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  • Author: Oliver Stuenkel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Emerging powers frequently stress the importance of sovereignty and the inviolability of international law. As a consequence, many Western observers expected that emerging powers such as Brazil would be quick to condemn Russia's annexation of Crimea. Yet Brazil remained neutral and abstained from the UN General Assembly resolution that criticised Russia. Together with the other BRICS countries, it opposed suggestions to exclude Russia from the G-20, thus markedly reducing the effectiveness of Western attempts to isolate President Putin. Brazil's unwillingness to criticise Russia may have less to do with its opinion on Russia's annexation of Crimea per se and more to do with Brasília's scepticism of Western attempts to turn Russia into an international pariah. From Brasilia's perspective, pushing countries against the wall is rarely the most constructive approach. In addition, many in Brazil are wary of a global order that privileges the U.S. and allows it to flout many norms that apply to everyone else, arguing that these double standards are far more damaging to international order than any Russian policy. Finally, Russia annexed Crimea at a time when anti-Americanism around the world still runs high as a consequence of the NSA spying scandals, making alignment with U.S. positions politically costly at home.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, Politics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Brazil, South America
  • Author: Balkan Devlen
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: From the start of the Ukrainian crisis Turkey kept a low profile and adopted a strategy best described as "don't poke the Russian bear". Russia is a major Turkish trading partner and Turkey relies heavily on Russian natural gas for its energy needs, while Turkish prime minister Erdogan has also been dealing with serious domestic challenges in the last year. Therefore, due to both external and internal factors, Turkey will avoid confronting Russia directly and will pass the buck to the U.S. and EU. In the short to medium term there are three plausible scenarios under which Turkey will change its current policy. They include the oppression of Crimean Tatars by the Russian authorities; military confrontation in the Black Sea between Russia and NATO; or a more unified, tougher stance against Russia by the West. In the long term Turkey most likely will revert to its traditional role of balancing Russia by strengthening its ties with the West, while reducing its energy dependence on Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Varun Sahni
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The statement by India's national security adviser on March 6th 2014 referring to "legitimate" Russian interest in Ukraine was unsurprisingly criticised in the West, but appreciated in Russia. Most observers missed other important elements in the statement: reference to Ukraine's internal issues; recognition that both Russian and other interests were involved; and emphasis on a peaceful settlement, reconciliation and negotiation. Debate on the Ukrainian crisis has been largely absent in India due to preoccupation with national elections, widespread consensus that Russia is a dependable "friend of India", and sneaking admiration of President Putin for his "decisiveness" in promoting Russia's interests and open defiance of the West. While China and Pakistan have deployed historical/ethno-cultural arguments to dispute Indian sovereignty over territories that India considers its own, India has consistently rejected claims to alter the territorial status quo on grounds of kinship across sovereign borders.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, India, Asia
  • Author: Chris Alden
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Assessments of the official Chinese reaction to the crisis in Ukraine have focused primarily on China's abstention in the vote on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russian actions and, to a lesser degree, on the three-pronged Chinese proposal for addressing the crisis. However, by examining an array of Chinese sources, including media reports, editorials, and research think-tank publications, a number of viewpoints are presented that provide a better sense of the scope of Chinese thinking on the subject. These concentrate on the notion of Chinese neutrality, Western interference, the domestic sources of the Ukrainian crisis, and possible policy options available to Chinese decision-makers. Understanding these provides a more nuanced understanding of Chinese reactions to the Ukrainian crisis and its possible significance for China.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth Sidiropoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: South Africa did not join in the chorus of condemnation against Russia's annexation of the Crimea, instead adopting a position that in part mirrored language used by Russia to explain its actions, but in other ways reflected key principles of South African foreign policy. Together with its fellow BRICS members, South Africa opposed the imposition of sanctions and was critical of suggestions that Russia might be excluded from the G-20 Summit in Australia later in the year. Non-interference in the internal affairs of states and the inviolability of borders have been central organising principles of African affairs since decolonisation. South Africa's approach must be understood in the context of a desire to see the balance of forces change to reflect the rise of emerging powers. The West's unilateral actions since the end of the cold war have not sat well with the South African government. Civil society elements aligned to the ruling tripartite alliance have condemned what they perceive as Western propaganda against Russia and the West's involvement in stirring unrest in Maidan Square, Kiev. Furthermore, from a realpolitik perspective, South Africa accords its alliance with the BRICS states high priority. Yet, as a relatively small country, it is in South Africa's interests to encourage adherence to a set of global rules that are respected by all.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa
  • Author: Andrey Makarychev, Licínia Simão
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: It was not until 2007 that the concept of development assistance became part of the Russian foreign policy toolkit. This policy brief explains Russia's development assistance policy – mainly towards Africa – as an effect of the country's global commitments and socialisation dynamics, on the one hand, and Moscow's growing interest in exploring the potential of soft power as an indispensable element of its diplomacy, since both aspects are interrelated. The policy brief also looks at the mismatches between Russia's normative discourse in its assistance towards Africa, and the economic and geopolitical interests it pursues simultaneously. This provides room for reflection on the specificities of so-called South-South cooperation, with which the BRICS grouping in particular is often associated.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Moscow