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  • Author: Pavel K. Baev
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent incidence of war in the Caucasus has shown that, when facing deep domestic troubles, Russia and Turkey demonstrate strikingly different patterns of international behavior. While Russia has become more cautious in responding to external challenges, Turkey has embarked on several power-projecting enterprises. Its forceful interference in the long-smoldering conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh took Russia by surprise and effectively secured a military victory for Azerbaijan. Moscow has assumed the main responsibility for terminating hostilities by deploying a peacekeeping force, but its capacity for managing the war zone and its commitment to deconflicting tensions with Turkey remain uncertain. The United States and the European Union have few levers for influencing this interplay of clashing agendas of local actors and regional powers and fewer reasons to trust Russian and Turkish leaders to put peacebuilding ahead of their ambitions.
  • Topic: Security, War, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Caucasus, Middle East
  • 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: Maximilian Hess, Maia Otarashvili
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Georgia has long sought to take advantage of its strategically important location and establish itself as a significant transit hub connecting Europe and Asia. This endeavor has been slowly advanced by an array of innovative economic reforms, as well as some successful, smaller infrastructure and development projects. However, it has also been marked by repeated failures in making larger-scale initiatives happen. Despite its 190-mile-long Black Sea coastline, Georgia still does not have a deep-sea port, and enjoys very limited overall maritime capacity. This shortcoming poses a major impediment on the country’s aspirations of becoming a significant hub for the Eurasian transit system.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Maritime, Port
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Georgia
  • 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: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Russia and the separatists it backs in Ukraine’s east are no longer quite on the same page, especially since the Kremlin abandoned ideas of annexing the breakaway republics or recognising their independence. The rift gives the new Ukrainian president an opportunity for outreach to the east’s embattled population, including by relaxing the trade embargo. What’s new? Russia’s gradual retreat from any plans to annex parts of eastern Ukraine has opened schisms between Moscow and its separatist proxies in the region. Why does it matter? For Kyiv, these divides could create opportunities to restart dialogue with the people of the east. Such contacts, in turn, could help lay the groundwork for Ukraine’s unification. What should be done? The rift between Moscow and its proxies should inform new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s policies. Kyiv should look to rebuild relations with the inhabitants of separatist-held areas, by easing the economic blockade on the east and increasing outreach to the population there.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine
  • Author: Paul Dibb
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: We’re in an era when the risks of major-power conflict are growing. The most likely contenders are China, the rising power, and the US, the formerly dominant power that’s now in relative decline. The other worrying contingency is conflict between Russia and US-led NATO. But what about the third possibility: the prospect of China and Russia collaborating to challenge American power? The most dangerous scenario for America would be a grand coalition of China and Russia united not by ideology, but by complementary grievances. This paper examines Russian and Chinese concepts of great-power war in the 21st century, their views of the West and its military capabilities, and what risks they might both take to regain lost territories. The paper concludes by examining how America might react, the implications of all this for the West, including Australia, and what sort of armed conflict might be involved.
  • Topic: War, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Antonin Plattner
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: Russia’s attempts to control and regulate the flow of online information and communication within its territory reached a new stage on 1 November 2019 after its so-called “internet sovereignty” law came into force. Designed to increase state control over what Russia’s citizens can access and do online, the law has already sparked numerous protests across Russia. Although it remains to be seen how effective the law is likely to be, it is already clear that it fits perfectly well with the regime’s survival considerations and, more importantly, with the broader geopolitical strategy of the Kremlin towards the West. This paper analyses the reasons behind the failure of Moscow’s successive strategies to enforce the central state’s absolute sovereignty online. These reasons may include: The amount of data online, the web’s decentralised routing technology and the prospective satellite-based internet which together undermine Moscow’s strategies of control through physical infrastructures. The relative reluctance of international platforms to execute the authorities’ requests for censorship which limits the global success of Moscow’s strategy of control through ownership. The determination and inventiveness of the domestic digital resistance which prevents the total success of Moscow’s legal and social coercion strategies. Secondly, this paper proposes an original insight concerning Russia’s cyberstrategy. It argues that the Kremlin’s aspiration for neo-Westphalian “internet sovereignty” ultimately depends on a radical change of the internet governance format. Moscow’s call to replace the current multi-stakeholder model with a multilateral system should be understood as an absolute prerequisite for its control over domestic communications and information. From that perspective, this paper identifies Russia-based campaigns of cyber disruption as Moscow’s attempt to actively demonstrate the merit of “internet sovereignty”, by sowing international distrust in the principle of a free and international internet, as defended by the current multi-stakeholder model of governance.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Authoritarianism, Geopolitics, Internet, Protests, Counterrevolution, digital culture
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: Perception1 of security threats is a dynamic process determined by the outside world and the perceiver’s culture, attitudes, expectations, needs, experience and other attributes. Each interpreter, depending on her or his respective analytic point of view, subjectively defines the facts in the security realm. Values, beliefs and cognitions constitute the bulk of any perception, including about security issues. A value is a preference for one state of reality over another. A belief is a conviction that a description of reality is true, proven or known. And cognition is information derived from the environment that can be substantiated through physical evidence or perceptual observation. Cognitions are key elements in establishing perceptual systems and in changing those systems. The threat perceptual systems of the Western Black Sea countries – Bulgaria and Romania, are strongly influenced by their values, beliefs and cognitions as sovereign nations with specific geopolitical positions and interests. They are also shaped in the context of their membership in NATO, as future EU members and as US allies on whose territories would be stationed American military bases.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Geopolitics, Risk
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, South Caucasus, Black Sea
  • Author: Nicolay Pavlov, Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 12-2000
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: The application of geopolitical methodological instruments to the study of Bulgarian foreign and security policy issues has two fundamental causes: first, for many decades this has been a neglected intellectual instrument of international political research – for political and ideological reasons – and, second, the end of the Cold War necessitated an improvement of the conceptual and the analytical tools of security studies in Europe and the world. The traditional approach of ISIS to search ways of improving the security situation by conceptualizing events and processes in a novel way has focused the efforts of its researchers on security problems that cover a broad strategic zone: the Balkans – the Black Sea – the Transcaucasus – the Caspian Sea. Continued cooling – for more than ten years –of bilateral Bulgarian-Russian relations is conceived as one of the problems of this broader strategic and systemically linked zone. The geopolitical and geostrategic model – imposed on Bulgaria by the Cold War divide, the country’s membership in the Warsaw Pact and the thorough domination by the USSR – ended and was replaced by a different reality. The geopolitical projection of the ideological and socio-economic divide was no longer an applicable paradigm. At the same time the balance of power and the geostrategic approaches of understanding the evolving international environment proved to be inadequate after the end of the 1980s of the 20th Century. Russian, and to a lesser extent Bulgarian, politicians lost the orientation and the perspective of the bilateral links. This led to a dramatic diminishing of the meaning of bilateral relations in the general foreign-political engagements of the two countries. Bulgaria had undertaken a clear orientation to market economy, democracy and rule of law – a philosophic course, which logically prioritized the attraction of the European Union as the efficient integration nucleus of Europe, and of NATO – the symbol of stability and guaranteed prosperity in the broader Euro-Atlantic space. Though NATO was no longer perceived in the Cold War antagonistic pattern by Russia, and the very substance of the Alliance intensively adapted to the post-Cold War realities, Bulgaria’s political and security choice of joining the Euro-Atlantic community of developed democratic nations was negatively assessed by the Russian elite.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Bulgaria