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  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Moscow is in Syria for the long haul and will continue to undermine American efforts there. In recent months, Moscow intensified its activities in Syria against the backdrop of a changing US administration. The Kremlin sent additional military policy units to eastern Syria, and continued diplomatic engagement through the Astana format, a process that superficially has international backing but in practice excludes the United States and boosts Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, Moscow also unveiled at its airbase in Syria a statue to the patron saint of the Russian army, Prince Alexander Nevsky. A growing Russian presence in Syria will further hurt Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Sahar Khan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The international community is focused on the ongoing intra-Afghan peace process, which has steadied despite several challenges. There are two developments, however, that will have a lasting impact on the process: The International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes committed by the Taliban, Afghan forces, and US forces, and the strategic evolution of the Taliban as a legitimate political actor.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, Terrorism, Taliban, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, South Asia, Eurasia
  • 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: Wilder Alejandro Sanchez
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since achieving its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has maintained warm relations with the United States. The country regards the United States both as a potential source for trade and investment and as a partner to balance the influence of Russia and China in Central Asia, a perspective which underlines the importance of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s February visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. During the visit, Pompeo was generous in his praise for Kazakhstan and highlighted the importance of bilateral ties, while criticizing China’s detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, and ethnic Kazakhs in so-called “re-education” camps.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, North America, United States of America
  • 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: Gavin Helf
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report offers a road map for understanding the most likely sources of violent conflict in the post-Soviet nations of Central Asia—ethno-nationalism and nativism, Islam and secularism, water resources and climate change, and labor migration and economic conflict. The analysis draws from emerging trends in the region and identifies the ways in which Central Asia’s geography and cultural place in the world interact with those trends. It suggests that the policy goals of the United States, Russia, and China in the region may be more compatible than is often assumed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Climate Change, Migration, Economy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Paul M. Carter Jr.
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s global ambitions have steadily increased, including in unstable areas of the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere. For the most part, Moscow’s activities in these and other areas run counter to Western interests and undermine efforts to mitigate conflict through broad-based, transparent processes. This report outlines the factors that appear to be motivating the Kremlin’s conflict-zone interventions and places them within the larger context of Russian foreign policy interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anton Lavrov
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Before the start of the military intervention in Syria in 2015, even top Russian generals were uncertain what the result would be. Shortly before the start of the intervention, the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) received hundreds of new airplanes and helicopters and new “smart” precision weapons. Almost all of them had never been tested in real combat. The pilots and commanders also did not have combat experience and were trained by textbooks filled with outdated concepts and tactics. The five years of war in Syria have been the most intense period of transformation for the RuAF since the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The Russian military not only gained an unprecedented amount of experience, but also made substantial improvements in tactics and strategy.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Air Force
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • 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: 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: Lukas Milevski
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In this monograph, Dr. Lukas Milevski examines the logic of grand strategy in practice, defined by its most basic building block—combining military and non-military power in war. He lays out competing visions of how to define grand strategy and why the aforementioned building block is the most fundamental. The monograph establishes the essential logic of military power through annihilation and exhaustion or attrition as well as through control of the opponent’s freedom of action. This baseline understanding of strategic action and effect in war allows an exploration of how the utility and meaning of non-military instruments change between peacetime and wartime and how they may contribute to the strategic effort and includes discussion of specific examples such as the U.S. interwar war plans and the Stuxnet cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The author also links this combination to present-day Russian and Chinese attempts at mixing military and non-military power.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Affairs, Grand Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anne De Tinguy, Annie Daubenton, Olivier Ferrando, Sophie Hohmann, Jacques Lévesque, Nicolas Mazzuchi, Gaïdz Minassian, Thierry Pasquet, Tania Sollogoub, Julien Thorez
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales
  • Abstract: Regards sur l’Eurasie. L’année politique est une publication annuelle du Centre de recherches internationales de Sciences Po (CERI) dirigée par Anne de Tinguy. Elle propose des clefs de compréhension des événements et des phénomènes qui marquent de leur empreinte les évolutions d’une région, l’espace postsoviétique, en profonde mutation depuis l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique en 1991. Forte d’une approche transversale qui ne prétend nullement à l’exhaustivité, elle vise à identifier les grands facteurs explicatifs, les dynamiques régionales et les enjeux sous-jacents.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Corruption, Democratization, Economics, Health, International Security, Natural Resources, Conflict, Multilateralism, Europeanization, Political Science, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan
  • Author: Arkadiusz Legieć
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In none of the conflicts in the post-Soviet area have so many foreign fighters participated than in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014. It is estimated that more than 17,000 fighters from 55 countries have fought there on either side. Those fighting on the Russian side pose a special challenge to Ukraine’s security and to neighbouring countries because these fighters can engage in terrorism or other radical actions and are part of Russia’s hybrid warfare.
  • Topic: War, Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Stepan Goncharov, Denis Volkov
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The conflict between Russia and Ukraine remains unresolved and—after five years—it does not appear to be reaching a resolution any time soon. The ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian government and rebel forces supported by Moscow not only degrades the relationship between Kiev and Moscow but also contributes to the deteriorating relations between Russia and the West. [1] This particular regional conflict has become an important destabilizing factor for international security. Findings from a new binational survey, conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Analytical Center, show that a plurality of Russians believe these eastern areas of Ukraine should be independent states.[2] And a majority of Russians continue to say that Russia’s annexation of Crimea has brought the country more good than harm.
  • Topic: International Relations, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine, Crimea
  • Author: Gregory Waters
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Tiger Forces is a Syrian Air Intelligence-affiliated militia fighting for the Syrian government and backed by Russia. While often described as the Syrian government’s elite fighting force, this research portrays a starkly different picture. The Tiger Forces are the largest single fighting force on the Syrian battlefield, with approximately 24 groups comprised of some 4,000 offensive infantry units as well as a dedicated artillery regiment and armor unit of unknown size. Beyond these fighters are thousands of additional so-called flex units, affiliated militiamen who remain largely garrisoned in their hometowns along the north Hama and Homs borders until called on to join offensives as needed. Despite a decentralized command structure, the Tiger Forces' capabilities far exceed any other unit currently fighting in the Syrian civil war. The main source of the unit’s success stems from its two full-strength infantry brigades with dedicated logistical support and the ability to call on the Syrian air force—and after September 2015 the Russian air force—at will. While there is likely some degree of higher-than-average competence among the Tiger Forces’ officer corps, this research demonstrates that the true power of the unit does not come from their alleged status as elite fighters but instead from their large size, supply lines, and Russian support.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Report on the workshop: “Prospects of cooperation on restoring stability and institutional reform in Syria” Geneva, 21-22 September 2017.
  • Topic: Reform, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Syrian War, Institutions, Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Syria
  • Author: Daniel S. Hamilton, Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: Russia under Vladimir Putin has become a revisionist power seeking to undo the post-Cold War settlement, control its neighborhood, and disrupt Western influence. By annexing the eastern Ukrainian region of Crimea and waging war in other parts of the country, the Kremlin seeks not only to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty but the European security order. The comfortable verities of the ''post-Cold War era'' are a paradigm lost. The Soviet succession continues to rumble, and a new era has begun - more fluid, more turbulent, more open-ended.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Treaties and Agreements, Partnerships, Grand Strategy, Conflict, Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, North America