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  • Author: Kamran Ismayilov, Konrad Zasztowt
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan recently had to face a wave of criticism from the European institutions (the OSCE and the European Parliament) due to its government’s undemocratic practices. In response, Baku accused its European partners of Islamophobia and declared the suspension of parliamentary cooperation in the framework of the EU’s Euronest. The Azerbaijani ruling elite also blames the West of supporting a “fifth column” in Azerbaijan (meaning civil society organisations) as well as of giving political support to its arch-enemy Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. At the same time authorities in Baku are displaying their developing political partnership with Russia. This paper examines the consequences of the crisis in relations between the EU and Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani-Russian rapprochement for the prospects for EU-Azerbaijan energy projects and regional security in the South Caucasus.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Civil Society, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Kacper Rękawek
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Terrorists constantly seek the spotlight and attacking major sporting events constitutes a seemingly perfect springboard for global notoriety. As the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi are nearing, the global public is understandably concerned about the July 2013 North Caucasian jihadi threats to either disrupt the Games or prevent them altogether. Are the recent Volgograd bombings all the terrorists could muster in anticipation of the Olympics or is there more to come? It is worth analysing some of the options the Caucasus Emirate might be considering in relation to their stated intent to disrupt or force the cancellation of the Olympics. All of the options are derived from information on previous terrorist attacks on other sporting events that could provide clues for counter-terrorism authorities in Russia and neighbouring countries to use when securing these Olympics.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, International Organization, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Gerald Stang
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Russia is often seen as a land of extremes – and the narratives for this month's Winter Olympics in Sochi reflect that view. From the record-length 65,000 km Olympic torch run (which included trips to outer space, the north pole and the bottom of the world's deepest lake) to the incredible $51 billion price tag and the Ian Flemingesque threat of attacks from black widow terrorists, the Sochi games have a distinctly Russian flavour. The Kremlin appears to have envisioned the games as a national triumph, not unlike the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with organisational, architectural and sporting successes that could unite the country. However, with global headlines dominated by stories of corruption, human rights abuses, anti-gay laws and the very real threat of terrorist attacks, one might be forgiven for wondering whether the Russian government regrets its decision to bid for the games.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Political Violence, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: For the best part of the last two decades, EU-Russia summits have alternated between being upbeat events where new grand integration initiatives were launched – the creation of four common spaces in 2005, the partnership for modernisation in 2010 – and rather unfriendly encounters where success was seemingly measured on how impolite the partners could be to one another.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Leon Aron
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Every Olympiad is a complex and, until the end, uncertain endeavor. In the case of the 2014 Winter Games, which begin February 7 in Sochi, Russia, the challenges and vulnerabilities are far more significant and numerous than usual. It will be the first (and almost certainly the last) Winter Games in the subtropics. Virtually the entire infrastructure had to be built from scratch and in haste, with abuse of laborers and corruption overhead likely further compromising the construction. While various interest groups exploit every Olympiad to draw international attention to their causes, protests in Sochi could be particularly intense. Finally, and most ominously, Sochi is next door to a fundamentalist Islamic uprising in which terrorism claims victims almost daily. For the sake of the athletes and millions of fans, one hopes that none of these potential problems will precipitate a disruption, much less a crisis or bloodshed. Yet in their choice of location and the manner in which they have gone about organizing the Games, the Russian authorities have greatly increased that risk. By highlighting some key features and practices of Vladimir Putin's regime, a major setback at the Olympiad could deal a serious blow to the regime's legitimacy, prompt national soul searching, and trigger another round of civil resistance in search of reforms.
  • Topic: Corruption, Islam, Insurgency, Infrastructure, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although China's statements about the Ukrainian crisis have been weighed very carefully, there are concerns that China is drawing lessons such as 'might is right' and 'geopolitics is all that matters' from the crisis. The hawks in China have adopted a similar tone to that of the Kremlin, with both wishing to see a relatively diminished Western influence in the international arena. The Chinese Dream is all about national rejuvenation, which entails redressing past grievances. Nevertheless, the Dream need not turn into a nightmare for other powers. The increase in China's military budget does not indicate growing ambitions of a global power projection. China's primary concern remains stability both within and without its borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Kenneth B. Moss
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Cyber technology could change not only the conduct of war itself; it could alter the way governments and others initiate hostilities and war. Existing international laws need to be reviewed to make sure they address the capabilities and accountability of cyber operations in conflict and war, and the participation of China, Russia and other states in negotiations is critical.
  • Topic: International Law, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, China
  • Author: Oliver Stuenkel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • 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 Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • 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