standards, inflation and a weakened exchange rate, rising prices and increased job insecurity. Taken together, these challenges could jeopardise the outcome of the referendum. A recent poll conducted by the Levada Center in March highlighted a very slim majority (45 per cent) in favour of Putin’s constitutional amendments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Soft Power, Coronavirus, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Jakob Lindgaard, Moritz Pieper, Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Turkey-NATO relations are still sufficiently strong to keep the relationship from the brink, a new DIIS-report finds. But more dynamics are also gaining strength to render further troubles increasingly likely. The future of Turkey’s NATO membership has been the subject of heated debate of late, from both outside and within Turkey. What ramifications will Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air anti-missile system have for Turkey’s NATO future? Has the Syrian conflict exposed deep strategic differences between Turkey and other key NATO members? In response to such questions, a number of foreign policy practitioners as well as researchers and long-standing Turkey watchers have cautioned that a number of centripetal forces – dynamics that keep member states together - remain sufficiently strong at a structural level to keep Turkey-NATO relations on track. There seems to be widespread agreement on both sides that the alternative is simply worse. At the same time, the report also argues that these centripetal forces are losing their strength, and that centrifugal forces pulling the alliance apart are gaining strength and salience. Barring wild card developments, the net result is that this will increase the likelihood of further troubles ahead for Turkey-NATO relations The report is based on an analysis of the published policy commentary, scholarly literature, as well as a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with practitioners and academic experts during the course of 2019.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Denmark
  • Author: Vibeke Schou Tjalve
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: A strategic and ideological alliance has emerged between the American and Central Eastern European Right. Replacing Berlin with Warsaw and Budapest may have profound implications for policy, and for NATO’s consensus on Russia.
  • Topic: NATO, Alliance, Ideology, Radical Right
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe, Germany
  • Author: Huba Wass de Czege
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Does The US Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 lack a clear theory of victory? A comparative analysis of the development of MDO and the historical concepts of Active Defense and AirLand Battle reveals the necessity of greater insight into sources of Russian and Chinese behavior and countering mechanisms, what constitutes effective deterrence, and greater clarity regarding the political will of Allies to assist in this deterrence.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Army
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After the fall of Sirte, Erdogan and Putin’s desired ceasefire can only be achieved with Washington’s support. Over the past week, regional and European actors have increased their diplomatic activity around Libya in response to intensifying violence in the nine-month-old civil war. On January 8, less than a week after the Turkish parliament approved sending forces to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul and called for a Libya ceasefire to begin on January 12. Whether or not Moscow and Ankara manage to pause the violence temporarily, their growing influence in Libya represents an epic failure of Western attempts to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The longer-term effort to jumpstart Libya’s political transition requires a wider international effort at peace and reconciliation—something Russia and Turkey can support but not lead. Putin and Erdogan seemed to acknowledge that fact at their summit, endorsing a long-planned multilateral conference in Berlin aimed at recommitting all relevant actors to support an end to hostilities and respect the UN Security Council’s mandatory but widely ignored arms embargo. Even assuming Putin is serious and withdraws Russian mercenaries from the frontlines, a full, lasting ceasefire cannot transpire until the other actors who support Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) agree to withdraw their equipment and personnel for a fixed period while negotiations are launched—especially the United Arab Emirates, which provides the LNA with critical air superiority. At the same time, Turkey would have to take commensurate de-escalatory steps of its own. The United States is the only actor that holds enough weight with all the foreign parties to bring about an authentic ceasefire. Despite being consumed with crises in Iran and Iraq, Washington should expend the diplomatic effort required to pursue durable stability in Libya before the country slips further toward endemic chaos.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously maximalist strategy. Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December, renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border, creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far. Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies. On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the war years in Syria, the northwest, specifically Idlib, has become a site of heavy internal displacement. Observers on the ground recognize the green buses traveling to Idlib carrying migrants who have refused reconciliation agreements with the Damascus regime. Since around 2014, a range of jihadist, Islamist, and Salafi actors have wielded control in the area, the most recent being the al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has ruled—ineffectively and brutally—through its so-called Syrian Salvation Government. But the group's reign is unlikely to last long if current trends persist. The regime's recent move against the town of Maarat al-Numan suggests plans for a broader takeover in the northwest, aided by Russian firepower and other allies such as Iran. In this Policy Note filled with local insights, jihadism expert Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi presents the current scene in and around Idlib province, the last Syrian outpost still run by independent rebels. Absent an intervention by Turkey, the Assad regime will likely prevail in a campaign that quashes the insurgency at a high humanitarian cost.
  • Topic: Al Qaeda, Displacement, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Charles Thépaut
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest conference is to succeed, the principal actors stoking the civil war must endorse a genuine ceasefire and a return to Libyan internal dialogue. On January 19, international leaders will convene in Berlin to discuss a way out of the nine-month civil war between the so-called “Libyan National Army” led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. The Germans led several months of preparatory efforts at the request of UN envoy Ghassan Salame, but had been reluctant to choose a specific date until they were assured that the event stood a reasonable chance of producing practical steps to improve the situation on the ground and jumpstart the UN’s stalled negotiation efforts between the LNA and GNA. Chancellor Angela Merkel finally took that step after several key developments unfolded earlier this month, including a January 8 ceasefire proposal by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Putin’s subsequent failed attempt to have each side sign a more permanent ceasefire agreement in Moscow on January 13 (the GNA signed but Haftar balked, though most of the fighting has paused for the moment). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been averse to engage on Libya during his tenure, but he is expected to attend the Berlin conference alongside National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Accordingly, the event gives the United States a chance to play a much-needed role on several fronts: namely, pressuring the foreign actors who have perpetuated the war and violated the arms embargo; working with Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia to codify a ceasefire at the UN Security Council; and backing Salame’s efforts to reinvigorate the Libyan national dialogue, which Haftar preempted by attacking Tripoli last April despite European support to Salame. Since 2011, Libya has struggled to establish a legitimate transitional government despite three national elections and the creation of at least four legislative bodies. Challenges to the 2014 election results eventually led to rival governments in the east and west, and the division solidified when Haftar started the first civil war with support from his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. That war halted in 2015, but several years’ worth of domestic and international efforts failed to bring Sarraj and Haftar to an enduring resolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation, Conference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, Germany, North Africa, United Arab Emirates, Berlin, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As in other conflict zones, Moscow cares little about reaching a peace deal so long as it can outmaneuver the West strategically while securing port and energy access—with private contractors playing an increasingly important role. The Kremlin is now openly treating Libya as another focal point of its Middle East activities. After years of U.S. neglect, the country has turned into a proxy war playground, and President Vladimir Putin is vying to become the chief power broker. Earlier this month, he tried (but failed) to get Khalifa Haftar to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). Putin also participated in the January 19 Berlin conference aimed at getting the parties back on the path toward a political solution. And though the prospects for such a deal remain uncertain, Moscow’s involvement in Libya will continue either way.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Civil War, Geopolitics, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Frank Aum, Jacob Stokes, Patricia M. Kim, Atman M. Trivedi, Rachel Vandenbrink, Jennifer Staats, Joseph Yun
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A joint statement by the United States and North Korea in June 2018 declared that the two countries were committed to building “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Such a peace regime will ultimately require the engagement and cooperation of not just North Korea and the United States, but also South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. This report outlines the perspectives and interests of each of these countries as well as the diplomatic, security, and economic components necessary for a comprehensive peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula, United States of America
  • Author: Alicia Campi
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Dr Alicia Campi, President of the Mongolia Society, explains that “The [“Third Neighbor”] policy was reinterpreted in content and meaning to include cultural and economic partners as diverse as India, Brazil, Kuwait, Turkey, Vietnam, and Iran. With increased superpower rivalry in its region, Mongolia has expanded this basic policy.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Turkey, India, Mongolia, Asia, Kuwait, Brazil, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kirill Semenov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The situation in Idlib poses a challenge to the Assad government. Damascus has neither the forces nor the means to resolve the problem. Moreover, any operation conducted against the Syrian moderate opposition and the radical alliance “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) concentrated in this region could be significantly problematic for the government. Turkey seeks to establish a protectorate or security zone in Idlib to accommodate those fleeing regime-held areas and prevent a new refugees flow into Turkey. The gains achieved by the Turkish operation in Idlib by the establishment of the security zone has potentially been lost as a result of the subsequent Russian backed Syrian government offensive, which has created a problem for Turkey with hundreds of thousands heading toward the Turkish border and threatening to exasperate what is already a costly refugee problem for Ankara. In order for Turkey to address issues in Idlib, including IDPs and economic problems, it first needs to deal with the HTS, ideally finding a way to dissolve the group. This could potentially be an area of cooperation for Moscow and Ankara. This may be necessary to prevent a deterioration in the security situation and long-term destabilisation of the area.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Displacement, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Serhat Erkmen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Peace Spring Operation (PSO), launched on 9 October 2019, was Turkey’s military/diplomatic/political offensive against the People's Defence Units (YPG) in Syria and beyond and was triggered by key dynamics in the country. The first was the redeployment of US troops in the northeast of Syria; second was the expansion of Russia’s area of influence towards the east of the Euphrates; third was the launch of a new phase of the Assad government’s operation in Idlib; forth was a re-evaluation of YPG’s patron-client relationship with the United States and the European Union. Turkey sought to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state and to address the Syrian refugee issue. While Turkey was able to achieve some strategic gains via the PSO, many challenges remain which prevent Ankara from achieving all its objectives. This paper argues that PSO should be analysed in the context of Turkey’s two former operations in Syria, Euphrates Shield Operation (ESO) and Olive Branch Operation (OBO).
  • Topic: Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Transition, YPG
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Nikolay Sukhov
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Russian leadership believes that the Constitutional Committee (CC) is a key factor in a political settlement in Syria. Russia hopes that the West, primarily the EU, adhering to the principle of “no reconstruction without a political transition”1, would regard the launch of the CC as the beginning of this political process and increase humanitarian aid to Syrians living in government- controlled territory. Russia's position on the constitution issue differs from that of the Syrian government. However, glimmer of hope could come from events in northeast Syria2, which has strengthened position of the opposition in the CC. Yet, neither Russia, nor Syria, are ready to recognise this reality. The Russian leadership is not likely to promote rapprochement between the Syrian government and the opposition on reform issues, as Russia perceives these to be the internal affairs of Syria. In Russia, it is perceived that the constitutional, and later, the political process based on the new constitution, could facilitate the return of refugees. The next step after the adoption of the new constitution should be legislative reform, which would bring Syrian legislation into line with the constitution. The topic of legislative reform in Syria could become bargaining tool for Europe in negotiations with Russia. If Europe wishes to stabilise the situation in Syria and the Middle East, it should first participate in reconstruction efforts by reviving the economy, and thereby Syrian civil society. This would be an indirect stimulation of political reforms. In this case, European leaders need to develop a long-term strategy aimed at improving Syrian society, preventing radical ideas, terrorism and possible new waves of migration to Europe. Russia could contribute to the implementation of European initiatives as the interests of Russia and Europe to stabilise Syria and the region coincide.
  • Topic: Constitution, Syrian War, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Miroslav Tuma
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The New START Treaty, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, will expire in February 2021. According to the assessment of most arms control experts and, for example, the former US and Russian Foreign Ministers, the non-extension of the New Start Treaty will have a number of negative effects. What are the possibilities of the subsequent development if the last US-Russian control-arms contract New START is not extended? And what would that mean for strategic use of the universe? The unfavorable security situation in the world in recent years is characterized, among other things, by deepening crisis of the bilateral arms-control system between the USA and Russia, built since the 1970s. The urgency of addressing this situation is underlined by the fact that both countries own about 90% of all nuclear weapons that they modernize, introduce new weapon systems into their equipment, and reduce the explosiveness of nuclear warheads and thus their declared applicability in regional conflicts. The culmination of this crisis may be the expiry of the US-Russian New START treaty which limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads and strategic carriers. Concerns about the consequences of non-prolongation are, among others, raised by the expected disruption of space strategic stability, which could occur as a result of eventual termination of the complex verification system. In addition to notifications, the exchange of telemetry and information, on-the-spot inspections, etc., the termination would relate in particular to the contractual non-interference in the verification work carried out by National Technical Means (NTMs).
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eoin Micheál McNamara
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Eoin Micheál McNamara in his Policy Paper called The Visegrád Four and the Security of NATO’s “Eastern Flank” expresses the argument that there is considerable scope for the V4 states to improve their contribution to NATO’s collective defence posture. Based on this fact, he argues the different strategic positions of each V4 member within the NATO membership related to Russian influence.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Mark Galeotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In March 2019, the European Parliament formally voted on a resolution that “Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner.” This was a non-binding political resolution, though, and it is still unclear what is behind the EU’s Russia policy. A particular problem in formulating EU-wide responses to Russian political war is the breadth of opinion between member states and organizational culture – and often institutional requirement – for consensus or unanimity.
  • Topic: European Union, Political Science, European Parliament
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Artur Kacprzyk
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Trump administration is sceptical about extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START, NST), which is to expire in 2021. It wants to sign a new deal with Russia and China covering all kinds of nuclear weapons. It will not be possible, however, to negotiate such a complex agreement before NST expires. In effect, there is a growing risk of a collapse of U.S.-Russia strategic arms control, which would negatively affect NATO as well: it would deepen both the divisions over the future of deterrence policy within the Alliance and the differences in the U.S. Congress on the modernisation of America’s nuclear forces.
  • Topic: NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Łukasz Maślanka
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron initiated a Franco-Russian dialogue aimed at improving bilateral relations, as well as EU-Russia relations. This effort could be confounded by the growing Russian engagement in Africa, mainly through their military, business, and propaganda activities. These are increasingly harmful to France, which traditionally engages in the politics and economies of African states. The French government hasn’t yet prepared any coherent strategy vis-à-vis the Russian challenge, preferring to wait it out.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Europe, Eurasia, France
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia is strengthening its relations with both the Palestinian Authority leadership and Hamas in Gaza Strip. It is part of Russia’s consistent strategy towards the Middle East to build a network of influence among regional actors and boost its image as an attractive political partner. In developing relations with the Palestinians, Russia exploits Israel’s sensitivity to Russian activity in Syria, poor relations between Palestine and the U.S., and the deadlock in the peace process.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The agreement signed on 5 March between Russia and Turkey has halted the offensive by the Syrian army on Idlib and led to a new division of influence in the province. Both Turkey and Russia are using the truce to strengthen their military presence in this territory. The coronavirus pandemic may delay the resumption of fighting in Idlib, giving the EU time to prepare for a renewed escalation and attempts by Turkey to instrumentally use an exodus of Syrian refugees to exert pressure on the Union.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Syrian War, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Anna Maria Dyner
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Outside its borders, Russia has military bases in the post-Soviet space and in Syria. The main goal is to increase Russian military security and political influence in countries in which these bases are located. Despite economic difficulties related to the drop in oil and gas prices and the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia will maintain its network of bases, which it considers an important element of influence.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Military Strategy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Jakub Benedyczak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has become an opportunity for the Russian authorities to increase repressive measures and test Chinese solutions for digital control of society. Most of the solutions will probably be maintained after the pandemic eases, especially given the deepening economic crisis and potential of protests.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Surveillance, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia
  • Author: Paweł Markiewicz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Arctic has become another contested area between the U.S., Russia, and China. The region’s growing importance for global trade and American security means the U.S. goal is largely to maintain freedom of navigation in the Arctic. For this reason, the Trump administration strives to increase American capacities to operate in the Arctic. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will delay implementing these plans; nevertheless, they will be achieved in the long term and the U.S. will also expect support in the Arctic from NATO allies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, NATO, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Lauren Speranza
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tackling hybrid threats, particularly from state actors such as Russia and China, remains one of the greatest challenges for the transatlantic community. Hybrid threats have gained more traction among policymakers and publics across Europe and the United States, especially in a world with COVID-19. Over the last five years, Euro-Atlantic nations and institutions, such as NATO and the European Union (EU), have taken important steps to respond to hybrid issues. But, as hybrid threats become more prominent in the future, policymakers must move toward a more coherent, effective, and proactive strategy for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats. To develop such a transatlantic counter-hybrid strategy for Russia and China, this paper argues that two major things need to happen. First, transatlantic policymakers have to build a common strategic concept to guide collective thinking on hybrid threats. Second, transatlantic policymakers need to take a range of practical actions in service of that strategic concept. In a strategic concept for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats, Lauren Speranza offers five strategic priorities that could form the basis of this strategic concept and presents a series of constructive steps that NATO, the EU, and nations can take, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, to enhance their counter-hybrid capabilities against Russia and China.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, Science and Technology, European Union, Innovation, Resilience, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a strategic shock, and its almost immediate, damaging effects on the global economy constitute a secondary disruption to global order. Additional secondary strategic shocks (e.g., in the developing world) are looming. Together, these developments pose arguably the greatest threat to the global order since World War II. In the aftermath of that conflict, the United States and its allies established a rules-based international system that has guaranteed freedom, peace, and prosperity for decades. If the United States and its allies do not act effectively, the pandemic could upend this order. This issue brief considers the current state of the pandemic and how it has strained the global rules-based order over the past few months. First, it considers the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it spread around the world. Next, it examines how COVID-19 has exacerbated or created pressure points in the global order, highlights uncertainties ahead, and provides recommendations to the United States and its partners for shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Economy, Business , Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Asia, Eurasia, India, Taiwan, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Hans Binnendijk, Conor Rodihan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The conventional military threat from Russia towards Europe most acutely affects a number of frontline Nordic and Baltic states from the Barents Sea in the Arctic through the Baltic Sea region: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, these countries, in concert with other Euro-Atlantic allies and partners, have concentrated on strengthening their own defenses and on developing and enhancing eight sets of different defense cooperation arrangements. As the only two non-NATO and militarily nonaligned nations in the region, Finland and Sweden’s role in regional security and their level of cooperation with these and other partners poses challenges as well as opportunities for deterrence and defense in Europe’s northeast. These two countries have particularly emphasized cooperation with partners as they seek to build an interlocking web of security relationships to improve defense in the region. The core arrangements within this network include: The Finnish-Swedish bilateral defense relationship; Nordic Defense Cooperation; Nordic-Baltic Eight; The Northern Group; NATO Partnerships; The European Union; Ad hoc arrangements such as the Joint Expeditionary Force; Framework Nations Concept, and European Intervention Initiative; Finnish-Swedish-US trilateral and bilateral defense cooperation. These “geometries of deterrence” vary in scope, scale, and membership, but taken together, they enhance a range of important components of deterrence. In Geometries of Deterrence, Hans Binnendijk and Conor Rodihan assess the contributions of each of these arrangements against an ideal or “gold standard” for conventional military deterrence, before evaluating the arrangements collectively and offering recommendations to further strengthen deterrence for Finland, Sweden, and indeed for all of Northeastern Europe.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Northern Europe
  • Author: Daniel Fried, Brian O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: US President Donald J. Trump’s administration has found it challenging to maintain a consistent position with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repression at home and aggression abroad. It may again fall to Congress to attempt to counter Russia’s election interference, already ongoing in the form of disinformation; back Ukraine as its government seeks to deal with a Russian invasion; and contend with other forms of Kremlin aggression. In “Pushing Back against Russian Aggression – Legislative Options” authors Daniel Fried, the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluate two Russia sanctions bills, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) and the Defending American Security Against Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA), as tools to forestall new Russian interference in US elections. The authors walk readers through a set of sanctions escalatory measures—covering finance, energy, and the cyber sector – that both sanctions bills draw from. In sum, Fried and O’Toole conclude that DASKA’s sanctions are more measured and thus more implementable. By contrast, the authors deem DETER’s sanctions on financial institutions as simply too harsh with excessive spillover risk to US and Western financial markets to be implementable.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Business , Legislation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, Christian Trotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear-capable, strategic weapons systems. These systems include a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile and a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine drone. What does Russia have to gain from developing these novel and exotic nuclear weapons? And what should the United States and NATO do about it? This new Atlantic Council issue brief, Russia’s Exotic Nuclear Weapons and Implications for the United States and NATO, answers these questions. Informed by a workshop convened by the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Los Alamos National Laboratory, authors Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Christian Trotti evaluate the potential utility, motivations, and consequences of these new systems. Among other conclusions, the most significant may be that great-power competition has returned, and with it, the importance of nuclear weapons in international politics.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: With both Russia and China facing increasingly confrontational relations with the United States, the two countries have increased ties with each other and have pursued similar approaches in opposition to the US government concerning Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. Steve Biegun, US Deputy Secretary of State, recently characterized the developing relationship between Russia and China as one built on “mutual determination to challenge the United States.” To better understand how experts think about Russia’s relations with the other great powers, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently conducted a survey of 201 American experts on Russia. The survey finds that a majority describe the relationship between Russia and China today as one of mostly partnership. They also describe India as primarily a partner to Russia, both today and in the future. By contrast, they say that Russian relations with the United States and the European Union are mostly competitive. But they anticipate that in 20 years, rivalry between Russia and China will grow, perhaps creating space for reducing tensions with the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Power Politics, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US Experts Anticipate Future Decline for Russia Among the Great Powers OCTOBER 6, 2020 By: Arik Burakovsky, Assistant Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University; Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Brendan Helm, Research Assistant Although President Trump initially hoped for improved relations between the United States and Russia, during his tenure the US government has overtly declared Russia a top threat to US national security. Congress and the administration widened Obama-era sanctions against Russia after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Data from a recent survey of American experts on Russia, conducted by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs paints Russia as a declining power. The results show that while experts anticipate changes in the global balance of power in the next 20 years, with China overtaking the United States, they do not expect Russia to come out stronger over that time frame. Experts draw attention to Russia’s cracked economic and political foundation in the present and its likely decline over the next two decades due to economic mismanagement and faltering soft power. Now there are the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to add to this list.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Power Politics, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Henry Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: In the next decade, it is all too likely that the past success of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons among the world’s nations will be reversed. Three trends make more proliferation likely. First is the decay of nuclear taboos. Second, and arguably worse, is renewed vertical proliferation—the increase in size and sophistication of nuclear arsenals by states that already have them. Third, the technical information to fuel nuclear breakouts and ramp-ups is more available now than in the past. These trends toward increased proliferation are not yet facts. The author describes three steps the international community could take to save the NPT: making further withdrawals from the NPT unattractive; clamping down on the uneconomical stockpiling and civilian use of nuclear weapons materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); and giving real meaning to efforts to limit the threats that existing nuclear weapons pose.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Disarmament, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, North Korea, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Lars Hauch
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report examines Syria’s Constitutional Committee process and parallel military developments during the Syrian civil war to reveal that the two have so far been interconnected. It arrives at the conclusion that the Government of Syria and Russia created and subsequently manipulated various linkages between conference room and battlefield to increase their own advantage. This has included the use of the Constitutional Committee as a placeholder to avoid greater Western diplomatic, or even military, efforts to resolve the conflict; the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure to force opposition bodies out of Syria; and polarization of the Committee by engaging in continuous human rights abuses among the Syrian population during negotiations. The Constitutional Committee can still help build bridges, but this requires redressing the balance of forces on the battlefield first. A joint Turkish-European military humanitarian intervention in northwestern Syria can serve this purpose and revitalize efforts to negotiate a (late) solution to the war.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Constitution, Humanitarian Intervention, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Wolfgang Pusztai
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: After the massive defeat of the Libyan National Army (LNA) at the hands of Operation Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) - which supports the internationally recognized Government of Accord (GNA) - the new frontline is just west of Sirte, a city 370 km southeast of Tripoli and 350 km southwest of Benghazi, strategically located at the entrance to Libya’s Oil Crescent. While Turkish combat drones, air defense, artillery, electronic warfare and Special Forces form, together with about 10,000 Syrian mercenaries, the backbone of Operation Volcano, hundreds of mercenaries from the Russian private-military company Wagner fight for the LNA. Much more important, in May some 12 to 16 MiG-29SM/SMT and 4 to 6 Su-24M fighter jets arrived in Libya from Russia via Syria and operate now mainly from the Al Jufra air base (about 230 km south of Sirte). The Egyptian President Al-Sisi announced on June 20 that his country will intervene militarily, if the Sirte - Al Jufra line is crossed by pro-GNA forces. The political opponent of the GNA, the internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) has already officially requested Egyptian military support. However, Turkey and Russia are now the two key foreign players on the ground in Libya. Actually, the GNA is fully dependent on Turkish support.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Conflict, Syrian War, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Marta Dominguez-Jimenez, Niclas Poitiers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Most foreign direct investment into Russia originates in the European Union: European investors own between 55 percent and 75 percent of Russian FDI stock. This points to a Russian dependence on European investment, making the EU paramount for Russian medium-term growth. Even if we consider ‘phantom’ FDI that transits through Europe, the EU remains the primary investor in Russia. Most phantom FDI into Russia is believed to originate from Russia itself and thus is by construction not foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Sanctions, European Union, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout may rewrite the security as well as the political and economic map of the Middle East. The crisis will probably color Gulf attitudes towards the region’s major external players: the US, China, and Russia. Yet the Gulf States are likely to discover that their ability to shape the region’s map has significantly diminished.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Security, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: As tens of thousands more refugees are shunted by Turkey toward Europe and a new phase of the brutal Syrian war unfolds, Russia, Turkey, the EU, and the international community are being handed the bill for a flawed short-term approach to the nine-year conflict that lacked empathy for the millions of victims and was likely to magnify rather than resolve problems.
  • Topic: War, Refugees, Syrian War, International Community
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The relationship between Russia and China is based on shared short-term strategic interests, but their differences lie just beneath the surface. Occasionally they erupt into the public eye, as occurred when Russia recently accused China of technology theft. The dynamic of the Russian-Chinese alliance is similar to that of Moscow’s alliances with Turkey and Iran, which also function by focusing on immediate interests and putting off serious differences as long as possible.
  • Topic: Crime, Science and Technology, Arms Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though analysts tend to portray Russia’s foreign policy as truly global (that is, independent of Europe, the US, and China), the country is plainly tilting toward Asia. The Russian political elite does its best to hide this development, but the country is accumulating more interests and freedom to act in Asia than in Europe or anywhere else.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is at odds with just about everybody. He is on opposite sides with Russia in Syria as well as Libya and is trying the patience of his US and European allies. Turkey and Russia are testing the limits of what was always at best an opportunistic, fragile partnership aimed at capitalizing on a seemingly diminishing US interest in the Middle East, already evident under President Barack Obama and continuing under Donald Trump, who is haphazardly redefining what he sees as America’s national interests.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, Syria
  • Author: Cristina Gherasimov
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The EU is set to adopt a new Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy at a summit in June. This is strategically important for it and for its eastern neighborhood, where other powers like Russia and China pursue competing interests. As the policymaking process stands and given the tight deadline, however, the EU will only update and not upgrade the EaP framework due to EU states’ diverging interests. Brussels and Berlin will need to keep the EaP on the agenda after the summit to safeguard the EU’s transformative power in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: András Rácz, Cristina Gherasimov, Milan Nič
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: As protests continue to galvanize Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is consolidating his grip on power. Volatile domestic dynamics – and Russia’s reactions to them – will shape the discredited regime’s future. This paper outlines four possible scenarios for Belarus up to one year from now. They include options for Russia and the EU, whose strategic objectives differ, but whose short-term interests align: preventing bloodshed, avoiding open geopolitical conflict, and preparing for a post-Lukashenko transition.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, European Union, Geopolitics, Protests, Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Belarus
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: As the coronavirus pandemic fuels technological and geopolitical competition among the great powers, Europe’s relations with China and Russia are facing new challenges and risks. Still, the reconfiguration of power in Eurasia also brings unexpected opportunities for European actors in the area of connectivity. To seize them, the EU needs to reconcile its aspiration to be a globally accepted “normative-regulatory” power with both its limited financial means and its more assertive attitude to geopolitics.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Martin Sieg
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: In Moldova, the weakness of the Eastern Partnership has been over-reliance on incentives, rather than a lack thereof. Veto players who hid their true interests by claiming allegiance to the European cause hijacked the EU’s soft power. The EaP’s shortcoming was lack of means and readiness to make these key opponents of political reforms keep their commitments. Its core challenge is how to overcome the resistance of these veto players who have been obstructing transformational goals.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, European Union, Partnerships, Oligarchy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Moldova, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia have hit a new low after the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the Kremlin’s continued support for Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, despite massive electoral fraud in that country. A new Russia policy in Berlin will require a paradigm shift, using incentives and leverage to improve Germany’s negotiating position with Moscow. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project should be under intense scrutiny. If Moscow shows itself unwilling to cooperate, construction should be stopped.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: After Turkey’s unsuccessful ultimatum set for the Syrian regime and its Russian ally to commit to the Sochi Agreement, Ankara has targeted the Assad regime and its allies’ locations along the de-escalation zone by launching Operation Spring Shield. Russia has capitalized on Turkey’s anger by offering an agreement establishing new facts on ground during a Turkish-Russian summit on March 5th.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Geopolitics, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Moscow is escalating its undisclosed intervention in Libya to set up an advanced line of defence in the Mediterranean but the chances of its success are uncertain due to the nature of the NATO’s potential countermeasures and the political legitimacy that Russia’s Libyan partners will gain.
  • Topic: NATO, Military Strategy, Military Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Zaki Shaikh
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: By carrying on the activities of the Russian military contingents in Syria and with its backing of Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar, Moscow seeks to reassert its role in the Mediterranean and leverage a strategy for generating low-risk yet high yield wins.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Libya, Syria, Mediterranean
  • Author: David Carment
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: After three years of limited discussion, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine renewed their peace talks to resolve the separatist conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas). Efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Donbas began five years ago with the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. This framework, developed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), attempted to facilitate a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine through the mediation of an impartial actor, and it culminated in the Minsk I (September 2014) and then Minsk II (February 2015) agreements. The Minsk II agreements comprised a 13-point peace plan, chief among which is an arrangement specifying support for the restoration of the Ukrainian-Russian border. While the implementation of the military portions of the Minsk II agreements were finalized within three months of signing, the political and security portions remained unresolved. Though President Vladimir Putin has declared his intent to protect the Russian-speaking peoples of the region, he has also stated he has no interest in reclaiming Eastern Ukraine. Not surprisingly, since Russia’s ultimate goal is undeclared, the conflict has proved very difficult to resolve.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Territorial Disputes, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Canada, France, Germany, United States of America
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Turkeyscope Dr. Soner Cagaptay analyzes the evolution of Turkey's foreign policy with respect to both Syria and Libya.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Rawi Abdelal, Aurélie Bros
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Sanctions have become the dominant tool of statecraft of the United States and other Western states, especially the European Union, since the end of the Cold War. But the systematic use of this instrument may produce unintended and somewhat paradoxical geopolitical consequences. The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the field of energy are particularly illustrative of this phenomenon.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Sanctions, Geopolitics, Secondary Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elena V. Baraban
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: In this paper I examine two popular Russian television series: the historical drama The Demon of the Revolution, or Parvus’s Memorandum (Demon revoliutsii, ili Memorandum Parvusa, dir. Vladimir Khotinenko, 2017) and the biopic Trotsky (Trotskii, dirs. Alexander Kott and Konstantin Statskii, 2017). These mini-series were released on Russia’s main television channels on the occasion of the centenary of the October Revolution. Given their salience amidst otherwise subdued commemoration of the Revolution’s centenary in Russia, it is important to analyze these films in the current ideological and political context. What do they tell us about present-day Russia? What is their cultural significance? In what way does the negative depiction of the Revolution and its leaders in The Demon and Trotsky relate to the Russian authorities’ ideology concerning national unity and the nation’s steady development? This discussion is especially pertinent for understanding how the creation and circulation of such narratives shape the public opinion in today’s Russia. This, in turn, helps to understand current trends in the relation between power and culture.
  • Topic: History, Ideology, Revolution, Lenin, Trotsky
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Adrian Popa, Cristian Barna
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: Russia’s recent buildup of A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) forces in Crimea and Kaliningrad, coupled with its increasingly confronting rhetoric in the Black and Baltic Seas, pose a serious challenge for the NATO’s Eastern flank countries. While the mare sui generis status of the Black Sea might be altered under the expected inauguration of Canal Istanbul in 2023 as it would probably require the revision of the Montreux Convention, the mare liberum status of the Baltic Sea might also be questioned as Russia contests NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in this region. Facing this challenging geostrategic context, Pilsudski’s ideas of Intermarium seem to have revived within the Central and Eastern European countries under modern interfaces such as the Bucharest Nine and the Three Seas Initiative. This paper proposes a comparative analysis between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea in terms of their newly-emerged geostrategic context, discusses the feasibility of the recent endeavours to promote cooperation within the Central and Eastern European countries and not ultimately, highlights the utility of a regional military alliance in support of NATO.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Crimea, Baltic Sea, Baltic States
  • Author: Cholpon Abdyraeva
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP)
  • Abstract: This paper aims to introduce the state of art on hybrid warfare and seeks to address the conceptual confusion regarding an ever-expanding concept of hybrid warfare. By doing so, this paper simultaneously attempts to assess the growing significance of cyber and information domains within the hybrid warfare, which can be clearly illustrated by the example of the Russian hybrid warfare strategy. The Russian approach to hybrid warfare has considerably broadened the scope of hybrid warfare and changed the focus of debates from military to non-military components of hybrid warfare. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is: 1) to produce a deeper insight into hybrid warfare, including related trends, and 2) to assess the role and impact of cyber and information warfare with a particular focus on Russia. This paper can serve as an introduction that guides policy makers with expert opinions, and as such, intends to motivate further investigation in this field.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Conflict, Hybrid Warfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: The first reflection about the geopolitical environment that Bulgaria faced after the tectonic systemic shifts in the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century thirty years later is that the efforts of the country to influence the transformation of the Balkans into a regional security community were successful. The second reflection is that Bulgaria was not able to influence effectively a similar development in the Black Sea area. Both the Balkans and the Caspian Sea-Caucasus- Black Sea area were conflictual knots of relations inherited from the Cold War divide. While the traditional European great powers that polarized the Balkan system of international relations pushing the small countries one against the other and the United States had the strategic interest of pacifying the South Eastern region of Europe, the dominating great power in the Black Sea area – Russia, aimed at preserving the opportunities of coming back to the territories that the Soviet Union lost after its collapse by preserving various degrees of conflictness in the neighbouring countries. Depending on the general condition of the Russian economy and state as well as its domestic political status different opportunities were either designed or just used to preserve the profile of Russia of the empire that sooner or later will be back. What are, in this regard, the perceptions in Bulgaria of the annexation of Crimea?
  • Topic: Security, International Security, Geopolitics, Conflict, Empire
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Caspian Sea
  • Author: Douglas Barrie, Lucie béraud-Sudreau, Henry Boyd, Nick Childs, Bastain Giegerich, James Hackett, Meia Nouwens
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In 2019, European governments’ combined defence spending, when measured in constant 2015 US dollar terms, surpassed the level reached in 2009, before the financial and economic crisis led to a series of significant defence-spending cuts. However, a different strategic paradigm – one that Europe is struggling to adjust to and which is once more a concern for European governments – has re-appeared in this past decade: great-power competition. Russia attempted to change international borders in Europe through the use of force in 2014 by annexing Crimea and continues to support an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s challenge to Euro-Atlantic security exists in multiple dimensions: as both a conventional military and also a hybrid-warfare issue, with Russia working to dislocate existing societal alignments and disrupt political processes in Western states. The poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer (and of his daughter) in the United Kingdom, attributed by the British government to Russia, underlines further how much the character of conflict has changed. How to manage the challenge Russia poses without simply reverting to Cold War logic remains a worrying problem for governments in NATO and the European Union member states. Meanwhile, European security establishments are beginning to recognise the growing political, economic and military influence of a rising China. Although less of an immediate challenge, China’s growth in these areas has possible profound consequences in the long run. Indeed, in December 2019, NATO declared: ‘We recognise that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.’2 For the United States, China has already become the pacing military threat. The US Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, released in June 2019, opens with the assertion that ‘the Indo-Pacific is the Department of Defense’s priority theater’. In other words, the European theatre is not. European analysts and officials have begun to wonder whether the US might begin to see Europe through an Asian lens, seeking to generate European commitments to the Indo-Pacific region, or at the very least getting Europeans to take on greater responsibility for their own security and thereby freeing up US resources. Although there will be some elements of the US military presence in Europe that are indispensable to US military action in other regions of the world, that might not be enough to sustain Washington’s firm commitment to European security in the future, regardless of who occupies the White House. Significantly, not even the US has the capability to fight two major wars simultaneously any more, meaning binary choices regarding focus are inevitable. As some observers have argued, Europeans need to urgently assess what Washington’s choices in this regard – and their implications for Europe – might look like. Considering both how to deter Russia and what a European contribution to containing China might entail represents a major challenge for Western European nations, which have relegated defence to a secondary position, as almost a discretionary activity. European states partially demobilised in the 1990s and early 2000s, intellectually and in terms of their force structures, in response to the end of the Cold War. For example, according to IISS data, in 1990 West Germany alone was thought to be able to field 215 combat battalions and the UK 94. Today it is a fraction of that. However, security challenges relating to regional instability, crisis management and transnational terrorism – which all dominated the previous two decades – have not disappeared. On the contrary, all these still demand attention and the investment of European resources. While there is a growing recognition among Europe’s analytical community, and some governments, that things cannot simply continue as before in terms of regional security and defence, coherence and resolve among core actors in the Euro-Atlantic sphere have weakened. The US administration has intensified its call for better transatlantic burden sharing, at the same time displaying a cavalier attitude to the collective-defence commitment enshrined in NATO. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed severe doubts about the viability of NATO’s collective-defence mission. In addition, the British decision to leave the European Union in 2020 implies that the EU has lost one of its most militarily experienced and one of its most capable member states. There is a tendency among many observers and some politicians to argue that European NATO and EU member states need to clarify the political dimension of their defence ambition, via-à-vis greater strategic autonomy, before resolving the problem of how to meet this ambition militarily, at what cost and in what time frame. Indeed, at times, the debate about European strategic autonomy seems to focus more on the degree of independence from the US that its various proponents would like to achieve and less on the military requirement that autonomy is meant to respond to. It is now widely accepted across Europe that Europeans need ‘to do more’ for their own security and defence. Most of the intellectual energy allocated to this aspiration is spent on achieving better coordination – and even a level of integration – among European armed forces. This is useful, but only if it is directed at building capability to provide for the defence of Europe. The existing military capabilities of the European NATO member states fall short when compared to the force requirements generated by the political–military level of ambition as defined by NATO, or for that matter the EU.5 However, this should not be an excuse to lower the level of ambition, nor should the assumption that Europeans are unable to defend themselves be declared an inevitability. Defence output is the result of political, financial and military choices by governments. To think systematically about the challenge of providing capabilities that can meet Europe’s emerging military requirements, The International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Hanns Seidel Foundation convened a group of thinkers and practitioners from Germany and the UK. The group took seriously the US assertion that Europe needs to be able to provide for its own defence. If Europeans can achieve this, they will be valuable partners to the US in upholding and strengthening the liberal international order on which Euro-Atlantic prosperity and security depend. Meeting twice in 2019, the group discussed threat assessments, debated European capability gaps and scoped potential approaches to addressing them. The following pages draw on the group’s deliberations but do not represent a consensus position.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, Asia, North America
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the Covid-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online and will occasionally publish investigative data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool—a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This report includes three case studies that feature China, Taiwan, Russia and Africa
  • Topic: Internet, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Filippo Cutrera
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: BRICS Policy Center
  • Abstract: The present paper has three main objectives: first, to show that, over the first decade of existence of the group, between 2009 and 2018, the BRICS have manifested an increasing interest in expanding their cooperation beyond the traditional areas of economy and development to the field of global security; second, to present the content of their common security agenda and how it has developed throughout this period; third, to identify the main factors influencing the agenda-setting process of the group as well as the main challenges to further advancement. The research will conclude that the high levels of informality in the group’s cooperation and heterogeneity in the interests of its members have enabled BRICS to formulate common positions and to establish cooperation mechanisms on a broad range of issues of international security.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, National Security, Regional Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Susanna Rabow-Edling
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: The Russian Empire has often been associated with autocracy, illiberalism and backwardness. However, Russian liberal intellectuals worked to modernise and liberalise their country, while preserving its international influence and position as a world power. In Liberalism in Pre-revolutionary Russia: State, Nation, Empire (Routledge, 2018), Susanna Rabow-Edling looks at the history of liberal nationalism in the Russian Empire, covering the period between the Decembrist revolt in 1825 and the October Revolution in 1917. She examines liberal tendencies in the Empire and how they are intertwined with notions of nation and empire. Susanna Rabow-Edling is Associate Professor in Political Science and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden. In our conversation, we discussed the development of different Russian liberal theories, the role of nationalism in a multi-ethnic empire, and the parallels between Russian and Western liberal ideologies.
  • Topic: State Formation, Empire, Revolution, Nation-State, Liberalism, Russian Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Serhii Plokhy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: It is only in the past decade that Ukrainian history has begun to be researched in the context of international or global history. The American historian Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, is a prominent exponent of this approach. His books The Gates of Europe: A History of UkraineandChernobyl: History of a Tragedy analyze the major problems of the Ukrainian past from a transnational perspective. His latest book, Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: An Untold Story of World War II, deals with the establishment of United States Air Force bases in the Poltava region of Soviet Ukraine in 1944—the only place where Soviet and American troops lived and fought side by side during the war, putting the anti-Nazi alliance to the test. Plokhy's research interests include the early modern history of Ukraine, twentieth-century international history, and intellectual history. I spoke with Serhii Plokhy about the integration of Ukrainian history into global history, the colonial status of Ukraine, and environmental history.
  • Topic: History, Military Affairs, World War II, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Ukraine, Soviet Union
  • Author: Oscar Sanchez-Sibony
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: Capitalism versus Communism. To many, the latter half of the twentieth history was deeply shaped by the confrontation between these two ideological and socioeconomic systems. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, capitalism's triumph was credited to its valorization of money and protection of markets, among other factors; and, as the story continues, Communists failed, in part, because they suppressed markets and globalization. Yet, how much of this historical picture holds true? To Oscar Sanchez-Sibony, a good deal of Cold War histories are founded on generally held misconceptions about the political economy of the Soviet Union. Not only do they ignore the intense engagements between the Soviets and the world, they often miss the mark by neglecting the larger financial and economic architecture that facilitated such exchanges and economic growth in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). There is a larger story to be told about the rise of global capitalism and the Soviet Union. These are the themes of Red Globalization: The Political Economy of the Soviet Cold War from Stalin to Khrushchev (2014). Making use of archival documents from Russian archives, Sanchez-Sibony provides a rich account of how a young Bolshevik state navigated through the world's economic crises, while seeking favorable trading partners in the West for investments. This interview also ventures into topics and figures such as Depression Stalinism, Anastas Mikoyan, and Soviet-Global South relations. This book provoked much debate, and will be a must-read for years to come for anyone interested in histories of the Soviet Union, global capitalism, and the global Cold War. Oscar Sanchez-Sibony is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches and researches subjects in Soviet history, Stalinism, and capitalism. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago under the guidance of Sheila Fitzpatrick. Toynbee Foundation had the pleasure to talk with him about his career and the development of his research.
  • Topic: Cold War, Communism, Globalization, History, Capitalism, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Thiago Gehre
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: The BRICS is a group of countries formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that began to operate formally in 2009 as a legitimate, efficient and durable agent of governance in the world order (ACHARYA 2016: 1-27). Scholars all over the world –many of them cited here in this article –have painted the image of the BRICS as an ‘economic colossus’, assuming an underdeveloped intra-bloc cooperation restricted to economic issues. Nonetheless, from an economic starting point, the BRICS has evolved in the last years expanding its cooperation capabilities to a huge array of issues that encapsulates innovation and sensitivity.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Geopolitics, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Luiza Peruffo
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: The grouping of the BRICS countries is controversial in several ways. First, because its origins do not have a political foundation: Brazil, Russia, India and China were first put together as an acronym created in the financial market (O’NEILL, 2001) and this was eventually transposed onto the political world. The group’s advocates have argued that the geopolitical initiative that followed made sense because it brought together countries of continental proportions, large economies, with huge domestic markets –an argument that falls apart with the inclusion of South Africa in 2010. In addition, there is the issue of the disproportionate economic power between China and the other members of the bloc. Moreover, many argue that there are few common interests between the economies, which have such diverse productive structures, and therefore it would be unlikely that they could form a cohesive group (see STUENKEL, 2013, pp. 620-621 for a review of criticisms of the group).
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Global Financial Crisis, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Augusto Leal Rinaldi, Laerte Apolinário Júnior
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: The first decade of the 21st century gave way to a series of international political-economic dynamics with the potential to reorganize global power (IKENBERRY, 2018; KITCHEN; COX, 2019; MAHBUBANI, 2009; MEARSHEIMER, 2018, 2019). Among the changes, one common reference is the rise of the BRICS –Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa –and, consequently, their performance for demanding reforms of the global governance system (COOPER, 2016; HURRELL, 2018; ROBERTS; ARMIJO; KATADA, 2018; STUENKEL, 2017). The emerging economies have invested in consolidating their new status by acting in different branches of global governance, demanding changes and policies to see a reasonable parity between their economic weight and ability to participate as real decision-makers. In this context, international regimes are a crucial dimension to consider.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, Geopolitics, International Development, Economic Development , Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Marcelo Milan, Leandro Teixeira Santos
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: This article examines the geoeconomic challenges brought to China by the effects of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, and consequently by the nature and composition of international economic alliances, mainlycooperation among underdeveloped nations(Glosny, 2010), of rebalancing3of its drivers of growth4. It evaluates likely impacts on other BRICS countries, given the economic linkages developed during the past couple of decades, as an example of what may happen to broader geoeconomic arrangements as the process of rebalancing deepens
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Foreign Direct Investment, Geopolitics, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Marcelo Corrêa, Luiz Michelo, Carlos Schonerwald
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: After two decades of intense debate about the determinants of economic development, with authors examining the variables that characterize geography, institutions and international trade, BRICS countries were left behind. Thus, in order to fill this gap, this paper uses econometrics of panel data to analyze the economic performance of these developing nations. Mainstream economists have run into serious problems to deal with these particular determinants within the traditional endogenous growth model, and they have not come up with an agreement, so they keep trying to figure out who is the “winner of this competition”. Empirical evidence shows that there is not a unique explanatorydeterminant, and recognizing which of them can provide the best understandingdepends on the particularities of each case (ROS, 2013).Examining BRICS as a group of countries demonstrates that these specific developing nations share some remarkable features. They are rapidly-growing nations with a vast amount of land and growing participation in international trade. So, empirical tests are feasible and desirable in order to understand their recent development. However, they are also different in many aspects, mostly in terms of institutional characteristics. Thus, our goal is to find out if the econometrics of panel data can shed some light on this ongoing debate.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Trade, Trade Policy, Economic Cooperation, Geography
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Cheng Jing
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Institution: Conjuntura Austral: Journal of the Global South
  • Abstract: Attracting international students is an important way to promote the internationalization of one country’s higher education, and to enhance youth and education exchanges between countries. As the biggest developing country in world, China has attachedimportance to the international students education in China since 2010 so as to improve the quality of China’s higher education and promote its internationalization. What’s striking is that in September of 2010, for the first time, the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of Chinafrom the perspective of national strategymapped out a plan targeting the international students educationin China, and releasedStudy in China Program, which was designed to “promote the communication and cooperation between China and other countries in education, promptthe sustainable and healthy development of the international students education in China and improve the internationalization of Chineseeducation”. This program highlightedthat China would“accelerate the quota of scholarship step by step in accordance with the need of national strategy and development”, with the targets of attracting 500,000 international students by 2020 and “making China the top destination country in Asia for international students”(China’s Ministry of Education, 2010:647).
  • Topic: Education, International Political Economy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Nathaniel Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia’s return to the global stage as a major power relies on an array of diplomatic, information, security, and economic tools that help the Kremlin punch above its weight. One of the newest instruments in that toolbox is the Wagner Group—a shadowy band of mercenaries loyal to the Kremlin and controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a member of President Vladimir Putin’s coterie. Russian and Western media have been following the group’s expanding footprint from Ukraine and Syria to Sudan, the Central African Republic, and now possibly Libya and Venezuela. But despite the significant attention, Western understanding of Wagner’s role and capacity is still incomplete at best. This is partly due to Moscow’s relentless disinformation campaigns and efforts to deny responsibility for Wagner’s operations. Adding to the confusion is a false perception that Wagner is a private military company (PMC) no different than Western outfits like Academi (formerly Blackwater) and DynCorp International. A detailed analysis of the group—including its origins, ties to the Putin regime, political and economic drivers, and capabilities—is essential for Western policymakers to better gauge the threat Wagner poses and how to respond. The group may not offer the Kremlin entirely new ways to wage war or build influence, but its existence is emblematic of how a more assertive Russia often—and at times implausibly—tries to evade responsibility for actions beyond its borders. Wagner is also a window into the broader dynamics of the Putin regime, including how it harnesses the ambitions and self-interests of elites like Prigozhin to create deniable and flexible tools. The West should not overreact to the challenge from Wagner, but a multilateral, low-cost campaign to shed light on the group and constrain its options will reduce the risk.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Vladimir Putin, Wagner Group
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After a decades-long absence, Russia is once again appearing on the African continent. The Kremlin’s return to Africa, which has generated considerable media, governmental, and civil society attention, draws on a variety of tools and capabilities. Worrying patterns of stepped-up Russian activity are stirring concerns that a new wave of great-power competition in Africa is now upon us. U.S. policymakers frequently stress the need to counter Russian malign influence on the continent. On a visit to Angola in early 2019, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that “Russia often utilizes coercive, corrupt, and covert means to attempt to influence sovereign states, including their security and economic partnerships.”1 Advocates for a more forceful Western policy response point to high-visibility Russian military and security cooperation in the Central African Republic and the wide-ranging travels of Russian political consultants and disinformation specialists as confirmation that Russia, like China, represents a major challenge in Africa. Yet is that really the case? Are Russian inroads and capabilities meaningful or somewhat negligible? Hard information is difficult to come by, but any honest accounting of Russian successes will invariably point to a mere handful of client states with limited strategic significance that are isolated from the West and garner little attention from the international community. It remains unclear whether Russia’s investments in Africa over the past decade are paying off in terms of creating a real power base in Africa, let alone putting it on a footing that will expand its influence in the years to come. Nevertheless, Russia increasingly looks to Africa as a region where it can project power and influence. President Vladimir Putin will welcome leaders from across the continent to Sochi in late October for the first Africa-Russia summit, a clear indication of the symbolic importance that Africa holds for the Kremlin right now.2 It is clear that Russian inroads there would be far more limited but for the power vacuums created by a lack of Western policy focus on Africa in recent years. That state of affairs gives Russia (and other outside powers) an opportunity to curry favor with the continent’s elites and populations. More than anything else, it is opportunism that propels Russia’s relatively low-cost and low-risk strategies to try to enhance its clout and unnerve the West in Africa, just as in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Power Politics, Democracy, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2015 Russian military intervention in Syria was a pivotal moment for Moscow’s Middle East policy. Largely absent from the Middle East for the better part of the previous two decades, Russia intervened to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime and reasserted itself as a major player in the region’s power politics. Moscow’s bold use of military power positioned it as an important actor in the Middle East. The intervention took place against the backdrop of a United States pulling back from the Middle East and growing uncertainty about its future role there. The geopolitical realignment and instability caused by the civil wars in Libya and Syria and the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia have opened opportunities for Russia to rebuild some of the old relationships and to build new ones. The most dramatic turnaround in relations in recent years has occurred between Russia and Israel. The new quality of the relationship owes a great deal to the personal diplomacy between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Russia’s emergence as a major presence in Syria has meant that the Israelis now have no choice but to maintain good relations with their new “neighbor.” Some Israeli officials hope that Moscow will help them deal with the biggest threat they face from Syria—Iran and its client Hezbollah. So far, Russia has delivered some, but far from all that Israel wants from it, and there are precious few signs that Russia intends to break with Iran, its partner and key ally in Syria. Russian-Iranian relations have undergone an unusual transformation as a result of the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war. Their joint victory is likely to lead to a divergence of their interests. Russia is interested in returning Syria to the status quo ante and reaping the benefits of peace and reconstruction. Iran is interested in exploiting Syria as a platform in its campaign against Israel. Russia lacks the military muscle and the diplomatic leverage to influence Iran. That poses a big obstacle to Moscow’s ambitions in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Maxim Samorukov
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The biggest point of contention in the Balkans is back on Europe’s front burner. For decades, Serbia was mired in a conflict with Kosovo, its breakaway province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008 after violent ethnic clashes and international intervention in the late 1990s. Last year, a protracted diplomatic effort to end the conflict was unexpectedly boosted when then U.S. national security adviser John Bolton announced that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration was ready to consider changes to the Serbia-Kosovo border as part of a settlement. The Serbian government welcomed the idea, giving rise to hopes that a negotiated solution to the Balkan conflict is now potentially within reach. Still, any final settlement is very much an uphill battle. Many Kosovar leaders are not enthusiastic about the proposed border correction, which would entail swapping areas in northern Kosovo populated mainly by ethnic Serbs for Serbian municipalities dominated by ethnic Albanians. Germany and other members of the European Union (EU) have disapproved strongly, arguing that redrawing boundaries may open a Pandora’s box, with unpredictable ripple effects.2 On top of all that, it is increasingly clear that Russia, which has long held great sway over the region, may not actually want the conflict resolved at all. So long as Serbia does not formally recognize Kosovo’s independence, it must rely on Russia’s veto power in the United Nations (UN) Security Council to prevent full international recognition of what it regards as a breakaway province. That dependency gives Russia a nontrivial degree of influence, both in the region and within Serbia itself. The Kremlin fears that ending the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo will diminish Russia’s stature in Serbia and severely undermine its clout in the Balkans. Moscow is well-positioned to derail the resolution process. Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoys unchecked popularity across most of Serbian society, and the Russian political and national security establishment maintains close ties with its counterparts among Serbia’s political and security elites, who tend to strongly oppose any compromise with Kosovo. From all appearances, Moscow also hopes to use its influence over the Kosovo issue as leverage in its acrimonious relationship with the West.
  • Topic: United Nations, Conflict, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Russia, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Weiss, Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Amid the widespread attention the Kremlin’s recent inroads in Africa have attracted, there has been surprisingly little discussion of South Africa, a country which, for nearly a decade, unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency of Jacob Zuma (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa. Moscow’s strategy was multifaceted, capitalizing on well-established close ties with Zuma, a former African National Congress senior intelligence official with extensive Soviet bloc connections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials pursued a series of initiatives, such as the inclusion of South Africa in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) grouping and the launch of ambitious forms of cooperation between state-backed energy interests primarily in the nuclear sector. Yet relations were undermined by the Kremlin’s propensity to overreach, to lean too heavily on the legacy of Cold War–era relationships forged with leaders of national liberation movements, and to take advantage of cultures of corruption. The controversy arising from a massive $76 billion nuclear power plant construction deal triggered strong pushback and legal challenges from South Africa’s institutional checks and balances, civil society groups, and independent media. Key parts of the Russian national security establishment view civil nuclear power exports as an important tool for projecting influence overseas while creating revenue streams for sustaining intellectual and technical capabilities and vital programs inside Russia itself. Yet such cooperation is often a two-edged sword. On the one hand, costly projects such as the one pushed by Zuma typically make little economic sense for the purchasing country, spurring uncomfortable questions about who stands to benefit. On the other hand, heavily subsidized projects pursued mainly for geopolitical reasons risk saddling Russia’s nuclear power monopoly Rosatom with burdens it can ill afford. Ongoing investigations of high-level corruption during the period of so-called state capture under Zuma shed remarkable light on how the Kremlin operates in Africa and other parts of the world. In retrospect, the sustainability of Moscow’s embrace of South Africa was highly questionable due to its paltry tool kit. Russian involvement in the South African economy is miniscule compared to that of other trading partners such as the EU, China, the United States, India, and the UK, accounting for a mere 0.4 percent of South Africa’s foreign trade. While the Soviet Union was an important patron during the anti-apartheid struggle, modern-day Russia offers little in the way of practical assistance for helping South Africa deal with its deep-set economic and societal challenges.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Nuclear Waste
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, South Africa
  • Author: Elizabeth N. Saunders
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When and how do domestic politics influence a state's nuclear choices? Recent scholarship on nuclear security develops many domestic-political explanations for different nuclear decisions. These explanations are partly the result of two welcome trends: first, scholars have expanded the nuclear timeline, examining state behavior before and after nuclear proliferation; and second, scholars have moved beyond blunt distinctions between democracies and autocracies to more fine-grained understandings of domestic constraints. But without linkages between them, new domestic-political findings could be dismissed as a laundry list of factors that do not explain significant variation in nuclear decisions. This review essay assesses recent research on domestic politics and nuclear security, and develops a framework that illuminates when and how domestic-political mechanisms are likely to affect nuclear choices. In contrast to most previous domestic arguments, many of the newer domestic-political mechanisms posited in the literature are in some way top-down; that is, they show leaders deliberately maintaining or loosening control over nuclear choices. Two dimensions govern the extent and nature of domestic-political influence on nuclear choices: the degree of threat uncertainty and the costs and benefits to leaders of expanding the circle of domestic actors involved in a nuclear decision. The framework developed in this review essay helps make sense of several cases explored in the recent nuclear security literature. It also has implications for understanding when and how domestic-political arguments might diverge from the predictions of security-based analyses.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Domestic politics, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iran, North Korea
  • Author: M.E. Sarotte
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Newly available sources show how the 1993–95 debate over the best means of expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unfolded inside the Clinton administration. This evidence comes from documents recently declassified by the Clinton Presidential Library, the Defense Department, and the State Department because of appeals by the author. As President Bill Clinton repeatedly remarked, the two key questions about enlargement were when and how. The sources make apparent that, during a critical decisionmaking period twenty-five years ago, supporters of a relatively swift conferral of full membership to a narrow range of countries outmaneuvered proponents of a slower, phased conferral of limited membership to a wide range of states. Pleas from Central and Eastern European leaders, missteps by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and victory by the pro-expansion Republican Party in the 1994 U.S. congressional election all helped advocates of full-membership enlargement to win. The documents also reveal the surprising impact of Ukrainian politics on this debate and the complex roles played by both Strobe Talbott, a U.S. ambassador and later deputy secretary of state, and Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian foreign minister. Finally, the sources suggest ways in which the debate's outcome remains significant for transatlantic and U.S.-Russian relations today.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, International Security, Clinton Administration
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Eliza Gheorghe
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The evolution of the nuclear market explains why there are only nine members of the nuclear club, not twenty-five or more, as some analysts predicted. In the absence of a supplier cartel that can regulate nuclear transfers, the more suppliers there are, the more intense their competition will be, as they vie for market share. This commercial rivalry makes it easier for nuclear technology to spread, because buyers can play suppliers off against each other. The ensuing transfers help countries either acquire nuclear weapons or become hedgers. The great powers (China, Russia, and the United States) seek to thwart proliferation by limiting transfers and putting safeguards on potentially dangerous nuclear technologies. Their success depends on two structural factors: the global distribution of power and the intensity of the security rivalry among them. Thwarters are most likely to stem proliferation when the system is unipolar and least likely when it is multipolar. In bipolarity, their prospects fall somewhere in between. In addition, the more intense the rivalry among the great powers in bipolarity and multipolarity, the less effective they will be at curbing proliferation. Given the potential for intense security rivalry among today's great powers, the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity does not portend well for checking proliferation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China
  • Author: Deborah Jordan Brooks, Stephen G. Brooks, Brian D. Greenhill, Mark L. Haas
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The world is experiencing a period of unprecedented demographic change. For the first time in human history, marked disparities in age structures exist across the globe. Around 40 percent of the world's population lives in countries with significant numbers of elderly citizens. In contrast, the majority of the world's people live in developing countries with very large numbers of young people as a proportion of the total population. Yet, demographically, most of the world's states with young populations are aging, and many are doing so quickly. This first-of-its kind systematic theoretical and empirical examination of how these demographic transitions influence the likelihood of interstate conflict shows that countries with a large number of young people as a proportion of the total population are the most prone to international conflict, whereas states with the oldest populations are the most peaceful. Although societal aging is likely to serve as a force for enhanced stability in most, and perhaps all, regions of the world over the long term, the road to a “demographic peace” is likely to be bumpy in many parts of the world in the short to medium term.
  • Topic: Demographics, War, International Security, Democracy, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Germany, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: “Georgians have always had a grievance complex, because Turks or Persians have always suppressed them. The lack of independence, the inability to have one’s own state — all this instilled in Georgians a sense of deprivation. Now they are hot-tempered, light up for any reason. Now flashed.” This is what Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party leader tweeted after riot police in Tbilisi fired rubber bullets against thousands of nonviolent protesters outside of the Georgian Parliament on June 20, 2019. On that day, Georgian officials welcomed into the Georgian Parliament a Russian delegation, headed by member of the State Duma Sergey Gavrilov, within the framework of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. Outside of the Parliament, civilians staged a snap protest against the ongoing Russian occupation of 20 percent of Georgian territory. Days before his scandalous appearance in the chair of the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Mr. Gavrilov gave an interview to the Georgian television network Rustavi 2 and stated, “We have recognized the independence of Ossetia and Abkhazia [two breakaway Georgian regions where Russian military forces are stationed] and we have to build our relations on new reality.” Soon after, Georgians saw him chairing an international assembly in the Georgian Parliament in Russian, an occurrence which was deeply humiliating for members of the Georgian public, many of whom lost friends and family members in the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Kaha Baindurashvili
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russian sanctions might not be that impressive, but they are extremely dangerous for Georgian unity. Russia has been destabilizing that unity since Georgia’s independence in 1991, first through its proxies— Abkhaz and Ossetian separatists and militias— and then later more openly from 2004 onwards. The Kremlin’s political aims behind the sanctions are obvious. Russian officials do not have high expectations for their numerical impact, but the propaganda accompanying them could have a more powerful impact. The Ivanishvili victory in 2012 and promised political and media tolerance has opened doors to Russian propaganda too; since then, banned Russian media outlets have started freely broadcasting in Georgia, while the anti-Kremlin, Georgian-funded, Russian-language television network PIK was shut down.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Georgia
  • Author: Mohanad Hage Ali
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict has magnified threats to minorities with long-term implications both within and beyond Syria’s borders. The deployment of excessive firepower by the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime, and the concurrent rise of Islamic extremism have had both direct and indirect impacts on minorities. Local, regional, and international actors have weaponized minority groups to bolster their influence, further intensifying schisms in the Syrian social fabric and in the international community as a whole. The flow of one million Syrian refugees to Europe between 2015 and 2016 strengthened an already powerful wave of anti-immigration, nationalist populism throughout the continent and across the Atlantic. As an openly Islamophobic and, more implicitly, anti-Semitic movement, the wave has contributed to widening the scope of the Syrian conflict’s schismatic effects beyond the country’s borders.
  • Topic: Minorities, Violent Extremism, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A tumultuous month in north-eastern Syria has left a tense standoff among the regime, Turkey and the YPG, mediated by Russia and, to some degree, still the U.S. All parties should respect the ceasefire as the regime and YPG negotiate more stable long-term arrangements. What’s new? The U.S. withdrawal announcement and subsequent Turkish incursion in north-eastern Syria shattered an awkward but fairly stable stalemate that had persisted for several years. A Russian-brokered ceasefire and partial reversal of the U.S. withdrawal have restored the impasse, but in far more fragile form. Why does it matter? The ceasefire leaves the biggest question unanswered: who will govern and police the north east? As the Syrian regime, Turkey and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) all stake potentially irreconcilable claims, and the U.S. stays put at the area’s oil fields, the emerging dispensation is highly volatile. What should be done? All sides should respect the ceasefire. The U.S. should protect its Kurdish and Arab partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces and prioritise stability in the north east in discussions with Russia and Turkey. The YPG should reassess its exclusive reliance on U.S. protection and pursue mutually beneficial arrangements with Damascus.
  • Topic: Syrian War, Negotiation, Crisis Management, YPG
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America